Hosting the guys this weekend? Avoid party fails with our cheat sheet

guys playing spike ball on the beach Photo by Susan B Sheldon/Shutterstock

This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine. For more excellent entertaining tips, pick up a copy of the issue today.

The guys are here and they’re ready to party. Crack a beer! And use our tips for big-group success. We’ll help you ensure the party weekend is smooth and fail-free.

Fail: Monotony-fuelled over-boozing

Prevent it: Do…something. Go golfing, fishing, hiking, or for a boat cruise, or get the bros to help with a project. An activity that seems like a dull time-suck to you is interesting for a non-cottager, and it keeps the group from sitting around and drinking all day long.

Fail: Dinner disorganization

Prevent it: Plan. “Otherwise you end up with just so much food. And that doesn’t make sense,” says Calgary-based nutritionist and cottager Janet Perry. Or you have no food—no good food—and “you end up having crap for dinner.” Put two guys in charge of the groceries, and have everyone else bring cash. Or divide up the meals beforehand. Tell everyone the cooking facilities they’ll have available—huge barbecue, but no microwave—and that you’ll provide basic ingredients. An even simpler alternative: guests can do most of the food prep at home, in advance, says Perry. “That way no one has to leave the dock early.”

Fail: Awk! Ward! Ness!

Prevent it: Friends don’t let friends invite other random friends. Adding an odd man out to an established group— especially in tight quarters, for an entire weekend—can throw off the dynamic and make things weird for everyone.

Fail: Angry neighbours

Prevent it: Before the gang arrives, prep your lakemates. Give them the details of the party, and why you’re having it, says Suzanne Nourse, an etiquette and protocol expert and the co-author of The Power of Civility. If it’s clear that this is a one- time, special weekend, “most neighbours will be okay with that.” Out on the dock, dial down the swearing. (Loud conversation is annoying. Loud, repeated F-bombs are really annoying.) Playing music outside? Direct speakers inwards towards the party, not out across the lake.

Fail: Septic backup

Prevent it: Limit showers to five minutes. Or zero minutes. Turn off the water between brushing teeth and shaving. Only run the dishwasher when it’s full, and don’t do laundry (that weekend; you should probably do laundry, you know, eventually). Flush as infrequently as possible, “and have the guys go outside,” says John Rowse of the B.C. Onsite Sewage Association. “Tell them, ‘Hey, find a tree.'”