The smell of a fresh-cut lawn. Sliding through the sprinkler. Oodles of fireflies and mouthwatering lemonade in jars. Moving through time as if it’s endless. If you’re conjuring up sweet memories from summers past, then this post is for you.

Backyard parties can be a ton of fun when you’re young — and not in charge of all the planning. But having more work to do as a grown-up doesn’t mean having any less fun. Keep it simple! And as the great philosopher Kevin Costner’s character­­­ said in the movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Indeed, the company will be here before you know it.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled 10 of our favorite tips (in no particular ranking) for hosting the best backyard party.

1.    Ditch the tablecloth. Try using a whimsical fitted twin sheet or tape down some colorful wrapping paper to match your decorating theme.

2.    Plan a signature drink. (Whether that’s a cocktail or a mocktail is up to you as the party planner!) If you need ideas, Town and Country magazine compiled this list of 30 of their favorite summer cocktail recipes. Just sub in more or less alcohol to suit your guests.

3.    Float kid drinks or canned beverages in ice within a kiddie pool. This serves two purposes: quick grab-and go for many hands, and easy clean-up afterward. Just empty the ice water, and hose it down!

4.    Use cupcake liners as drink covers. Add a colorful cupcake liner upside down, paired with a straw, to keep mixed drinks, lemonade, waters, etc. free from any pesky bugs that want to move in.

5.    Add the sunscreen and bug spray station. For much of the country, an afternoon or evening party comes with the potential for bug bites or sunburn. Help your guests avoid both via a cute bucket filled with supplies.

6.    Make lots of hot dogs in a slow-cooker. This can be much quicker than a grill, and efficiency counts for all the time-saving points you can muster to help you relax with your guests. For fun, place condiments in a hollowed-out bell pepper: ketchup in a red pepper, mustard in a yellow one, pickle relish in a green pepper, and/or chopped onions in an orange pepper.

7.    Plan some activities. Although unstructured conversation time is invaluable, having a few planned activities such as a get-to-know-you game or two, some backyard sports, or a movie night can help guests socialize and enjoy their time together.

8.    Shop your house for table décor. Whether you need to add height from a cake/ cookie stand or find jars for drinks or condiments, try to stick with what you already own before making a bunch of random supply purchases.

9.    Create a clean-up station. Keep the wipes, paper towels, and hand-sanitizer easily accessible. You might also consider adding more trash bins and recyclables around the yard and patio.

10. Make time to be present. Plan on spending some time caring for last-minute requests, but also try to keep the party planning streamlined so you can move about with ease.

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