Hello, Summer!

Hello, Summer!

Grab your shades, your sunscreen and your pool floaties - summer is officially here.

Summer is such a fun time of year. The days are longer and I think people are a little bit more fun than in the winter - they want to go out and stay up late and get together with friends. It’s also peak outdoor party season, with July 4 in just a few weeks kicking us off.

Throwing the perfect outdoor party is a lot easier than you might think, and it’s a great way to get friends and family together for low key events throughout the summer.

First things first: let’s talk general party prep.

I touch on this a little bit in my Derby Day blog post (you can find that here) but here are a few refreshers for you:

  • When you’re picking a date, check out what else is going on in the area. Summer’s a busy time, so make sure you’re not competing with any summer festivals or activities that your guests might be going to.
  • Have a backup plan in case of rain. If your house is large enough, you could usher people in there or rent a tent.
  • Send out invitations about 4 weeks before your event, and plan your food about two weeks before. Prep any food you can early the week of your event and keep it cool or freeze it so you’re not scrambling.
  • Need some help doing a deep clean of your house? Look into having someone come by the week before - I’ve started doing this and it’s a life changer. Then the day of the event I just have to clean a few quick things.

When it comes to summer parties, though, there are a few other things you should keep in mind. For some quick and easy tips you should watch my quick segment on Charlotte Today but I break down some of the key points.

One thing you should consider is shade. You’ll need a place for your guests to escape to if it’s hot out, so I highly recommend tents if you don’t have a shady backyard or a covered porch. If you’re at a park, make sure you have a gazebo.

If you’re going to be outside, particularly if there will be kids at the party, there are a few items you should have out and about for the comfort of your guests. Having a little basket with sunscreen, bug spray and even wipes for sticky kid fingers is an extra little touch that will keep everyone comfortable. You can also get citronella candles that match your theme to keep pesky critters away.

Speaking of, picking a theme is an easy way for you to figure out some of the other details of your party, like the decor and the food, not to mention your guests will likely dress according to that theme. For example, pick a boho fiesta theme and have tacos, brightly colored decor and a cute pinata, and you’re set!

And don’t forget the fun things to do. Of course, people will spend time at parties talking and catching up, but it never hurts to have some backyard games to keep people entertained. Things like cornhole and Can Jam are popular favorites, but I love going to Rustic Events for some other items people might not expect, like giant Jenga sets.

For parties with kids, have some sidewalk chalk for them to use and some soccer balls for general fun around the yard. You can also incorporate water games into your party to help keep everyone cool, but be aware this may cause a muddy mess. Having a bucket of water balloons or squirt guns ready for the kids (or adults!) can be a fun way to take your party up a notch.

Finally, let’s talk food. If it’s a summer outdoor party, your guests are likely going to want light, cool things to eat in the heat. Try for light apps and fruity snacks that your guests can snack on throughout the day.

For inspo on food I always turn to Chrissie Beth, who runs the Off the Eaten Path blog here in Charlotte. For her summer pool parties she creates a snack board with a bunch of fruit, cheese, veggies and crackers.

Recently she used the Fluorescent Floral Party Perfected Box to create the snack tray you see below.

It’s got watermelon + goat cheese, pineapple + sharp white cheddar, tomatoes + mozzarella, cantaloupe + prosciutto, and then is rounded out with some pretzels and cucumbers. It’s bright, colorful, and not too heavy for a hot day.

Now you’re ready to throw a really fun outdoor party this summer for all your friends and family. If you use any of these tips, don’t forget to tag @jleighevents on Instagram so we can see how it all turned out!

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