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10 Tips for the Perfect Summer Soirée


It’s time to fire up the barbecue grill, break out the bug spray and perfect your margarita recipe once and for all…that’s right, ‘tis the season for summer celebrations! Camille Styles here, and as the founder of party and entertaining site, I’ve been gearing up for outdoor soirées for quite a while now…and must admit that this season is my very favorite for entertaining. The laid-back vibe and unhurried pace is so conducive to stress-free hosting, encouraging guests to kick back, relax and stay awhile. Of course, there are a few challenges that can stump even the most seasoned hosts (heat and pesky bugs, to name a few), so I’ve put together a roundup of my ten tips that will let you enjoy the party with your guests, without breaking (too much of) a sweat!

  1. Keep chilled beverages within easy reach by corralling them in a metal tub (like this one from Pottery Barn.) Place the drinks in the tub, then alternate layers of ice and kosher salt to the top. Finish by filling the bucket with cold water to help beverages reach cold temperatures in the fastest time possible.
  2. Stick to simple centerpieces. Summer parties call for simple decor and flowers that won’t wilt in the heat. There’s nothing prettier (or easier) than a bright bunch of hearty sunflowers, cut short and gathered into a drinking glass.
  3. Make it a family affair. Since kids are out of school and summer is about spending time with family, invite friends to bring their kids to join in on the fun. Having a few simple games and sports equipment on hand will keep them fully occupied while the adults catch up over cocktails. Beach balls, sidewalk chalk and even a piñata provide hours of entertainment.
  4. Fire up the grill. There are many reasons why I love to grill foods for parties: it’s delicious, easy to cook large portions at once and (best of all) requires almost no clean-up. Try grilling food on rosemary stalks to infuse chicken, beef, pork and fish with a delicious, herbal flavor. Soak the rosemary for an hour to prevent it from burning, then thread meat onto the natural skewer.
  5. Stock the necessities. Providing your guests with proper protection from mosquitos and sunburn is crucial. Fill metal sand pails with sunscreen and bug spray, and distribute throughout the party space so they can be easily accessed when needed.
  6. Hydrate, deliciously. I love to mix up a huge batch of lemonade and serve in an oversized glass dispenser. Garnish with raspberries and mint for a pretty presentation and refreshing flavor.
  7. Hang colorful paper garlands from the porch and entryway. Make your own with this simple DIY and string up for a quick way to make any space party-ready.
  8. And don’t forget the signature cocktail! There are tons of great options for festive, summer party drinks. My favorites are margaritas (get my favorite recipe here!), mojitos and pitchers of sangria. Choose one and make it the signature drink for the evening. I usually designate one style of glasses for the cocktail and a different style of glasses for the nonalcoholic drinks to prevent mixups with underage guests.
  9. Light up the night with tons of votive candles. The key here is to use LOTS of them, like I did for my husband’s birthday party last summer. It’s an affordable trick that provides major bang for your buck; place in small glass hurricanes or mason jars so the wind doesn’t blow them out.
  10. Take a cue from the farmers’ market. When planning my summer menu, I always look for what’s abundant, fresh and seasonal. Not only are these items usually more affordable, but at the peak of their growing season, they’re always more delicious, too! Fresh salads, chilled fruit and veggies on the grill are all perfect party foods that aren’t too heavy for hot days and nights.

*image sources: {row one} BHG, “Simple Flower Tabletop Display,” Heath Ceramics, GardenrichWest Elm {row 2} Uncommon GoodsAmazon, BHG, “Party Lights” {row 3} BHG, “Grilled Fruit and Other Alfresco Ideas“ Toy SplashWorld Market {row 4} Party Cheap, BHG, “Madeline’s Lemonade,” Terrain.

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