How to Throw a Summer Party in 2 Hours

Thrillist/ Samantha Shin

Summer is the season of spontaneity, which means that a small hang can turn into a bigger party without much time to prep. Maybe too many friends-of-friends showed up to the park picnic, or perhaps you’ve decided to surprise a friend for their birthday. No matter the reason for quickly pulling a shindig together, the key is not to panic. To throw a great party, you don’t need days of planning. All you need are two hours, some helpful friends, plus some refreshing Minute Maid Aguas Frescas.

Divide and conquer key tasks

Step one: deputize. Quickly getting a feel for how big the party will be is a priority, so hour one should involve putting a friend in charge of getting a rough headcount. Next, delegate who should be in charge of food and drinks, so they can make the run to a grocery store. One not-so-savory part you’ll need to handle yourself though: pre-party clean-up. Chances are, your place could use some tidying up, so tackle that while sending someone else out for paper towels.

Simplify the drink menu

The drinks situation often makes or breaks a party, so figure out which beverages to serve first and foremost. A DIY station is the easiest way to keep everyone happy, so pick up ice, a selection of drinks, and don’t forget the mixers for those looking to partake. Having non-alcoholic options is also a must, so grab a few Minute Maid Aguas Frescas to help embrace the spontaneous summer vibes.

Lean into snacks

To make sure people aren’t imbibing on an empty stomach, you’ll want some options for food. Of course, prep time is limited, so stick to chips and dip, prepped dishes, and other easy to serve items. This doesn’t have to look rushed, either — a quick charcuterie board is simple yet tasteful. If you do find yourself with extra prep time, adding pigs in a blanket or veggie skewers to the menu can take the dining up a notch. As always, simplify, simplify, simplify. You (sadly) will not have time to whip up your famous 12-layer Buffalo chicken dip (unless you’ve delegated to an exceptionally impressive friend).

Prep an activity

Now that you’ve sorted out the crucial elements, spend the second hour pulling out the board games, badminton nets, and charades clues and you’ll have this party feeling like a pre-planned event in no time. Here’s where your friend handling invites will come in handy: let friends know to bring games like cornhole or cards to beef up the options. Finding yourself with a bunch of smaller activities isn’t so bad, since you can always group people into teams and turn your gathering into a round-robin tournament.

Be flexible

Two hours isn’t nearly enough time to be fussy about invites, party favors, or other details, so embrace the spontaneity. If the group votes to migrate your house party to a nearby park, cancel the oven preheat and switch to to-go cups. Designated invite-texter accidentally lumped in “that one friend”? Embrace it — summer is the season for making new connections anyway. Since the hosting duties were distributed, you’ll have to make room for group dynamics and whims. After all is said and done, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. (It is summer, after all.)