WORDS: Kristin Louis
Summer is a great time to throw a party. You can have it inside or outside and draw from a wide range of menu possibilities and potential activities, from swimming to outdoor games. And there’s no need to worry about the size of your budget — you can have a great summer get-together without breaking the bank. Fire up the grill, lay out some delicious summer food, turn up the music, and you’ve got a recipe for a good time.
Keep It Cool
If your soiree unfolds on a really hot day, create some shady spots for your guests with umbrellas or, if the budget permits, plan ahead by renting a tent big enough to let everyone get out of the sun when necessary. Or, you could rent a few misters and arrange them strategically around the yard. If the weather won’t cooperate, either due to rain or dangerously high temperatures, bring the party inside and turn up the air conditioner. There’s no need to force it and make everyone uncomfortable if you can accommodate them in the house.
A Summer Menu
One of the great things about a summer party is that you can’t go wrong with the menu. Everyone loves traditional summer food, from hot dogs and hamburgers to sausage and steak. Or, you could do something a little different by grilling fish and laying out the ingredients for fish tacos. Pick up some healthy items at your local farmers’ market (such as asparagus, eggplant, or squash), marinate them for a while, and give them a few minutes on the grill. Look for fresh fruit at your local market, prepare a refreshing fruit salad appetizer, or whip up a batch of summer salad, a simple recipe with healthy ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, and purple onion that can feed a lot of guests. You can also consider having your party catered by a barbecue restaurant. Barbecue with greens and cornbread is always popular.
No summer party would be complete without music. If you’re planning a small, intimate gathering, a smartphone and a speaker will probably do the job nicely. A larger affair may call for a DJ or a larger speaker if you’re up for something a bit more ambitious. Select a playlist with a wide range of music, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Nothing creates an atmosphere quite like lighting. You can find attractive string lighting for about $20 or wrap rope lighting around trees, poles, banisters, and chairs. Party lighting comes in a variety of lengths, styles, and colors, so consider mixing it up and giving your party an eclectic taste. Luminary bags and light-up lanterns are also fun alternative options. Or, you could go with a thematic party motif and decorate with a South Seas or Hawaiian theme.
As with the appropriate decor outside, consider the atmosphere inside the home. Chances are, guests will be inside your house off and on, or the party may even move indoors if the weather gets bad or the heat gets too intense. Be sure party areas are light, airy, and inviting. This goes beyond festive table settings and making sure curtains and blinds are open to let the sunshine in. Now is the perfect time to give your interior a boost. Switch to seasonal decor by changing up your art, adding in new throw pillows, and strategically placing lamps, or you can take it even further. Consider installing wallpaper that accentuates the season and the vibe you’re after. Sprucing up your walls with wallpaper has never been easier, and there are choices galore for color, fabric, pattern, and design. You can even choose removable paper in case you want to swap it out later.
Remember that safety should always be your primary concern. An outdoor summer shindig can get a little wild when everyone’s having a good time. If you’re having a pool party, it’s probably a good idea to minimize or eliminate alcohol. And provide plenty of bottled water to keep your guests from dehydrating when the sun’s blazing.
A great summer party doesn’t have to be a high-priced affair. You can show everyone a great time by getting creative with the menu, decorations, and music. However, you do it, relax and have fun. It’s summer!