Summer is a great time for hosting barbecues and backyard parties, but sometimes the prep and cleanup can seem onerous, discouraging us from gathering with friends and families. But hosting a party doesn’t have to add hours of work to your life. With a few simple tricks, you can actually host an enjoyable get-together with almost no preparation.

Have An Activity

One of the hardest parts about having guests over is wondering what you’ll all do together for a few hours. By planning one major activity, however, with casual time for socializing on either side, you eliminate the stress to entertain and keep up the chatter for hours on end. Instead, declare your party a wine tasting and invite your friends to come learn the art of discerning drinking. You can watch video clips about how to properly taste the wine, play party games with wine tasting terms, and have a nice time sampling new kinds of wine.

Keep It Outside

One of the most stressful things about hosting an event is cleaning your house in advance, so why not keep the whole party outside. Invite friends and set a rain date so that you won’t feel the need to quickly clean everything if the day turns out to be damp and cloudy. Then welcome everyone right into the yard, grill, and enjoy. Set all the garbage cans up outside as well – one of the worst surprises a host can face after a barbecue is a broken garbage disposal caused by guests putting bones or watermelon rinds down the drain.

Stick To Simple Details

You’re hosting a summer hangout, not a wedding, so don’t worry about decorating too much. Instead, keep the details simple with a plain white tablecloth and a single accent table. Add a bouquet of flowers picked up from the supermarket and place cards for everyone and wait for the compliments. A few things done well are just as impressive as an elaborate set-up. The place cards are also a perfect project if you have children at home who want to help you get ready.

Make It Stain-Proof

A common gripe of party hosts is the clean-up afterwards, especially when there are spills and stains. Prevent these problems before they happen by serving low mess finger foods and light colored beverages – since it’s summer, skip the red wine and opt for chilled white wine, prosecco, and a light colored signature drink. No one will miss the messy red wine when there are plenty of other options on hand.

When you lower your expectations about what it means to host a casual party, the prospect of opening your home to friends and family becomes less intimidating. And if you’re still feeling worried as the hour gets closer – consider what you would think upon arriving to a friend’s house you found magazines still on the table or a few dishes in the sink. You wouldn’t judge them and your friends aren’t judging you, so just relax and enjoy your company.