For many of us, Labor Day is summer’s last hurrah. It’s the weekend when we put away the beach chairs, condition the twinks to go to bed earlier, and mentally prepare for the colder seasons ahead.
Considering the depressing nature of all that Labor Day symbolically signifies, it’s more than enough reason to throw one last shindig. To make your final fun-in-the-sun party a success, here are a few things you can do to help your guests remember you fondly as they head into fall.
1. Limit the guest list
It won’t be as hard as it seems since a lot of people head out of town in that one last trip to the beach, woods, or wherever else it is that they want to fuck to spice up their relationship after dark.
Evite is the eco-friendly alternative I live by when sending out invitations — and entirely appropriate for a Labor Day fete — but more thoughtful DIY invitations can be made in a few steps. By keeping the list short, you’ll reduce the amount of prep and clean-up work, and you’ll have more quality time to spend with individual guests.
2. Decorate but don’t overdo it
The old idiom “less is more” is in our collective lexicon for a reason — a little bit goes a long way. A few well-placed votive candles and brightly colored lanterns can make your patio pop while a simple yet well-dressed table can create an upscale aesthetic. Use real plates and silverware instead of paper and plastic products, and keep cloth napkins together with personalized party favors you made yourself.
3. Keep the menu simple but surprising
Come August, most of us are sick of hamburgers and hot dogs — or at least the gut-busting buns (why are we even werking out, kweens?!).
Sure, they’re an American staple, but how much processed meat can one eat over the course of a few months? (I once attended a party where the box of frozen burgers said grade-A meat, not beef. No thank you!) Instead, treat your guests to grilled salmon, mushroom bruschetta, shrimp shish kebab, BBQ pizza, and light-and-refreshing pasta salads that leave them satisfied but not stuffed.
4. Create a signature cocktail
Rather than buying umpteen bottles of liquor to accommodate every drinker’s preference, choose one spirit to make a signature drink.
An easy-breezy crowd-pleaser is the adult Arnold Palmer with one part sweet-tea vodka and two parts lemonade over ice. So the kids (and your alcohol-free guests) don’t feel left out, create the same cocktail in a virgin version. Add lemon wedges and fresh mint and serve. If you’re serving beer, choose one full flavor and one light beer selection — Corona and Amstel Light, for example.
Like the liquor, you don’t have to feel obligated to pick up a six-pack of everyone’s favorite brew. E-mail your menu ahead of time and inform guests they’re welcome to bring anything that’s not on the list.
5. Don’t forget the desserts
Summer’s ending and that calls for comfort food. But don’t gorge your guests — keep a small selection of sweets on hand to make your meal complete. For me, cake, cookies, and pies are out this time of year. Anything that requires baking, I’m not making — at least not in August. Root beer floats are easy to assemble and enjoyed by many. Fill frosty mugs with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream and top with root beer until frothy head forms (you know what that looks like). A fruity trifle is also an inspired choice (and it goes a long way), particularly if you layer it with store-bought pound cake, lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries.
6. Plan to play games
A deck of cards is great to have, but those games can last well into the night — or morning. If not a fan of cards, plan more active activities, like a water-balloon toss, egg races, or a horseshoe tournament. You may wince, but everyone secretly still loves that stuff, so don’t let me hear your queer ass deny it.
Also, set up a slip-and-slide for the otters (if you don’t have a pool) because they need to show off young and wet somehow. Maybe fill a festive piñata with candy and small “toys” for added enjoyment.
7. Set a budget and start/end times
Start winding down the party about 9:30 p.m., if it’s scheduled to end at 11 p.m. Slyly clear the table or whatever setup you’ve erected, offer your guests coffee, ask them what their day looks like tomorrow, and thank them for joining you. Except for the really hot ones; offer them a place to sleep, obvi. If your guests have had too much to drink, allow them to stay longer or overnight — even the unfortunate-in-the-face ones (you’re doing God’s work tonight).
If it’s a lingering twink, call their mom and an Uber. You’ll both be better for it in the morning.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He spends his time writing from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyrox.