Friday night means one thing in my neighborhood. Porch Party! And I do believe the good folks of Munger Place Historic District (where I live) have it down to an art.
First off, let’s talk about the porch. Most homes built at the turn of the century embraced the iconic front porch. Before air-conditioning, the porch provided an outside living area enjoyed by the entire family, while the porch swing offered the perfect place to catch a breeze. In Munger Place, we still embrace our porches, gathering together at the end of each busy week to catch up and ease into the weekend.
Porch parties bring people together, turning neighbors into friends, building community. I’ve seen the magic first-hand.
Of course it helps to have a porch, but a patio, deck, or front yard will work just as well. Memorial Day is just around the corner, and the weather is glorious. Why not start your own neighborhood tradition with these porch party guidelines:
- pick a day and time for your weekly event (our parties are held each Friday night during spring and fall, 6-8 P.M.);
- circulate a sign-up list for hosting (our list fills up quickly!);
- the weekly host provides appetizers à la front porch; and
- neighbors bring their own beverages.
Now for the basic elements for a successful southern porch party.
FOOD. As host, food shouldn’t be a burden. Keep the menu simple—just something to nibble on—appetizers (chips and salsa, a veggie tray, etc.) and cookies or brownies for dessert. Don’t forget plates and those cute napkins you bought on sale last summer.
DRINKS. Although everyone brings his or her own beer and wine, the host should have cups (just in case), a corkscrew and bottle opener. We keep our bottle opener attached to the house. It’s easier that way. Also, a tub of chilled water is a necessity (this is Texas). And sweet tea for those who don’t imbibe. (Huh?)
SEATING: Porch steps and railings provide built-in seating. And if you have a porch swing, bonus! There are so many folks at our porch parties, most people mill around talking to one another, but it’s a good idea to provide a few folding chairs for extra seating.
UNINVITED GUESTS: Let’s get real. Mosquitoes will be the first to arrive. Be prepared with citronella candles and plants, as well as fly swatters and bug repellant for guests to use. But what about wasps? Of course, you don’t have wasps because your porch ceiling is painted haint blue. According to southern folklore, the proper shade of blue will not only protect your porch from haints, but will also repel wasps. (FYI-my favorite porch ceiling shades are Sherwin Williams Soar #SW-6799 and Benjamin Moore Cumulus Cotton 2063-70. Perfect names, soothing colors.)
BATHROOM: Some people (usually kids) will need to use your bathroom. Make sure it’s presentable. Just saying.
DECOR: You already have baskets of flowers and lush ferns on your porch, right? Sweep off your front steps, fluff the pillows on your glider and break out a vintage tablecloth. In case the party extends late into the night, and sometimes it will, add twinkle lights. And don’t forget to provide a trash can. (Simple yet often overlooked.)
KIDS & PETS. Kids and pets are always welcome at our neighborhood porch parties. The host typically provides additional drinks for the kids—juice, lemonade or water. Sweaty kids drink a lot, just like their parents. Don’t forget Fido—he needs water too. And providing an activity for the kids will make for more relaxed porch party parents.
Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for throwing a porch party. Keep it simple. The goal is to have good old-fashioned fun in the neighborhood.
See you on the porch!
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band