All-night prep work and a 100-person guest list do not a relaxing end-of-summer bash make. To bid the season adieu in style but without stress, we asked interior designer Katie Rosenfeld for three low-pressure party scenarios.
Harken back to a time when going off-grid was still possible. "Have guests check their iPhones and BlackBerrys in a cute basket at the door. Calm the resulting hysteria by having drinks at the ready," Rosenfeld says. Stick to lo-fi party games (Twister, Pictionary, Apples to Apples) and haul out a boom box and circa-1990s mix tapes.
No-Frills City Clambake
For a version of the New England classic, "pull out the inexpensive tablecloths - even burlap will do. Put sunflowers in white pitchers and place on tables with loads of citronella candles. Sprinkle the table with seashells, sea glass, and sand sourced from your last beach visit." To cut costs further, make it BYOL (lobster, that is).
"Use tons of red apples for decoration: Put them in apothecary jars, bowls, and platters. Line tables with craft paper, and place markers in cups for guests to draw with. Write the menu on a blackboard, and send everyone home with cookies packed in brown paper bags with handwritten messages, just like Mom used to do."
Hard labor can wait one more day.