Ah, summer. Magical, schedule-less, endlessly sunny, basically feral summer. If you’re like us, you tend to view the warmer months as the calendar’s gift after weeks (and weeks and weeks) of plans, schedules and deep-down dirty work. And the best part of these fleeting weeks? Parties.
If the idea of throwing a party just gave you hives, take heart! Flawless summer entertaining is totally doable, even for the novice host. Here’s our top tips for keeping summer soirees simple, stylish and seasonally appropriate so you can make the most of family suppers, girlfriend brunches, all-out dinner parties and everything in between.
Go al fresco
If you’re not spending much time outdoors – even in the summer – well, you’re normal. In fact, according to Harvard, the average American will spend 90 percent of his or her life indoors. If that statistic makes you want to throw your windows open and invite a little fresh air in, we get you. Instead, throw your doors open and head outside to entertain some friends, family members or your significant other.
No outdoor dining set? No problem! A folding banquet table or picnic table will do just fine – just cover it with a pretty tablecloth. If that’s not an option, find a flat spot on the grass and create a pretty picnic with blankets and floor pillows. And if you’re feeling especially sassy, go DIY and recreate this perfectly boho pallet setup that would turn any backyard into an al fresco wonderland.
Create an ambiance
Perfectly manicured or not, your outdoor space can easily become the perfect party venue. Create that casual party atmosphere by looking to the light – outdoor lighting, that is. A string of bistro lights can instantly create a festive vibe, while a firepit or outdoor lanterns can really warm things up (literally and figuratively).
And since ambiance goes beyond lighting, you’ll want the perfect party playlist for your soiree. Check out HGTV’s ultimate summer dinner party playlist for some can’t-miss hits that will have your guests vibing (maybe even dancing?) all night long.
Make things comfortable
Don’t get us wrong; summer’s got countless upsides, but its heat, strong UV rays and pesky mosquitos are not among them. Be sure to make your guests comfortable by creating some cooler or shadier areas to lounge and chat. Light citronella candles to keep bugs away and offer your guests cold drinks, collapsible fans, sunscreen and anything else they might need to enjoy the outdoor time.
If it’s a particularly hot day, you might want to have some fans or misters on hand to keep your guests from sweating through their party clothes.
Go elegant with table settings
Whether you’re using an outdoor dining set, a card table or a blanket on the grass, you’ll elevate any dining experience with the right table settings. Use pretty outdoor dining sets or just borrow from your everyday indoor tableware to give your soiree an elegant feel.
Of course, we recommend accenting every place setting with a cloth napkin for a fun and unexpected pop of color. Our Sunny Stripes and Tropical Fruit patterns are perfectly playful for any summery occasion.
Keep the food cool and seasonal
While a hot grill tends to be the summer standard, don’t be afraid to think outside the barbecue. Whatever you’re serving, be sure to keep it fresh, summery and, if possible, cool or room temperature. Not only is this easier logistically (no keeping things warm in the kitchen), it’s also more appetizing on a warm summer evening.
If you need some inspiration, we love a caprese salad using fresh, summery tomatoes and cool, light mozzarella. A charcuterie spread is also a perfect make-ahead option that can feed a large group. Be sure to throw in some garden-fresh fruits or veggies to give it that summery feel. For an unexpected entree, head over to Food & Wine for 11 cold soups that are sure to please – and refresh – any crowd.
Remember, these warm summer days won’t last forever. Take full advantage of the year’s most carefree months with some summery soirees – and these tips for making them extra special.