I love throwing dinner parties and consider myself a modestly successful amateur when it comes to putting together a nice summer soiree. But, I don't think Martha will ever approve of me. My dishes don't match and the wine glasses are all different sizes and I didn't have fancy party favors that I labored umpteen hours on.
But seriously, only three components are truly necessary for a good party:
First of all, friends. Without these, you can't do much.
Second, good food. This can lead to acquaintances becoming good friends. See above. I love throwing a party where I cook everything, but with the bigger parties, there is nothing bad about having a potluck. And sometimes it can be fun to have a theme.
Finally, a sense of humor. You can't be a very good hostess if you get upset when something spills or if things don't go according to plan. We were going to a big wine tasting party this weekend at some other friend's house and they had a family emergency and couldn't hold the party. So with less than 24 hour notice, I decided to host. That meant spending all day Saturday cleaning and not being able to make the complicated fruit tart I had been planning but I would much rather be with my friends than worry about a dirty house or fancy dessert!
And that's it! Of course other items can help too.
Having a little space to spread out can feel luxurious. It took me 2 years until I found a sideboard appropriate for the space and my budget. And I still whipped out a ratty table for desserts and threw a tablecloth on it to hide the fact I do art projects on it.
Something tasty to drink helps too; especially if you call yourself a wine club! Since it was such short notice, I just told people to bring whatever suited their taste. It was a very warm day, so we ended up sampling a lot of Sauvignon Blancs, Roses, and Sangioveses.
I consider every season party season. I know a lot of people like to throw parties in summer. It is easier because you can spill out onto the deck, but if you have friends, food, and a sense of humor, what are you waiting for?