It may be counterintuitive, but when hosting a casual gathering I think
less choices = less stress.
Summer is a carefree season and your entertaining should be, too!
When planning, I try to limit the drink and food choices, and make larger quantities of each.
Whether it's a Memorial Day picnic or Father's Day BBQ, the first step is the guest list.
These are the questions to ask yourself:
How many people can you comfortably accommodate?
Are you hosting indoors or outside?
Standing or sitting or a combination?
Next the menu.
I prefer to make as many items ahead as possible, preferably the day ahead and serve it buffet style. Since the weather is warmer, most of my menu items will be served cold or at room temperature. This usually includes a mix of salads: green, pasta, and fruit. The main dish will be grilled such as hamburgers or I prepare baked herbed pork tenderloins that can be sliced and served alone or on small Hawaiian rolls. Dessert is individual cheesecakes in mason jars or baked in muffin cups.
The location of my food buffet is normally in the dining room, even if I plan to entertain outside. In order to educate your guests, I label each dish with paper place cards from Party City. This eliminates any questions for attendees with food allergies or food intolerance such as gluten. In addition, keeping bugs at bay is easier when the food is left inside. I set up drinks outside so the flow of the party is pulled to the area I want people to be.
Remember the goal is to enjoy your party too, keep it simple and delicious!