Labor Day is always symbolic to me as the end of summer. It’s when the community pools close for the season, when we get ready for back to school, and we think ahead to fall and everything that comes with the last quarter of the year.
Just because chillier temperatures are on the horizon, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the last few warm days. These remaining weekends where the air isn’t too brisk are perfect opportunities to get family or friends together and enjoy food, drink and make some memories.
I made a pact with myself at the beginning of summer that we were going to make a lot of plans and stick to them. A lot of recent summers were jam-packed with weddings, baby showers and fun events, but this year was a little empty of those things. I am lucky to have a large group of friends from high school whom I’m still very close with. But time really does move more quickly the older we get, and since many of us are already married – we no longer have weddings on a regular basis to bring us all together. Some of our kids hadn’t even met each other yet! Thinking about all this, I knew that we had to get something on the calendar and bring everyone to one place to catch up.
We decided on a Sunday afternoon picnic featuring a taco bar and lots of kid friendly options, since our tribe has grown pretty significantly in the past few years. I counted at one point, and we had 14 kids ranging from one month to 7 years old. Talk about a full house! Because this was such a special occasion, I wanted to put up some fun decorations and really embrace the summertime excitement.
Thank goodness for Oriental Trading Company, and their amazing selection of fun luau-style decorations at reasonable cost. I was able to quickly pick out brightly colored lei’s, flowers, and the coolest coconut tree cooler ever to make the party really fun. The best part about Oriental Trading is that they have so many themes and options to choose from. So weather it’s a Luau like we had, a baby shower, or a football tailgate party – they’ve got you covered.
Life is very hectic; I know this first-hand. I’m here to tell you, make the plans and take the time to catch up with old friends. Having everyone over to our house sure was a lot of work, but I would do it over and over again to see the kids all play together and lean on those friends as we navigate this new season of life.
I have a few quick tips to make a party like this come together:
Get prepared a few weeks in advance
Plan out the menu, who is bringing what, how much time you need to clean, etc… Sometimes hosting a party seems daunting, but if you’re ready ahead of the curve, it should go smoothly.
Have a potluck
Rather than taking on ALL of the food and drinks, ask that everyone brings a dish to contribute. You’ll find that people are more than willing to step in and contribute! We did provide the main course – a delicious taco bar – and everyone brought foods that coordinated with that.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about organizing a party for 40+ people. What if it rains? What if I burn the food? What if there aren’t enough places to park on our cul-de-sac? The truth of the matter is that people are just excited to see each other and honestly won’t care if your bathroom is spotless or not.
Sit and enjoy
I am totally guilty of being an active cleaner when hosting a party. I am “that mom” following everyone around and swiping empty cups and plates right into the garbage. Instead of wasting my time cleaning, I made a conscious effort to enjoy catching up with my friends and playing with the kids.
Sometimes the simple things in life mean the absolute most. Cheers to the next get-together – likely a football party (one of the best parts of fall!)