Keep it casual with these 8 stress-free party ideas
While we’re sliding into our friends’ DMs regularly, it can feel like ages go by between seeing them in person. In the spirit of gathering more often, why not keep things casual and have a non-party get-together? Consider our plan for brunch that you can make while nursing a hangover and our tips for starting a book club that meets more than once. How about some non-stressful twists for a ladies’ night out or a happy hour that doesn’t depend on a bar that fits everyone? No matter how you choose to non-party, we’ve got the perfect invitation to match your super fun, super casual, just-because event.
1. A not-so-basic brunch
Skip the lines and the overpriced eggs, and host a brunch get-together at home or in an unexpected location. It’s the best of what we love about the weekend gathering that we love but also hate.
2. Stay in for Chilaquiles
A Mexico City not-so-delicate delicacy, Chilaquiles are the easiest and most delicious brunch cuisine comprised of things you probably have already in your pantry: a bag of tortilla chips. Cheese, salsa, and eggs. You don’t need to play short order cook to impress your guests, go with this non-recipe or this easy but fancy version from renowned CDMX Chef Enrique Olvera. You can make it (mostly) in advance, and it looks impressive served directly from a sheet pan. It’s the perfect dish for a slightly boozy or hungover crowd since it’s essentially an excuse to eat chips & salsa for breakfast.
3. Go out for dim sum
If you’re going to head for brunch, consider grabbing a table at a local dim sum spot, the Cantonese tradition of gathering and grazing on platters with steamer baskets full of bite-size dumplings, steamed buns, cakes, rolls served with tea and tarts for dessert. It’s the perfect alternative to the Eggs Benedict you can get anywhere, and usually half the price. Why we love it: It’s chill. Your waiter will course out your dishes little by little, so you can cask in the luxury of taking your time through brunch and not being rushed out to free up a table. The variety — this is an opportunity to try tons of small dishes. Plus you might try something new.
Baker’s Dozen Wooden Spoons
Field Cast Iron Skillet No. 8
Tu Casa Mi Casa
4. Happy hour on the go
Mix up your happy hour by throwing your drinks party outside. Try the roof of your office, or your backyard, or (sneakily) bring your road sodas to a local park. It’s a chill after-work drink hang without all the planning. Get your happy hour going with easy and delicious travel-friendly cocktails.
5. Bottles and cans, clap your hands
Inspired more by the bottled Italian spritzes you see in Capri than the sugary sweet wine coolers of the ’70s, new producers like Ramona, Hoxie, and St. Agrestis’ are breathing new life into easy-drinking wine spritzes and spirit-forward Negronis, while wineries like Bridge Lane and Wölffer are packaging their wines and ciders into transportable (and Instagrammable) bottles and cans.
6. Make a road soda
With a little more effort, turn a soda or juice into a cocktail with what bartenders call “built-in-can cocktails.” Grab your ingredients and mix them in the can once you get where you’re going: Pour out about 3 ounces of your can or bottle, add the remaining liquids, and garnish.
Dark & Stormy: ginger beer can (we love Goslings) + rum mini bottle + mint + lime wedge
G&T: flavored sparkling water (like Spindrift or LaCroix in lime or cucumber) + gin mini bottle + lime wedge
Paloma: sparkling grapefruit soda (like Gus’ or San Pellegrino) + tequila mini bottle + squeeze of grapefruit
Michelada: Tecate rimmed with lime & Tajin + dash of hot sauce & Worcestershire
Bloody Mary: Clamato + vodka mini bottle + horseradish
Ruby Grapefruit Wine Spritz
Dry White Cider
7. An anything but boring book club
Despite the rap, book clubs can actually be fun – you just need to set yourself up for success. Here’re some tips on how to throw a literary gathering that’s fun, interesting, and will actually get your group to read more than the Spark Notes.
Stick to a genre
If you’re going to read actual books, find a group of friends interested in a similar thing and stick with the genre. Get specific with sci-fi, YA novels, LGBT nonfiction, thrillers, or memoirs to keep your guests excited about the books to come.
Hit the news
Make your club timely with a news article club. Not everyone has the time or inclination to polish off a novel every few weeks. Mix up articles on culture, relationships, and work to keep things interesting. Cruise Medium, The New Yorker, or The Cut for new pieces. Keep a running list as people come across things they’d love to talk about together. Read an article the night before or on the subway ride to the party; no one will have an excuse not to.
Eat your knowledge
Cookbook clubs are perfect if you’re more about the snacks at book club. Pick a cookbook for everyone to cook a recipe from and make your book club a potluck. Try cooking by cuisine or by ingredient, but make sure you have a way to relay what recipe everyone will bring so you get a variety. To get you started, we love Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat, A Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones, and Where Cooking Begins, by Carla Lalli Music.
The Modern Cook’s Year
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Where Cooking Begins
8. A much-needed night out
We all need a little chill time without having to worry about hosting a party—time for a girl’s night out. None of these ideas require ANY cooking, cleaning, or tiptoeing around sleeping children, but they do require you to think outside the box and go with the flow. We love the suggestion from Priya Parker to make a rule around an event like this to keep everyone focused on the fun by taking a shot or picking up the tip if you check social media, mention your kids, work, or your significant other.
Drink & draw night: Look for a local gathering of art and booze at a bar or gallery near you where you can sip some wine, paint a picture, and not really care about the outcome.
Night at the museum: Many museums offer after-hour nights where you can explore the collection with cocktails in hand.
Roller skating: Channel that inner tween and grab your skates for an adult-only roller rink party sure to keep you spinning.
Wine tasting: Cheers to a night of friends with a wine tasting at your local wine shop. It’s a great way to find a new bottle you love, and it’s usually free!
Tarot readings or mentalist: Gather your gals and find your future with a local tarot card reader or mentalist. Even if you don’t believe it, it’s always fun to find out secrets from your friends.
Escape room: Paying to be scared isn’t for everyone, but an escape room is a fun way to test the limits with your besties and see who panics first.
No matter how you throw it, there’s no need to panic over a party. With just a little planning, the perfect invite, and a laid-back attitude, any occasion can be the best event of the season.