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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Wedding Mementos and Favors

Give your guests creative wedding keepsakes that double as edible treats or dazzling decorations. Easily assembled from purchased supplies, they convey an elegant, personal touch that guests will appreciate and long remember.


    Everything in this slideshow

    • Icing Initials

      Iced with the bride's and groom's initials, these colorful confections appeal to the eye, appetite, and spirit. Based on the concept of friendship necklaces, two heart halves are cut from one cookie cutter. To master the piped-on initials, first trace computer fonts on printed paper and practice before lettering the cookies.

    • A Candy Bar

      For an extra sweet favor, treat your guests to a slew of candy on their way out. To make your own candy bar, simply choose candies in your theme. Look online for special colored candies. Then place them in large vases and hurricanes. Remember to go all out with the candy -- you don't want to have a wimpy-looking candy bar!

    • Boxed: Tea & Cookies

      Small bakery boxes deliver a romantic treat: cookies and infused tea. Each holder is glued onto a scalloped oval card with a pink sugar rose. The tea box holds enough for one or two.

    • Color & Texture

      Consider color and texture as you design table settings and favors for your wedding. Here, a formal wedding in blue features silk wine bags tied with satin ribbons (see close-up next slide). For a more casual wedding you might go with a gingham bag and grosgrain ribbon in colors to match your scheme.

    • Personalized Wrap

      A wine caddy can be dressed up or down depending on your painted design. Your sophisticated silk rendition can include hot-glued or sewn seams, pinking-sheared edges, and stamped initials and crest. Acrylic paint is brushed onto a rubber stamp, then gently applied to the fabric. A silk-ribbon tie and coordinating flower hug any bottle with warmth and affection.

      Tip: Look for wine labels that have special meaning. Custom designed labels are available through novelty suppliers.

    • A Special Spark

      Light up your wedding table with a votive candle creation. Place a votive candle atop a sprinkling of colorful beads, candies, sand, or miniature shells to create a warm, romantic glow.

    • Friendship Favor Boxes

      Let guests take a bit of the party home! Wrap up something sweet -- such as a truffle or a trinket -- inside pretty party favor boxes.

    • Homemade Gift Pedestal

      The gift stand is made from a pair of Styrofoam bases topped with Styrofoam rounds (available through craft or bakery supply stores). Sequin pins are the no-glue secret to attaching decorative paper to both round forms. Ribbon, accented with double-knotted bows, was hot-glued to the edge of the rounds but could also be attached with corsage pins.

    • Tiny Boxes

      These small cardboard boxes (1 1/2 to 3 inches square) are blissful not only for the joy they deliver but also for how easy they are to embellish. Filled with a single sinful truffle, colorful confetti, or relaxing bath salts, they're wonderfully versatile for wedding wishes. Wrap them in different decorative papers, tie with ribbons, add strawflowers and stickers, and then stack for a series of happy surprises.

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      Lovely Votive Sleeves

      Download our Votive Sleeve Pattern to make these striking decorations for your reception table.

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      Beaded Heart Box

      Visit a crafts store for a heart-shape cardboard box to decorate with pink crafts paint and glued-on seed beads.

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      Paper Butterflies

      Precious paper butterflies that were scored, folded, and glued to a corsage pin (with a pearl head), flutter around realistic pear candles. For stability, encase the pin between two paper butterflies. Beads of glitter glue around the edges add sparkle. Purchase custom-printed ribbons or try hand-stamping your message onto the ribbon.

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      To complement the candles, store-bought matchboxes (that can be used to light the candles) were covered with decorative paper and stickers that say "One of a Kind."

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      Heart Candle Embellishment

      Make this candle decoration from scrapbook papers, craft wire, and beads.

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      Romantic Table with Heart-Shape Favor

      Mix and match china patterns combine into a romantic look for an at-home shower or wedding reception. On the plate, a heart-shape plastic container holds one perfect truffle nestled in pink package shred.

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      Centerpiece Favor Tree

      Sweet paper hearts, ornaments, cookies, and miniature gift boxes decorate this wire tree. This idea could make a pretty centerpiece for an informal wedding, with favors like cookies or sheer bags of candy clipped to the tree with wire, curtain clips, or ribbon ties.

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      Centerpiece and Favors

      Look for interesting candleholders that can make unusual centerpieces. This painted candleholder of twigs has a distressed look to harmonize with a nature-themed spring wedding.

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      Edible Treats

      Almost everything is edible in this favor. Twig bird nests feature a pair of delicate doves made of hollow white chocolate. They're sitting on a brood of blue Jordan almond eggs and are finished with fanciful edible flowers.

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      Cookie Shapes

      Iced cookies in the shapes of starfish, dragonflies, sea horses, and flowers can be made for the children who attend the wedding. Wrap in cellophane and tie with a ribbon for an added touch.

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      Cookie Display

      Set individual cellophane-wrapped cookies at each place setting, or display all of the bags together in a basket for guests to pick up as they exit the reception. Attach a card thanking each guest for sharing your special day.

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