16 Easy Summer Party Ideas

Gather inspiration for a casual outdoor gathering from one of our easy summer party ideas. From dinner on the deck to a festive taco buffet, your options are endless for a no-fuss summer party.

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11 Fun Ideas for Decorating a Cake with Candy

Make a birthday cake or other special day cake oh-so-adorable with candies! Cookbook author and stylist Libbie Summers shares 11 super-simple ways that cinnamon candies, jellybeans, maltballs, and other sweet favorites can make you look like a professional cake decorator in minutes.

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Coconut Cream Island Punch, The Cutest 5-Ingredient Cocktail Ever!

Make our DIY party cocktail -- that includes just a few tasty ingredients -- for an adults-only drink everyone can agree on. Cut-up star fruit provides a gorgeous base inside your drink pitcher.

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Sugar-Coated Ice Cream Social

I scream, you scream … You know the drill. Host a sugar-coated ice cream social the kiddos will love -- with cereal necklaces, paper crowns, candy truffles, and a whimsical ice cream truck. Go on and get celebrating!

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Pitcher Cocktail Recipes

Where there's a pitcher, there's a party. Whether you're brunching, dinner partying, or hosting a (very) happy hour, these fun pitcher cocktail recipes are sure to hit the spot. Find icy margaritas, fruity sangria cocktails, spiked punch, and more!

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Birthday Party Planning Timeline

Prepping for a birthday party? Don't panic. This schedule will help you get everything ready ahead of time, so you can enjoy the day of the birthday party with friends and family.

Six to Eight Weeks Before the Birthday Party:

  • Decide on the guest list.
  • If the party will be held outside your home, select and reserve the party venue.
  • Order birthday supplies and invitations. Choose a theme for decorations and supplies based on the birthday boy or girl's favorite character, color, or activity.
  • Book entertainment.

Two to Three Weeks Before the Birthday Party:

  • Send party invitations.
  • Put a list of invitees near the phone for RSVPs.
  • Select four to six activities and games for the birthday party. If your child is 6 or older, you'll probably want to decide this together.
  • Collect prizes and other items needed for party games.
  • If serving a meal, decide on the menu.
  • Order a cake (if you aren't baking one yourself).
  • Consider asking a favorite babysitter to help at the party.

Two to Three Days Ahead:

  • Call any guests who have not responded.
  • Shop for groceries or other food being served, candles for the cake, and any candy for favors or a pinata.
  • Copy, cut out, and assemble any party decorations that can be done ahead.
  • Put together party favor bags.
  • Check camera. Charge video camera. Get film.

One Day Before the Birthday Party:

Creative Birthday Cakes
  • Clean party area. Put away items that are dangerous or distracting.
  • Pick up cake or bake one of our creative birthday cakes.
  • If ordering takeout food such as pizza, call to arrange delivery.
  • Prep party appetizers and snacks.
  • If necessary, confirm entertainer or any helpers.
  • Sit with your child to discuss his or her expectations for the party. For younger children, practice opening gifts and saying, "Thank you."

Party Day: Four to Five Hours Before Guests Arrive

  • Set up party decorations. Put candles in cake and locate matches.
  • Get balloons filled or pick up helium latex and mylar balloons.
  • Tie some balloons to the mailbox or front porch to mark the location.
  • Finish party recipes that can be kept in the fridge, and prep those that need to be kept warm.
  • Place crafts and prizes near the activity locations.

One Hour Before the Birthday Party

  • Consider putting pets in an area away from the guests. This is for their sake as well as for guests who may be allergic or frightened.
  • Get birthday child and siblings dressed.
  • Set up food; let your child help as much as possible.
  • Set up first activity.
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