Drinks, food, shade, entertainment and overall comfort must come together to have guests really enjoying themselves.
December holidays are about big lunches/parties with family and friends, which normally brings an unusual amount of people into your home.
Taking the party outside is normally the best way to go for accommodating larger groups of people, but you find the extreme UV rays, humidity, wind, and rain can bring its own disadvantages.
Keeping guests cool and comfortable is the ultimate goal, and doing this with as little effort from your side, giving you more time to mingle and tend to the braai.
One thing I learnt in the restaurant industry is that I made clients happier (more tips) and did less work, if I was smart in how I sold food and drinks, and this tip can be used for your parties too.
The heat will obviously make people thirsty, so make sure you have enough drinks that are easily accessible, by providing ice buckets, glasses and drinks in arm’s length, and don’t have to move too much.
If a customer was drinking Castle light, I would put 6-8 beers in a bucket of ice on the table near him, so he never has to wait for the bar and waiter to bring it to him. I did the same with spirits, where I put the bottle of their choice on the table, with ice readily available. The rule was I would deduct whatever the customer did not finish, which was rarely the case.
This eliminated me having to run back and forth for every customer needing a drink, which gave me more time to mingle with my guests.
Do the same tactics with snacks, preferably cold snacks, as hot snacks would normally entail you having to do more.
There is nothing worse for a guest than having the sun in your face or on your back, so equip yourself with a portable umbrella to move as the sun moves.
Planting trees in strategic places to block direct sun can work, but it’s not an immediate answer.
Outdoor blinds or awnings can be a creative and stylish way to keep your guests cool, and will extend your entertainment area, adding more value to your home.
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Another great idea against the heat is the misters which you design around your patio. Forcing water through small sprinklers creating a wall of mist, which is great for reduction of heat. Cost effective.
Music is a great mood setter, and should be on before the guests arrive. So spend a little bit of time with a playlist that will cover a good few hours of solid hits. I can’t tell you what music to listen to, but make sure it’s something everyone likes. I’ve known many DJ’s that have their own style of music, but when it comes to playing to a mixed audience, they adapt to what the majority would like.
Another suggestion is to start out playing lounge (easy listening) music , and later move to the more familiar party songs when food is finished. Dim the lighting later on for a better party mood.
Sometimes we do so much, that we forget the simpler things like making sure the couch is free of dog hair, ipads, etc. also side tables must be free for a guest to put down his/her drink.
Don’t forget the dog’s doodoo on the grass. I would suggest doing it earlier in the day so the smell dissipates by the time the guests arrive.
And the last advice I can give, is don’t try too hard, rather be a part of the fun. Most guests pick up on your vibe, and that in itself can determine where the party is headed.