Everyone loves a big backyard bash and it is always best when you are invited instead of doing all the planning. But some of us are just gluttons for punishment and love to throw a big bash at least once or twice a year. There just is nothing quite like the satisfaction you get when you see a couple dozen of your best friends having a great time and you planned it.

But if the very idea of throwing a big bash in your neighborhood throws you into a flurry of nightmare filled evenings, we can help. You can even ask silly questions about the plans such as “can I paint my propane tank to match the décor?” and we won’t flinch. But for just about everything, as there is in party preparation, there is a wrong way and a right way to throw that successful party. Here are a few tips to get you thinking in the right direction.

Let My People Eat

The first tip is one that most of us forget when planning, and it is crucial to success. When figuring out where you plan to put everything, be sure that the dining area is the biggest area of all. Give everyone plenty of space to set down plates, mingle with other guests and just in general have an easy time of it. If you are planning a really big shindig, you might want to put the living room furniture into storage for the weekend and plan to have the room transformed into a makeshift dining area.

Thrift stores are great sources for tables and extra chairs. I have found that grabbing a few folding tables when they show up at yard sales and thrift store sales are a great way to be flexible for events like this. If you like to entertain you probably have a few of these lying around in the garage, so pull them out now. The more room there is for setting down that plate of lovely spare ribs, the better everyone can dig in!

Use Buffets to Close off Areas

We all love guests but that doesn’t mean we want them wandering the rest of our house. While we don’t suggest giant Keep Off signs, there are ways to make parts of your home, particularly the bedrooms, off limits to your weekend bash guests. One way is to put those long buffet tables of salads and condiments for your backyard bash in front of the hallway that leads to the bedrooms. This is a gentle but effective way to let them know that going beyond this barrier is not welcome.

Curtain Those Forbidden Areas

Another easy way is to hide off parts of the house you don’t want seen with a drop of cloth or bedspread. I have gone to thrift stores and bought up old second hand curtains for just this purpose and they work fine. Hang them from the ceiling in front of that home office you don’t want disturbed and most of your guests will get the hint.

I say most because there is always someone who just has to play detective and find out what you are hiding. For these guests, I post a big note on my work desk to let them know I really don’t need this intrusion. Then I just sit back and enjoy my guests.