If there’s anything that we discovered during the pandemic it’s how much we treasure the people closest to us, and how hard it is to be apart from them. Being reunited this summer is a solid reason for celebration. It’s also the perfect excuse to invite them over for an outdoor summer party!
Longer days, warmer temperatures, and all that backyard and patio upgrading that we’ve been doing during the past year makes it perfect timing for an outdoor gathering.
It doesn’t need to be complicated or labour-intensive: Summer is all about carefree vibes. Any level of social gathering will quench our cravings to connect again, so an unfussy and laid-back approach is completely acceptable.
For those that want something more to mark a special occasion with family and friends, take a look at these fun, chic summer party ideas. Let’s get that party started!
Top Party Set-Up Tips
Here are some top tips from party planners to ease you back into hosting mode:
- It’s Not a Party Without… – Delicious nibbles (big or small), a fun cocktail, comfortable seating, good music, and evening mood lighting.
- Pick Pitchers or DIY Drinks – Pre-mix pitchers of punch or cocktails beforehand. Let guests help themselves, freeing up your time to visit. A thoughtful DIY drink bar with all the fixings also frees you and your co-host from making drinks all night. Set up a table including mixers, bitters, tonic, seltzer, ice, themed garnishes, bowl of citrus fruits, paring knife and cutting board.
- Set Up Spots – Create social spots for 2-6 guests for distinct activities like lounging, eating, gaming, chilling, etc. An area with outdoor sofas and low tables is perfect for sipping drinks and chatting.
- Be Cool, Then Warm – Put up a tent or umbrellas to give guests cooler spots out of the sun. If temperatures drop into an evening event, have a few blankets available in a basket; and propane heaters or fire pit ready to go.
- Colour Coordinate – Create a mood board with themed images that inspire you, and let that guide your colour palette. Make the dining spot the main attraction by setting a table with the colour palette, using foods, dishes, glassware, florals, and other decor.
- Think Bar, Not Buffet – Arrange a specialty bar or food station away from the main food table, for traffic flow and to offer something special. We love the idea of a prosecco bar with different juices, liqueurs, and garnishes.
- Be Mindful – Not everyone is ready to rub elbows and share communal food in a congested space, so ease any concerns by keeping the party area spacious (or the guest list smaller).
Bright, festive colours and a touch of tequila are surefire ingredients for a lively gathering. And maybe un poco de Mariachi music (but only if you invite your neighbours).
- Think: Colourful flowers, paper fans, or garlands; Papel Picado Flags; pop-poms, cacti, mini sombreros; striped Mexican blankets.
- On the menu: Taco bar, chip & dip bar, fajitas from the grill; desserts could include Tres Leches cake, churros, and wedding cookies.
- Drinks: Margaritas (so many flavour variations) and Mexican beers; non-alcoholic options include Jarritos soda pop bottles or aguas frescas.
- For fun: Who doesn’t love a pinata full of treats hung from the tree—or a tequila tasting?
We spotted many fun, easy DIY decor ideas for this theme, our favourite being colourful Mexican food cans filled with vibrant mini bouquets or potted cacti. Tissue paper can be used to create simple flowers or tassels.
There’s about 101 different margarita drink recipes to choose from online. Feel free to take tequila in another direction, like a Hibiscus and Tequila Spritz.
Whether it’s a retro luau or more of a Caribbean vibe, conjure up distant shores with plenty of juicy tropical fruits, playful cocktails, and a chill set-up.
- Think: Warm colours like gold, yellow, red, pink, and orange; tropical flowers and lush greenery like palm, banana leaf and monstera; pineapples in abundance; a surfboard, grass skirted bar, tiki torches; a little ukulele mixed in with beach party tunes.
- On the menu: Poke, mango or pineapple salsa; grilled prawns, pineapple & chicken kebabs, coconut rice, Kalua pork sliders; tropical fruit platters or fruit kebabs; pineapple upside down cupcakes, pineapple popsicles, or mango gelato.
- Drinks: Set up a cocktail bar with Pineapple Coconut Rum Punch or Mai Tais and have fun with the garnish, e.g. pineapple, flowers, umbrellas or all of the above! Plain or flavoured coconut water for a non-alcoholic option.
- For fun: Ask guests to dress in tropical attire; or hold a Hula lesson.
We’re big fans of this idea: Serve up drinks in tiki mugs or glasses (see below) that each guest takes home as a party favour.
Who wouldn’t want to get a drink at a backyard tiki bar?! P.S. They can be rented! Also spotted: retro rattan and tropical-styled bar carts (as seen below).
Coastal Casual Party
Have a group of good friends over for a relaxed dinner. Set the table, stream your favourite tunes, and settle in for the evening. No need to cook: grazing boards make this a low-stress affair.
- Think: Grazing and charcuterie boards surrounded by fresh-cut local flowers & greenery straight from the garden; flameless candles or hurricane lanterns, string lights.
- On the menu: Fresh local foods like seasonal produce, cheeses, dips & crostini alongside a few vegan options.
- Drinks: Champagne or Prosecco cocktail with fruit garnish; local wine & craft beer; flavoured soda water.
- For fun: Ask guests to clean up after themselves (kidding!)
While there’s no need for place settings or tablecloths with a casual dinner, we thought this uncomplicated setting below deserved sharing. This would work with almost any sprig from your garden.
Midsummer Garden Party
For an extra-special event, pull out all the stops with name cards, linens, layered place settings, and a catered meal. Pick a palette of colours, and pull your inside furniture out. On one end of the spectrum is an elegant, slightly more formal seated dinner party or luncheon; on the other end is the Boho picnic with a low long table and piles of pillows (above).
- Think: Midsummer Night’s Dream meets Secret Garden with a profusion of flowers, greenery; candles, string lights and/or twinkle lights; maybe a balloon garland.
- On the menu: fresh, local foods like produce, cheeses, vegan options, dips
- Drinks: Special cocktail with flower garnish and served in just the right glass—try Sparkling Rose & Lemon Gin or any of these low-sugar summer cocktails.
- For fun (and an extra-special touch): Send guests home with a small favour to suit the occasion.
We spotted this gorgeous Floral Sangria with floating blooms and floral ice cubes via the popular home and entertaining blog, Sugar and Charm. Another pretty yet simple idea is putting floral (or herbal) ice cubes in pitchers of water.
When we said ‘bring your indoor furniture outside’ we weren’t kidding around. Looks amazing, but definitely check the weather forecast first.
For more outdoor summer party inspiration, see our Pinterest page. Enjoy!
Feature image source: Camille Styles