Design Summer Party

Posted on ma 04 juni 2018 in designs


One of the challenges facing us the coming years is a return to a more communal way of living. A party is a good way to practice coming together and exchanging ideas and inspiration. A way also to connect different circles of people.

The goal is to create a friendly atmosphere, encourage an exchange of ideas and forge new connections between people.

Collect site information

Base map

Weather forecast

The weather forecast is the week preceding the party was very variable. It varied from sunny to cloudy to rains and thunderstorms. Precipitation varied from 0mm to 3.3mm of rain. Forecasted temperatures started at 25°C one week out and dropped to around 22°C on the day before.

The actual weather was mostly cloudy at 22°C. There was no rain.

Evaluate the information

Summer Party: 5 W's

  • Why
    • build community
    • encourage connections
    • have a good time
    • show off garden
    • celebrate life
  • Who
    • Arno organizes
    • Ina helps
    • people from Lindyhop community
    • people from proeftuin Meerhoven community
    • people from Voedselbos Weverkeshof community
    • 24 people total invited
      • 15 confirmed, 4 declined, 5 maybe
      • 3 confirmed cancelled last-minute
      • 1 maybe came
    • in the end 13 guests came (54% success rate)
  • What
    • potluck for food
    • improvisation games
    • encourage mingling
    • tour of the garden
  • Where
    • Arno's house: ground floor and backyard
  • When
    • June 2nd, 2018 from 16h

9 ways of observing

  • Observe communities
    • Lindy hop
    • proeftuin Meerhoven
    • voedselbos Nuenen
    • neighborhood
  • Observe edge
    • as applied to space
      • front door: threshold to party
      • hallway: intermediate zone for unpacking
      • hallway - kitchen / living room: introduction to party
      • kitchen / living room - terrace: further exploration
      • terrace - garden: further exploration
    • as applied to people
      • interests
      • origin / history
      • social circles
  • Observe energy
    • food and drinks
    • sunshine
    • music / dj
    • energizers like improv games
    • sitting vs standing
  • Observe flow
    • placement of food and drinks in relation to gathering places
    • rearrange furniture to improve flow
    • less sitting, more standing (and walking)
    • see map
  • Observe from stillness
    • living room should be quieter (if not raining)
    • near back of garden
    • under the tree will be coolest / most shaded
    • the house can do with some cleaning
  • I wonder...
    • what dishes people will bring
    • about the reactions of guests to the garden
    • about the types and amount of conversations
    • how the cat will react to so many people (or if she will simply retreat upstrairs)
  • Observe limits
    • sufficient room if not raining, crowded if only indoor
    • available glasses, plates, bowls and cutlery
    • limited seating (14 seats)
      • inside:
        • 1x sofa (seats 3)
        • 2x pouf (seats 1)
        • 4x chair (seats 1)
      • outside:
        • 1x bench (seats 2)
        • 2x lawn chair (seats 1)
        • 1x pallet table (seats 1)
  • Observe past & future
    • last party at the house was a long time ago
    • maybe repeat every summer
  • Observe patterns
    • cloud: people clumping together for conversations and drifting apart again
    • sheet: tarp to create extra shade / rain cover

Flow of visitors

  • Where does it come from?
    • outside via front door
  • What does it bring with it?
    • food and drinks
    • packaging and containers
    • coats and bags
    • gifts and other stuff
    • expectations
  • What is the effect on my system?
    • food and drinks need place to set down
    • coats and bags need place for storage
    • bring plates, glasses and cutlery into service
    • dirty floors
    • dirty plates, glasses and cutlery
    • possibly broken plates or glasses
    • empty packaging: bottles, cartons, plastic containers
  • Where does it leave?
    • outside via front door
  • What does it take with?
    • leftover food
    • coats and bags
    • memories and inspiration

Apply Permaculture Ethics and Principles


  • Earth care
    • Reduce
      • avoid pre-packaged food and drinks
      • add water to store-bought orange juice
      • some guests came by bicycle, some shared rides or came by public transport
    • Reuse
      • plates, bowls, utensils (after cleaning)
      • wine bottles for our own wine making
    • Recycle
      • water for dishwashing to garden
      • plastic and glass in seperate bins
    • Repair
      • nothing broke during the party, no repairs necessary
  • People care
    • connecting people
    • sharing good food
    • sharing joy
  • Fair share / Future care
    • potluck
    • vegetarian dishes
    • share and exchange knowledge
      • show what can be done on a small piece of land
      • composting
      • water catchment
      • food preservation
      • food preparation

Attitudinal principles

  • Multiple elements x multiple functions
    • garden for relaxing, limited sitting, social connection, education
    • kitchen for sharing food, social connection
    • living room for social connection, limited sitting
    • social connection can happen anywhere
    • sitting in garden and living room
    • sharing food in kitchen
    • education in garden and kitchen
  • Everything gardens (everything has an effect on its environment)
    • placement of food and drinks affects where people gather
    • consider flow of people inside, outside, and from inside to outside
  • The problem is the solution
    • not enough chairs for all the guests: removing the chairs encourages movement and mingling
    • not enough plates and cutlery: encourage participants to bring finger food for the potluck or encourage people to wash their plate and cutlery when done for the other people to use
  • Yield is theoretically unlimited
    • use left over food from potluck for dinner the next day(s)
    • create new connections between people
    • spark new interests
    • spark new insights
    • educate on gardening
    • educate on permaculture
  • Work with nature
    • humans are social animals: create natural gathering places where people can stand and chat
    • keep people to surfaced areas to avoid compacting soil
  • Minimum effort, maximum effect
    • have a deck of conversation starters: questions to encourage people to share
    • place all food items in the kitchen
    • place dishwashing tub in the sink and encourage people to wash their own dish after they are done

Plan for action



  • create kanban chart
  • clean toilet
  • clean living room
  • clear wardrobe in hallway
  • source drinks
  • source food
  • clean kitchen
  • clean hallway
  • prepare food
  • welcome guests

Optional tasks

  • (optional) rearrange furniture in living room
  • (optional) source tarp (6m x 4m max size)
  • (optional) install tarp


  • 2 liter white wine (2.5 bottles)
  • 1.5 liter orange juice
  • 1 liter coffee
  • 1 liter water
  • 0.75 liter sparkling water (0.5 bottle)
  • 0.75 liter elderberry champagne (1 bottle)
  • no tea

Total consumed: 7 liter for 15 people is about 0.5 liter per person.



  • vegan cocoa pie
  • couscous salad
  • mirabel chutney
  • homemade fermeted cabbage
  • bag of tortilla chips (unused)
  • bag of salt sticks (unused)

Guests brought:

  • pumpkin soup with sour cream and parsley
  • various omlets
  • spinach pie
  • pasta salad
  • green beans
  • madelaines
  • rosé wine
  • white wine
  • chocolate bar (unused)
  • tea leafs (unused)
  • mint plant (unused)

We had plenty. The food looked amazing. At the end of the party, we encouraged guests to take some leftover food home with them.


The first guest arrived a litte after 16h. As guests came in, we greeted them. We put their bags on the shoe rack and hung their coats on the hooks. The food and drinks they brought we placed in the kitchen on the wooden counter. We places plates on the wooden counter as well as the cutlery. The variety of dishes and colors looked amazing.

We offered some homemade elderberry champagne to drink and showed them to the terrace. This is where most guests were at the beginning of the party.

When most of the guests were in, Ina and I put the spinach pie in the oven and the pumpkin soup on the stove. When both were sufficiently heated, I told guests to come in and pick out what they wanted to eat.

I asked to come in though the garden doors, through the kitchen and exit to the garden again. The flow though the living room and into the kitchen proved to work the best as dishes, bowls and cutlery were then all at the beginning of the food line.

Because I had my birthday recently, the Lindy hoppers decided to give me a birthday dance. This tradition involved me standing in the middle of a circle and starting a dance with Ina. At any time, someone else can come into the circle and steal me from the person I was dancing with. At the end of the song, the birthday dance is over.

The last guests left around 21h. Ina and I collected plates, cutlery and glasses. I washed the dishes, Ina dried them. Thirty minutes later we were finished.

It had been a good day.


4 Questions

What went well?

  • weather was very good: not too hot, no rain
  • mingling between different groups
  • I was happy everybody was having a good time
  • good food and drinks
  • relaxed atmosphere
  • surprise birthday dance
  • Linky had no problems hanging with the guests, in fact, Linky was the star!
  • cleaning up was simple
  • surplus of food and drinks
  • flow of people coming in for food

What could I do differently?

  • elderberry champagne could have used another week to ripen a bit more — most people liked it nonetheless
  • facilitate a community building experience — getting to know people on a deeper level
  • do a walking tour in the garden
  • open the other garden door as well to create a bigger connection between inside and outside

What is my vision?

  • the party went very well. I can see myself organizing a party more regularly in the future.

What is my next step?

  • organize another party next year.