Happy Independence Day, you millennial patriots. There’s nothing I look forward to more than backyards, burgers, and booze. Shouts to our founding fathers for making a new country but also for creating a summertime holiday that’s essentially just an excuse to get drunk outside all day and then blow shit up. Make America Turbo Again, amirite?
As we creep closer to the weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a backyard barbecue truly hyphy. There’s obviously the food—DUH—but I’m not qualified enough to run through the do’s and don’ts of operating a charcoal grill. There’s plenty of other sources out there for that. Instead, I want to throw some insights on the less-evident aspects of a great party, the stuff that sometimes gets overlooked. Some of you might be hosting your first backyard party this weekend, so let’s make sure you do things right.
Invite friends from multiple social circles.
As Chief Party Officer, one of the main responsibilities you have is inviting the masses to come hang. However, a lot of folks get a little hesitant about who to invite from which circles. Don’t spend too much time worrying about, “But will this person like that person? Is this group too different from that other group? Are these really the only friends I have?” F*ck that noise. Invite everyone. Some of the best people I’ve met have been introduced through totally random occasions. Case in point: A few years back, a couple friends hosted their annual chips and dip party. There were a ton of people there, and plenty I knew, but a lot I did not. Among them was my buddy’s older brother, who after chatting about Daniel Wellington watches for a bit, mentioned he was a photographer. That dude turned out to be Bryan McVey, who’s been our resident TTV photographer for three years now (in addition to becoming a great friend). The point is, don’t hesitate to mix things up a bit. Invite your work crew as well as your college friends. You’d be surprised how well your concert buddies get along with your Tuesday night trivia team. We can swim in more than one social ocean, and the water feels great everywhere.
Build a solid playlist that doesn’t need to be tampered with.
Music is always a big deal. If you don’t think it is, then you probably don’t host the kinds of parties I like to go to. But it can be a total challenge to play the part of DJ, line cook, conversation starter, and relationship ambassador all at once. Do what you can to make sure that on the day of, you’ve got as few party elements to focus on as possible. You don’t want to worry about constantly scrolling through albums to find the next track, so start building a playlist a few days out from the party. Choose jams that all have a similar vibe, but won’t dominate the setting. Music should act as more of a background soundtrack, that way guests feel encouraged to talk and interact with one another. Also, if you’re going for the long haul, make sure to transition the vibes from day to night. If it’s after 9:00 PM, lean in to the turbo and just put on club rap heaters for hours. The people will call you a gawd.
This might be the most important bit. Day drinking, day parties, or any kind of outdoor imbibing have a tendency to perpetuate this mirage of sobriety. It’s noon, so you start with a cocktail or some beers, and by 2:30 PM, you’re already about 6 or 7 deep. If this was nighttime, you’d have a very good sense of awareness, but the during the day, it’s like we all think we’re Olympic-level boozers just because the sun is out. FALSE TRUTH, MY PAL. If anything, heavy drinking in the sun actually gets you drunk quicker because of science or something. As party host, you’ve got to set a personal pace so that you can enjoy yourself but still stay in control of the festivities. No one wants to see you backflip off of a picnic table and char your hand in the Webster. Be better than that. I always use that old standby of alternating my booze with a quick glass of water, just to stay hydrated and somewhat alert. If you’re worried about anyone calling you out for the switch, just throw a lime wedge in the water and tell everyone you’re pounding G&T’s. Works every time.
Look, chances are things will go totally as planned this weekend and everyone will have a great time at your party. If they don’t, make sure to keep a small list because guess who’s not invited to your Halloween party. That’s right, Antoine. Should’ve kept your grilling critiques to yourself.