The ULTIMATE Summer Party Planning Guide
Hosting any event can be tiresome. Hosting an event in the summer can be especially challenging due to the heat and extra sweat generated even from just thinking about how to prepare for it. During party time do you constantly find yourself running around making sure everyone is happy, with a plate of food and drink in hand, that conversations are flowing all while music is continuously playing softly in the background? And once the day is over, are you left with a house that needs a deep clean and questioning whether you chatted with anyone for longer than 10 seconds or more importantly whether you actually had any fun?
To alleviate some of the stress of having to run around or make last minute adjustments to your décor and the menu, here are some tips on how to properly plan for your next summertime party. Incorporating many of these tips into your party planning will give you more opportunities to catch up with everyone and allow you to take part and enjoy the festivities.
If you’re planning to grill for your party, make sure to marinate meats and veggies the night before so they have time to soak up flavors. Prepare side dishes that aren’t loaded with mayo or dairy products that you need to worry about keeping cool in the summer heat. Opt for a quinoa salad with fresh veggies tossed in olive oil, an easy pickled cucumber salad, and grilled corn on the cob that guests can roll in butter and/or queso fresco and sprinkle with chili powder and a squeeze of lime as they come off the grill.
Instead of having every type of liquor on hand with just about every juice and soda to accompany a wide array of cocktails, choose a signature cocktail and make batches of it ahead of time so all you need to do is add ice and pour or better yet dispense (see further down). Some great ideas for batched drinks include punches and sangrias. Keep it light, fruity, and flowing. This will also allow you to spend more time with guests.
Keep your décor simple and effortless. Use craft paper as a table runner for your buffet table for easy cleanup. Position a few small potted plants as a centerpiece and add white caddies to hold cutlery and napkins. Set a tray to the side for displaying glasses with a pitcher of water and cups for soda, water, and beer. Leave the rest of the table open for food trays and guests to rest their food or drinks while talking.
This is a must – simple and easy yet sometimes overlooked. Hook up your smartphone to some external speakers and stream some music from Pandora or Apple Music. Pick music everyone will love, whether it’s summertime favorites or a playlist from the 80’s it’s sure to keep the party going.
Most people like to end their meal with a sweet note, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be baking for days to perfect the 7-layer cake recipe you saw on the Food channel. You can keep it simple and still satisfy guest’s sweet tooth. One simple dessert to try is vanilla ice cream with honey-poached apricots. The poaching can be done beforehand so when it comes time to serve the dish the heat from the apricots will have dissipated and it won’t turn the ice cream to liquid. You can top with almond slivers and/or blueberries to add more density and color to the dessert.
A great alternative is a no bake dessert. Make ice cream sandwiches days in advance using graham crackers, gingersnap, shortbread, or chocolate chip cookies – the options are truly endless. They are the perfect solution for those hot days when the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven – plus it will help keep your guests cool and refreshed.
Party Planning Decor and Product Ideas
Once you’ve got your menu set and you have created your music playlist, here are some ideas for great entertaining décor and products that will help set the tone and get you and your home ready to entertain.
Party String Lights – Brightown $19.95 – Whether you’re having an indoor party or an outdoor one, these party string lights will set the mood and keep your entertaining room cool during those balmy summer nights.
Drink Bucket – Dot & Bo $31 – For guests who prefer beer have a Dink bucket on hand and keep it filled with ice. Also, stock it with some Italian soda Italian soda and Pellegrino on hand for the designated drivers or those who don’t imbibe.
Water Pitcher – Pier1 Imports $39.95 – This hammered stainless steel copper pitcher can hold 6oz when in use and can serve as a great accent piece when not in use.
Bluetooth Speakers – Bose $179 – These Bluetooth speakers transmit great sound and are perfect to use for parties, while relaxing at home, or on the go for listening to your favorite music or podcasts.
Cocktail Napkins – IKEA $1.99 – The fun summertime pattern of these beverage napkins will serve as a great alternative to coasters as well as keep condensations from the ice-cold drinks off guests hands.
Folding Table – Cosco Industries $55.27 – A large buffet is a must for parties, but can be bulky. This one is foldable and can easily go from functional to invisible.
Potted Plants – IKEA $7.99 – Potted plants can serve as a centerpiece on your buffet table. You can put all of them in the center or spread them out on your buffet table.
Kitchen Towels – Macy’s $12.99 – These are great for wiping up spills or helping wipe the sweat off your brow as you grill those delicious meats and veggies.
Beverage Dispenser – Joss & Main $32.95 – Once you have your signature cocktail made, pour it into this dispenser. It holds over 4 liters of liquid and is a great way to prevent spills and keep your guests cocktail glasses permanently on full.
Paper Cups – IKEA $0.99 – Stock up on these as cups and ice are always the first things party planners run out of. Make sure there’s plenty of both. Choose a simple design that can accompany any type of party so you use leftovers for your next shin-dig.
Table Runner – Minted $12 – This Kraft paper table runner with an elegant foil design will provide your tabletop with a tabletop with a nice and keep your cleanup process to three simple steps – clear table, roll, recycle.
Ice Bucket – Etsy $22 – Ice is a necessity at parties and especially for ones held in the summer. Whether it is needed to dilute a cocktail or chill water and soda make sure you have a lot on hand to keep guests cool and hydrated.
Fan – Vornado $99.99 – It wouldn’t be a summer party without sun and heat. Keep guests cool with this stylish retro yet very powerful fan.
Serving Tray – World Market $13.99 – A serving tray can be used to indicate a drink station or to transport drinks from table to guests. At this price maybe you should get two!
Flatware Caddy – Towle Living $18.98 – This utensil caddy separates the three utensils so people won’t have to dig for a fork before they dig into the delicious chow.