Guests are likely to linger at this low-key summer affair. Stage seating for easy conversation, spread out a table of make-your-own mojitos, plus offer a few light appetizers. We've collected the recipes in a free booklet.
Late Sunday afternoons are a great time for conversation and get-togethers, says Denise Gee, author of Porch Parties. Denise regularly serves drinks, nibbles, and casual conversation on her own porch. "It's what I called the 'unplanned party plan,'" she says.
Seating at her parties is a mix of a porch swing, solid-color outdoor chairs, and lean-on-the-railing perching. Guests serve themselves at food and drink stations, promoting conversation and movement at her parties.
No guessing here -- answer "what's for dinner?" with paper place cards naming the evening's nibbles. Get the free designs, featured in Denise's menu and shown here.
A plastic-lined urn is on chill duty: Line this porch staple with a garbage bag, fill with ice, and tuck in an array of sodas and drinks for a grab-as-you-like atmosphere.
Dress up your drinks with something special, such as a juicy citrus knot to top off your sipper. The knots are easy to make: Using a sharp peeler or paring knife, cut an orange peel into 1/4-inch-wide strips and tie. You can make them ahead and store them in cold orange juice to up the flavor.
At a mojito bar, guests concoct their own fruit-infused libations. Ensure you've got the supplies, leaving room for experimentation.
To make a mojito, drop a palmful of mint or basil in a glass. Instead of sugar, add a jigger of fruit-flavored simple syrup and rum. Add a couple of teaspoons of fresh lime juice and muddle the herbs. Fill the glass two-thirds full with ice and squeeze in two lime wedges. Top it off with club soda and stir.
Get six of Denise's original recipes, plus some of her favorites from Better Homes and Gardens. This free printable makes a great print-and-trim party favor so guests can re-create their party favorites.
The recipes include:
Keep guests comfortable with a few paper fan party favors. Simply trim the edges of heavyweight scrapbook paper and sandwich a clean paint stick between two of them. A bit of glue keeps them intact.
Line your railing with these bright paper fans: Start with two large pieces of colored paper (we used 19"x25" drawing paper in two colors). Fold each piece into 1-inch accordion pleats (a bone folder can help with this task), then fold each paper in half to form a fan. Nest one fan inside the other and tape or glue them together. String a ribbon through the narrow end to hang.