How to Host the Perfect Summer Party
We love all parties — but summer parties are something special. The summer party appetizers and cocktails are next-level. There's often an outdoor element, since the weather's warm and sunny. And it just feels good to get together.
But the same reasons we love summer parties can make hosting summer parties challenging. Handling a summer BBQ after being out of practice all winter can take some work, for instance. And being outdoors means contending with the elements, including heat, sun, bugs, and unexpected weather events.
Luckily, we've used our wealth of experience when it comes to hosting summer parties to create a list of hosting hacks. Think of these as the 10 commandments of summer parties. We've got clever tips for keeping bugs away, thoughtful touches that will make your guests gush, and planning strategies that will ensure you get to have fun at your get-together too.
Make for the shade.
Sunburns and heat stroke can kill a party's mood within minutes, so if you're having a summer party outdoors, make sure there's at least a section of shade where guests can retreat to. That might be a covered porch, a leafy tree, or inside your home — or you can wait to host your party until after the sun sets. Your guests will appreciate you for saving their skin.
Remember the things that guests might forget.
Depending on what type of party you're having, try to think of what guests will need to bring in order to have a good time, and assume that at least some people are going to forget that thing. For instance: somebody is bound to forget towels at every pool party, and it might slip a guest's mind to bring sunscreen to your garden gathering. Have these things on hand and accessible so that nobody feels uncomfortable asking.
Prepare for the party to last all night.
Because of the afternoon heat, it's a good idea to start the festivities later in the evening. Prepare for nightfall with blankets, string lights, candles, and perhaps even a fire pit with some marshmallows and sticks for roasting up s'mores.
Make sure that everyone has a seat.
Contrary to popular belief, playing musical chairs at a party isn't very fun. So overdo it on seating. Have extra chairs, and if you're in a tight space, try to think of space-saving alternatives — cushions, bean bags, stools, ottomans, benches. Take into account guests with different abilities too — some people may need a higher seat, or a chair with a backrest, while others can sit comfortable on a blanket or cushion. However you swing it, make sure everyone has a place to rest their bodies.
Help everyone chill out . . . literally.
There's no telling when a heat wave will hit, so play things safe. Have fans on hand, always buy more ice than you think is necessary, and serve up frozen treats like this no-churn mason jar ice cream, which can easily be made in larger, single-serve batches.
Keep an overly stocked drink station.
It's a no-brainer to provide beverages for guests during the summer heat, but be sure to display more than just alcoholic drinks. Remember, alcohol is more potent in the warm weather, so it's important to keep everyone hydrated. You can never have enough ice, water, mocktails, and lemonade (we love Brazilian lemonade) at your beverage station.
Keep things exciting with activities.
While general dinner parties are fun, it's a great idea to have activities for kids — or just to keep the festivities going — such as bocce ball, outdoor movies, or a craft station.
Plan for a vibe, not a theme.
Listen, we love, love, love a theme party. But unless you're with a particularly theatrical crowd, going overly specific can be a party foul. Nothing kills a good get-together more than an overly contrived theme like "Midnight at Jay Gatsby's mansion during springtime." Instead, opt for a feeling. Decorate with seasonal flora, stick to a fun color palette with blooms and linens, and play music that you actually enjoy.
Keep pests away.
Nobody likes getting attacked by mosquitos during dinner, so light unscented bug-repellent candles and avoid stagnant water around the party location. This one's especially key if you're having a party at dusk. And in keeping with the "remember what your guests will forget" tip, have plenty of extra heavy-duty bug sprays on hand. We like to keep DEET and natural options, so all guests will have their preference handy.
Keep the menu simple.
A simple menu makes life easier for you and your guests, so stick to a few easy dishes. Try portable meals like bratwursts and burgers or refreshing dishes like cool watermelon salad. Fewer trips back and forth to the kitchen makes for a happy host, and curated food choices mean you're serving only the best!