The Ingredients You Need for a Great Party

Published / by Verica Lewis

Hey guys! It’s getting to be prime party season (I mean, when is it not?!) and today I wanted to put together my little guide to having an amazing get together! Here’s all the must-haves that I stick to when we’re throwing a hoe-down at our place.

 

First thing’s first, you’ve gotta invite the neighbors.

Inviting the neighbors is always the polite thing to do, and if you’re friendly with your neighbors, having there will just make your party even cooler! If you’re not super close, don’t worry. That just means you’ll have a couple less mouths to feed when they inevitably don’t show up, but it’s also good to cover your ground by inviting them so they know to expect that there might be some noise and activity that night, which they should maybe avoid if they don’t want to join. It’s also always better to invite them and have them not show up than to not invite them and have to answer awkward questions! So, invite nearby folks to either get the great ones around, or give the not so great ones a heads-up that you’ll be enjoying yourselves in spite of them.

 

Next up, a careful guest list!

 

Putting together a party is always a balancing act, to try to make sure there’s maximum fun and minimum frantic factor. So, I never do the FB route unless it’s a private invite. You want to know who’s coming! I also think it’s better if you don’t invite people who won’t have anyone else to talk to, unless you’re going to set them up with someone romantically, or a friend you’re sure they’ll love. If you invite a bunch of people you’re close to who aren’t necessarily close to each other, that can be super awk.

 

One of my rules I always follow when I’m putting together a guest list is to always make sure you have a balance between organized people and fun, crazy party people. You want enough put-together people to keep the crazy ones just under the out of control mark! Basically, bring a few reasonable adults to make sure things don’t get out of hand, and your stuff doesn’t end up damaged. That’s also good because you don’t want to end up cleaning up after everyone, so I always make sure there are a couple people I can count on to corral everybody into picking things up before the party’s over.

 

If you don’t want to foot the bill for everything, make sure you send out invitations that invite contributions!

 

If you’re gonna want people to bring food, drinks, or anything else, you should always let them know in advance rather than just hoping they’ll remember to. I also have found that in my experience, it’s always better to give people a specific request rather than just saying “bring food”, because that’s the difference between having a variety of things and having like 8 different sets of chips and salsa with nothing else to eat.

 

It’s also a super good party tip to invite people at different times, because you know your friends can run on different clocks a lot of the time. Tell the notoriously late people to get there an hour earlier, and tell your time stickler friends to get there at the proper start time!

 

Ok, next up, you need a great menu for whatever you’re gonna be serving, and make sure all your guests bring things that fit the theme.

You want to have a few different options for eats and drinks, so maybe plan 3 cocktails you can make easily, and have two beer options and two wine options. Of course, if you want to take things to the next level, we’ve found that it’s so, so satisfying to blow people away with a pint from a mini kegerator right on the counter. That just shows you have your shit together to the nth degree! I generally have an ale, a lager, a white wine, a red wine, and whatever cocktails are in my head. Then I always have a non-alcoholic thing around (like some nice root beer or ginger ale) if someone’s sick and not drinking, or if you have a friend that just doesn’t drink period.

 

For the food, you can do really whatever you want, but don’t cheap out on a crappy platter from the supermarket with celery and dip. You want real food that fills people up at least halfway, like some nice wings, little baked things like spinach squares or quiche pieces, and then the nibbles like crackers, cheese, sausages and all that kind of stuff. If you’re going to jut have really light things, make sure people know that so they’re not planning on getting food and end up hungry.

 

Last but definitely not least, you should come up with an amazing playlist! Your playlist totally sets the mood for the party, and the right soundtrack for a barbecue is totally different from what you want for a classy wine evening. So spend some time playing around with ideas and figure out a nice arc that builds up and then calms down later at night. Oh, and I know this one can be kinda hard, but you should really try to include things that your guests like as well as what you want to hear!
Alright, those are all my ingredients for a prime party! Happy socializing, peeps!

Kegerator Reviews for the Beer Fans Out There!

Published / by Verica Lewis

Hi guys! If you’re a beer-lover of any kind, whether it’s a local craft brew or a big brand like Coors or you know the struggle of getting just the right temperature when you have a beer at home, and making sure what you’re tasting out of the fridge tastes the same as it does in your favorite bar.

 

There’s no better way to experience beer at home than to get a kegerator! I’m a casual beer drinker myself, and I was never what you’d call a beer nut until I met my boyfriend, Cody, who’s super, super into beer. He knows everything about different ingredients and types of beer, and he’s someone who just doesn’t like to settle for bottles, and besides, we were really racking up bills with going to the bars and buying beer from the liquor store.

I figured a beer nerd like him would really appreciate having a way for him to totally take care of his beers at home, and obsess over the right temperatures and CO2 balances and all that other stuff I don’t like to bother with. We’d also been talking about trying to fix up our bar down in the basement den, so this seemed like a great opportunity for me to be able to have more get-togethers at our house, and for him to show off his beer skills and knowledge and play bartender.

 

So for his birthday this past month I decided to get him a kegerator. If you haven’t seen one of these before, they’re essentially mini fridges designed to hold an average size keg, with an opening in the top for bar taps and hoses so you can pull pints from a keg at your house. Basically, they’re a beer lover’s wet dream. If you’re using a kegerator, you can buy your favorite beers in bulk, and save a lot of money over buying bottles and bar pints, and every single beer you have at home is perfect, because you don’t have to worry about a weird, off bottle or spacey bartender.

 

Like I said, I like beer a lot, and I always enjoy learning the basics about IPAs versus lagers, but as far as the technical stuff, I’m pretty useless. So I spent a lot of time reading kegerator reviews online to help me out. A lot of them seemed kind of iffy, but I found one site that had really helpful breakdowns of each model, and they recommended one by EdgeStar, which is a company I already knew about because our dehumidifier is made by them.

It was the only kegerator I found out there be rated positively for reliability, which I guess is a major weak point on these things. It also gets the coldest temperature ratings, which is what you need to be able to keep lagers as well as ales, because ales like warmer temperatures and lagers need to be just above freezing. So, I thought it was worth the price to have a kegerator we could put literally any beer in as we go, instead of one that only works for ales. Cody likes to mix it it, and we definitely go through phases, so I think this’ll be a really good long term option to have.  I thought it was a really good deal because it came with all the hookups we needed to get the taps working and they also threw in some kegs to make homebrew beer, if that’s something we ever get around to doing. It’s called the Edgestar Ultra Low, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s looking for one. We thought it was super easy to get set up and it’s also pretty well-made, as far as we can tell. The taps are nice, and we don’t feel like it’d be worth it to make any major changes.

 

I think a lot of people would probably cringe at the price tag on the EdgeStar I bought for us, but I think if you’re sure you’re going to get a lot of use out of yours (and we sure as hell do), it’s worth it if you’re going to drink at least a pint each on most days of the week. Between the money you spend in buying kegs over the bottles, and especially saving money going to the bar, driving, tipping, all that stuff, it’s a no-brainer. We have some friends over for beers and a game once a month or so, which is going to make a big difference as well, if this past month is any indication. According to one website I looked at, kegs save you about 50% on average as opposed to buying bottles.

 

I would also definitely check out The Cooler List if you’re in the market for a kegerator, or thinking about getting one. As a non-beer expert, I found their reviews really helpful, and I couldn’t be happier with the Edge Star I bought. It should pay for itself in the next year or two, and Cody’s over the moon with it. They also have some good reviews for coolers you use for stuff you can’t get in kegs, like import beer and stuff like that, which we still have from time to time, and those are here: http://thecoolerlist.com/beverage

 

So, yeah–it’s about a month into our kegerator experience, and aside from having to fiddle with the gauges a bit to find the right temperature and gas levels, we’ve been really enjoying it. It seems like every beer is even better than at a bar, and our first party was really great. Our friends were super jealous of our Edge Star and I know I definitely appreciate how much cheaper it was to have a keg instead of buying so many bottles.

View this, beer lovers!