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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Popular in Entertaining

Sentimental Reason Wedding Reception Menu

An elegantly casual buffet with easy-to-prepare food is perfect for a daytime outdoor wedding reception.

Dressing up ready-made items makes this reception's menu easy to make.

  • Stuffed Baby Vegetables
  • Herbed Egg Salad Roll-Ups
  • Fresh Fruit with Summer Dip
  • Country Ham Sandwiches
  • Tomato Mozzarella Skewers
  • Fruity Pasta Salad
  • Smoked Salmon Platter
  • Lemonade or Punch
  • Sentimental Reason Wedding Cake

Stuffed Baby Vegetables

Creamy cheese provides a pleasant contrast to the crunch of tender little vegetables. Because the vegetables are small, you'll want to pipe the cheese filling rather than spooning it into them.

View Stuffed Baby Vegetables recipe

Smoked Salmon Platter

Arrange salmon and the trimmings on your prettiest platter and invite guests to build their own canapes.

View Smoked Salmon Platter recipe

Country Ham Sandwiches

To slice focaccia horizontally, use a long, thin serrated knife. Set the bread on a cutting board. Hold your hand flat and gently pressing the top of the bread while carefully slicing the bread in half.

View Country Ham Sandwiches recipe

Tomato Mozzarella Skewers

Fresh mozzarella is usually shaped into balls and packaged in whey or water. Its soft texture and mild, sweet flavor make it an ideal cheese for marinating.

View Tomato Mozzarella Skewers recipe

Herbed Egg Salad Roll-Ups

To allow for easy rolling of the sandwiches, cut up the salad using a pastry blender.

View Herbed Egg Salad Roll-Ups recipe

Fruity Pasta Salad

Select white or clear poppy seed dressing to show off the fresh colors of the salad.

View Fruity Pasta Salad recipe

Fresh Fruit with Summer Dip

View Fresh Fruit with Summer Dip recipe

Sentimental Reason Wedding Cake

The bottom two layers serve 100 to 130 guests.

View Sentimental Reason Wedding Cake recipe

Planning Ahead

  • Get commitments for help making the food from family and friends.
  • Borrow or rent platters, bowls, and utensils as needed.
  • Serve from a variety of heights -- use cake stands, multitiered platters, and pretty bowls turned upside-down with snug-fitting platters on top.
  • Do as much prep ahead of time as possible.
  • Have plenty of refrigeration or coolers available at wedding site.
  • Use large bowls, for less refilling.

Food Safety

  • If food will be sitting on buffet for several hours, especially if weather is hot, prepare to keep food cold.
  • Set platters of sandwiches containing meats and cheeses directly on bed of ice.
  • If weather is very hot serve perishables in small bowls or platters and replenish often.


  • Assign several people the task of keeping buffet fresh.
  • If you don't want to burden friends or relatives, hire high school or college students.
  • Local restaurant staff may also be available to serve.

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