Every year, my husband and I throw a gigantic party and invite everyone we know. Our house is miniscule, so the party must be mainly confined to our back yard, back patio and deck. This means we have to choose the date carefully to make sure it isn't too hot, too cool or raining.
Last year we made the huge mistake of having our party over Labor Day Weekend, which made for a very light turnout. This year we're shooting for mid-October. It'll still be nice out, but probably not hot.
When we have some disposable income, we do a nice party with catered food, kegs of beer, etc. This will not be one of those years. This year it'll be potluck and BYOB, but I don't think our friends will mind. We'll buy some ice, hot dogs, bratwurst and buns, fire up the grill and let the rest work itself out.
We plan to set up on the deck so that my band and at least one of my husband's bands can play, then we'll open it up so our other musician friends can jam if they want to. I always worry that the non-musicians will feel left out, but they seem to enjoy themselves.
We sometimes have as many as 100 people come by over the course of the day. There's minimal overlap between groups and I notice that people ordinarily find a person or two that they know and cling to them until they leave.
My question for all of you: what can we do to encourage people who don't know each other to mingle? I'll take any ideas I can get.