Five tips for hosting a no-fuss party

When was the last time you entertained or spent meaningful time catching up with good friends over a leisurely dinner?

If you answered either option "more than three months ago", then it's time to take advantage of summer's more easygoing pace and organise a gathering of your own.

While that may sound daunting, the truth is that you can organise a lovely party without a lot of work.

Here's a plan that will take you from dreaming about it to actually doing it in less than 30 minutes.

If you're reading this in the morning, follow these steps and you could even host a small gathering this evening, - even if you work full-time.

Five key steps to quickly organising a summer party:

1. Create and send a gorgeous invitation via Paperless Post.

There's nothing like an invitation to make even an impromptu get-together feel more like a real party.

But skip the paper invites and the generic emails. Instead, create a gorgeous invitation that is sent via email in an envelope by www.paperlesspost.com.

The site offers a library of stunning designs, many of them free. It should take 10 minutes. So go ahead and give your guests a reason to feel special.

2. Ask guests to bring a side dish or dessert.

Parties are usually more fun when the guests get to contribute a culinary delight or two. So be sure to specify in the invitation that part of the RSVP is letting you know which side dish or dessert each guest is bringing.

Don't feel guilty! Your job is to organise the gathering, supply the heart of the meal and provide the space.

3. Whip up a gorgeous table centrepiece using an old, clean wine (or other) bottle.

Simply add a few tall greens and flowers, like Queen Anne's lace, from your backyard and tie a ribbon around it. The mouth of the bottle is small, so a few flowers go a long way.

4. Prepare a mouthwatering marinade for grill items.

A nice marinade will make all the difference. The good news is that they are incredibly simple to make.

Just combine an oil, like olive oil, with an acid, like lemon juice, add some spices and you're done.

There is a list of 10 great marinades on www.thedailymeal.com/10-great-meat-marinades.

5. Brew some iced tea. 

There's nothing quite like a refreshing glass of iced tea (or lemonade) on a hot day. Heat up some water and add tea bags to soak. When the tea cools to room temperature, add ice and serve.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organised.

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