It’s summer, which means you want to spend as much time outside as possible. The only thing that makes these moments even better is sharing them with your friends and family. So, you should probably throw an outdoor summer party while the weather’s good. Need help choosing the food, location, and festivities for your soiree? Here are our best tips.
Our outdoor summer party checklist:
Food and Drinks
If you’re throwing a party, food and beverages should be one of the first considerations. Will you serve a full meal? Heavy appetizers? Or will you just have a bar full of tasty drinks for all the grown-ups in attendance?
Most summer parties rely on the grill for their food, and you can do the same with your gathering. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to default to hamburgers and hot dogs as the main course for your guests. Think outside the barbecue box — for instance, you can fire up a flank steak seasoned to perfection with rosemary, red wine vinegar and garlic. As that cooks, you can grill some veggies as a side dish. Similarly, you can use the grill and a handful of skewers to cook everyone’s dinner, too — this Greek chicken recipe is just one example.
Some pioneering grillers have used the appliance to make dessert, too, a feat which is sure to impress your party’s attendees. Once again, you’ll need some skewers to complete this recipe. After baking or buying a pound cake, you’ll cut it into squares and thread them onto the skewer, alternating with pieces of fruit. Then, fire up the grill and turn your sweet skewers for six to eight minutes, or until the cake feels toasted and the fruit’s soft.
Finally, you should think about making drinks for your party guests, too. For a larger party, big-batch cocktails do the trick, so you can prep a bunch beforehand instead of playing bartender all night long. You have plenty of options here — a muddled, vodka-infused lemonade or a classic summer shandy will always do the trick.
When you think barbecue, you probably think backyard, which is the perfect option if you have the setup to comfortably welcome guests. You can cook on the deck while everyone mingles around you and perhaps in the grass. You just have to make sure you have enough seats for everyone, and that there’s ample shade — not everyone wants to bask in the heat of the summer sun, you know.
Of course, not every home has these assets — some of us don’t even have backyards. So, get creative with your party if you’re short on room. You can always bring the party indoors, but you can also rent a local space that’ll give you the outdoor access you crave. Plenty of parks have covered pavilions you can rent, complete with bathrooms and grills. To that end, find out if you can pitch a tent and throw a party on a rented green space. Just make sure you choose a tent or canopy with the right proportions for your party size — you don’t want anyone left out of the shade.
Finally, don’t forget the pool. If you belong to one, you can probably reserve a few tables for an afternoon or evening, and you can throw your outdoor summer party there. It’ll be outdoors, and you’ll get to enjoy one of the season’s most iconic activities.
Finally, you’ll want to keep your party guests entertained, and there are countless ways to do so. Depending on the type of party you’re throwing — family get-together or grown-up gathering — you’ll probably want to come up with a unique plan of action.
For kids, you should have some activities at the ready. If you have a pool, inflate a few floats and glide them into the water — kids will keep themselves busy with those for hours. You might also schedule a few outdoor games for the little ones to play. Again, you can probably think of a slew of ideas for this part of the evening, as you’ve certainly taken part in these activities during your lifetime. Everything from a water balloon toss to musical chairs to egg-carrying relay races will work here.
Grown-ups don’t need as much scheduled entertainment, although you can come up with a few activities they’ll like. You could set up a badminton or volleyball net in the backyard. Make it into a tournament competition and hand over a prize to the winners if you want to up the ante. Drinking games are always a fun choice, too, depending on how casual your gathering will be. If you’d rather not schedule a full slate of events, make sure you have a peppy playlist and plenty of spots where people can sit and chat.
It’s a Party
Once you pinpoint the location of your party, plan the menu and decide on the entertainment for the day, you’re ready to throw the perfect outdoor summer party. Whether it’s a barbecue or fancy dinner, family activity day or pool party, one thing’s for sure — it’s bound to be fun, thanks to all the time and thought you’ve already put into it.