1. When people offer to bring something to help - LET THEM! Everyone bringing one dish or drink is way easier than you doing everything and they are happy to do it, that's why they offered!
2. Costco/BJ's for as much as you can. I bought a large box of plastic silverware for around $10 that should last us most of the summer. Same with paper plates, plastic cups, sodas..anything that doesn't need to be refrigerated. If it's a big enough party then certainly buy your meats, rolls, buns there.
3. Come up with some easy, yummy, staples. Mine:
- Calzones, good hot or cold. One of our closest friends makes a killer, real, italian calzone. I'm not that talented. So I grabbed a recipe from another friend and now put all different spins on it. All you need is a Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust and whatever filling you'd like; pepperoni pizza ingredients, mozzarella/feta/broccoli/oil, buffalo chicken/blue cheese/blue chese dressing.. anything. Lay out the crust, layer your filling leaving an inch around the edge, fold it over twice and then bake for 25 - 35 min. Bake time depends on how much filling. Just start to watch it around 20 min. Best part is these are good warm and then cold too! And you can always have the ingredients for the pepperoni pizza on hand to whip up for last minute guests or if the party goes later than you thought and you need some extra munchies.
- Dill dip. Super easy to put together and works with veggies, pretzels, chips..lots of things. I just grab a lowfat sour cream and add, 2 tsps of celery salt, 2 tsps Dill Weed and 1/4 tsp Onion Powder. Mix well and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 min.
- Flowers! I get a couple of bunches of tulips (or whatever strikes my fancy) from the grocery store and put them in different vases in the living room and kitchen. Inexpensive and adds a nice touch to the inside of the house which people will see on their way to the bathroom or late night when you move the party inside.
Biggest, most important piece? Great friends! We're very lucky..no matter what food or drink we have at any party/BBQ it's always a perfect time because our friends are like family and spending time with them means the world to us!:-)