Solutions: Survey says this is the perfect summer gathering

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Hamburgers are the top pick for a backyard gathering.

With the summer social season upon us, it helps to know what the average guest might enjoy at a casual gathering. After surveying 2,000 people, Four Loko, a premium malt beverage, may have found just the right formula for a perfect summer party.

 Respondents said their ideal scenario consists of friends and family mingling in a friend’s backyard on a Saturday, starting at 3:30 p.m. and lasting for around five hours. The perfect summer party would have 20 guests who are treated to fresh fruit, chips and dip, grilled corn and hamburgers. Other must-haves include an ice chest filled with cold beer and pop music playing in the background.

Those surveyed also shared what to avoid, like pickled veggies for appetizers, wraps as the main dish at a barbecue, and bread served as a side dish.

Despite the fact that Jell-O was once a staple when entertaining, respondents thought it was no longer welcome on the dessert table. They also said hard liquor as well as juice weren’t a great idea for a summer party.

Here are some of the detailed findings for planning an unforgettable summer gathering.

According to the survey, 77 percent of participants said that Saturday was by far the best day to host a summer soiree. As for the perfect time, the general consensus fell between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

More than half that participated said they would rather be in a backyard setting than anywhere else for a summer gathering.

For the right mix, 46 percent surveyed said that both friends and family should be on the guest list, but 42 percent prefer to keep the total amount between 10 and 20 attendees.  

Food is a big factor for any summer get-together. The number one choice for appetizers was chips and dip followed by an assortment of meats and cheeses, and veggies and hummus.

For the main dish, hamburgers were the favorite pick with hot dogs coming in second. As for sides, respondents chose to stick with the classics, like grilled corn and potato salad, with fresh salad coming in third.

Fresh fruit was among the most popular desserts, followed by ice cream, cookies and brownies. Preferred beverages included ice-cold beer and soda.

The right playlist had a wide range, with more than 20 percent choosing pop music, followed by rock. As for how they like to spend their time when attending the perfect summer party, 28 percent said they just want to mingle, while others want to swim or play games like cornhole.

The perfect length of time for these gatherings turned out to be between four and six hours. And it looks like this celebration wears out the average partygoer because 51 percent said they like to go home and unwind afterward, while  29 percent said they wanted to go right to sleep.

When it’s time to plan your next summer soiree or bring a dish to someone else’s event, you can refer to this survey as a guideline for guests or add your own memorable elements.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at