16 Easy Summer Party Ideas

Garden Party Table Setting
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.

Tropical Getaway at Home

Invite List: 6-8

Guest Type: Your best girlfriends

It's easier than you think to escape to a tropics-inspired party in the comfort of your own backyard. Set up a low table and seat guests on colorful floor cushions. Serve easy-prep appetizers, such as heirloom tomato salad or veggies with dip, and ice-cold drinks. Set a palm frond in a decorative vase to match the party theme, and light up the table with candles so the party continues long after the sun sets.

Painting Party

Invite List: 5-7

Guest Type: Your creative crew

Party colorfully with an afternoon of painting, snacks, and cocktails. Grab your girls for some artsy fun, along with inexpensive watercolors, brushes, water-filled jars, and paper. Scan your house for a beginner-friendly still-life setup -- start with a bowl of fruit or blooming flowers. A canvas drop cloth dabbed in acrylic paint makes a cute table runner, while cocktails and skewered nibbles keep the creativity flowing.


Invite List: 8-10

Guest Type: Friends with kids

Who says you need woods to camp? Individual s'mores kits, a ground-level table, campfire tunes, and picnic-friendly blankets round out this backyard campout. Have guests swap ghost stories around the campsite, or spark up a lively bonfire right in your yard. Throw a few hobo packs on the grill to make it a casual dinner party.

Travel-Theme Party

Invite List: 10-12

Guest Type: Everyone

Whether you're gushing over a recent trip to Paris or fantasizing about a far-off visit to Bali, a travel party is the perfect way to get away at home. Keep things authentic by serving fare signature to your destination of choice, such as macarons and berry-studded Rose for France. Showcase trip highlights or bucket-list locales in basic, inexpensive picture frames. Journals, photo albums, and favorite finds are also perfect for sharing.

Chill Cocktail Hour

Invite List: 5-7

Guest Type: Workout buddies

Escape summer's sweltering heat with a super laid-back happy hour that's sure to recharge. Hanging globe lights and airy branches showcased in on-hand vases help bring the patio inside. Stick to a cooled-off menu with items like fresh veggies, purchased breadsticks, and plenty of spiked sips on ice. Keep an extra pitcher of water on hand -- we like ours filled with lemon, cucumber, and mint!

Bright Flower Party

Invite List: 4

Guest Type: Your flower-loving friends

Bright and colorful, this cheery summer party celebrates the beauty of flowers. Set the table with in-season blooms, candles, and umbrella-topped drinks for a sunny escape. Show guests to their seats with personalized flowered place holders and patterned napkins.

Soup and Salad Dinner Party

Invite List: 4-6

Guest Type: Your closest coworkers

This party idea is so cute and simple, you'll wish you thought of it sooner. A warmed-up color palette and a few vintage touches -- labeled Mason jars, a stamped kraft paper runner, and golden-hue flowers -- elevate the soup-er easy combo to chic party status. Keep things simple by serving individual salads in glass tumblers.

Seaside Escape

Invite List: 12-14

Guest Type: Visiting family and friends

East Coast, West Coast, or no coast -- anyone can enjoy a sea-inspired shindig with our tasty menu and a few tropical touches. Fanned-out leaf fronds make a clever table runner, while vibrant flowers add a sunny splash of color. Complete the beachy vibe by serving food in shell-shape dishes, sticking to hues in corals, oranges, and blues. Fruit-infused sangria finishes the spread on a sweet note.

Dessert and Coffee

Invite List: 4-5

Guest Type: Book club members

Want to host a simple summer soiree? Head down the dessert and coffee route. Just pull up a coffee table to a comfy outdoor seating area and set up a spread of light desserts, fruit, and iced coffee. This summer party idea is perfect for book club or having the neighbors over -- if you want minimal setup effort, ask guests to bring their favorite dessert to share.

Backyard Buffet

Invite List: 10-12

Guest Type: Friends and family

Elegant and easy, this berry-inspired bash is the perfect way to welcome summer. Start by sending watercolor invites and dyeing an old table cloth in faint flowery hues. Peonies, candles, and baskets of berries decorate the table the day of. A do-ahead menu featuring farm-fresh foods and sweets -- along with a self-serve bar -- leaves you free to nibble and mingle. Send guests off with Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Cookies tied in splatter-dyed muslin bags.

Here are three easy tips for making any outdoor summer party a special occasion.

3 Party Tips You Need to Know

Here are three easy tips for making your berry-inspired backyard buffet the party of the summer.

Dinner in the Garden

Invite List: 6-8

Guest Type: Your coupled friends

Make the most of a gorgeous summer evening by taking a casual dinner party outside. Create an intimate space in the corner of your yard with a patio table, and dress up plastic chairs with small pillows for added comfort. Keep the area lit with string lanterns (bonus: these can stay out all season long!), and set the table with single-stem flowers in tinted glass vases.

Grown-Up Ice Cream Social

Invite List: 10-12

Guest Type: Your sweetest neighbors

Good news: Ice cream socials aren't just for kids! Put a grown-up spin on a summertime classic with a make-your-own pie a la mode bar, complete with piecrust cookies and homemade fruit sauces. Add a few cooling cocktails -- maybe even a bottle of bubbly -- and you have a casual summer gathering that will last well into the evening.

Mexican Taco Buffet

Invite List: 10-12

Guest Type: Your foodie friends

Turn a low-key summer evening with friends into a fun Mexican fiesta with a build-your-own taco buffet and a few colorful decorations. Serve the tacos with a variety of condiments, such as sour cream, lime, cilantro, and other fresh veggies, so guests can create their own. Keep the stress of entertaining down by making the food ahead of time, and match your decor to the fiesta with brightly colored ceramic serving dishes.

Budget-Friendly Cocktail Hour

Invite List: 4-5

Guest Type: Your closest friends

On a budget? Not a problem. Stay cost-savvy with your entertaining by using fresh ingredients and easy decor to host a simple summer party on the cheap. First, print our free invitation (available below) and send out to a few close friends. Let your cocktail nibbles (we used edamame and oranges) be the star of the table in place of a pricey centerpiece, and mask an inexpensive wine with your own label.

Dinner on the Deck

Invite List: 4-6

Guest Type: Friendly neighbors

Take a sophisticated party idea and make it casual for summer with this setup. Use planted succulents to dress up the outdoor table, and opt for real dishes and cloth napkins instead of disposable for a sophisticated touch. Serve simple appetizers such as cheese and crackers with various meats and seasonal vegetables, and try a slow cooker recipe for the main course so you don't have to heat up the oven. A drink dispenser allows guests to help themselves.

Appetizers and Frozen Cocktails

Invite List: 5-7

Guest Type: Your craftiest girlfriends

Put a grown-up twist on classic freezer pops by turning them into frozen cocktails. Serve-yourself snack mix and make-ahead drinks keep you free to mingle the entire time (no getting up to mix drinks or serve food every few minutes!). Dress up the no-fuss gathering with pretty paper medallions -- you can make large versions for hanging and smaller versions for fanning with our how-to below.

Easy Garden-Theme Party

Invite List: 6-8

Guest Type: Book club members

You don't need a garden to host this fabulous party indoors or out. Simple terrariums made from ferns and glass cloches star as the table's centerpiece, accented by roses floating in stemless wineglasses. Each place setting comes with its own bit of greenery and an uplifting quote to keep the party in good spirits. Serve whatever you'd like at this easy-to-throw party, but we recommend dishes with farmer's market-fresh ingredients.

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