Paring down to the party necessities

I love summer and believe in celebrating the longest day of the year. I like to do so by hosting a barbeque right around the summer solstice.

Last year was the first in my house and with my patio, so I went all out with mason-jar lanterns, flower arrangements, frilly drinks and carefully coordinated kebobs.

I don't know if I'm busier this year, or more just more consumed by things like my garden, but I haven't had time to put in the serious planning and coordinating to create an elegant outdoor affair. (Tongue in cheek, of course. How elegant can you be when you're wiping away sweat and swatting at mosquitoes?)

I love the idea of chilling beverages in galvanized metal buckets or serving lemonade in glass dispensers, but I just haven't had the time to get them. Plus, it's hard for me to justify the space required to store them, compare to how little I'd use them.

This year, I'm planning to pull out my chest cooler, grill some beer-can chicken and have friends bring side dishes to share. No frill, no fuss – just simple summer fun.

I asked my Twitter followers – what are the necessities for throwing a summer party? I got some great suggestions, including citronella candles, beer and potato salad. My own requirement: a killer playlist. Easy enough.

(Tangent: I made the mistake of finding these instructions for turning a wine bottle into a tiki torch. I have a feeling I'll throw my pare-down attitude to the wind and try it. I'll keep you posted.)

I'm hoping that by sticking to the necessities and focusing on spending quality time with friends, this party will be the best yet.

What do you think – what's your summer-party must-have?

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