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Summer Parties: Your Must-Haves

August is quickly approaching, but there’s still time to host a few outdoor parties with family and friends before the kids head back to school — or one big party to really make it memorable. To achieve a successful summer party, there are a number of elements to think about that will really add to the experience. Check the box on them all and your guests will be talking about it long after they leave.

The Layout
Buffet style usually works best, so place your food on long tables so people can access it easily and graze throughout the party. If you plan on having lots of guests, you can have separate tables that are spread apart to keep people from feeling crowded. When it comes to serving food, don’t feel the pressure to put it all out at once. Swap out food as it’s running low, and for cold salads and frozen desserts that won’t stand the heat as well as other foods, try this handy technique: Wrap ice packs or blocks of ice in attractive fabric and set your dish on top. 

The Décor
Go for decorations that are both practical and beautiful. For example, use a colorful beach towel in place of a tablecloth for an easy-to-wash fabric that works on both picnic and folding tables. Use tall glasses or pitchers to hold flowers for some natural beauty, and make it easy on yourself by using plastic flatware. Do the same for your guests by tying that flatware together with a napkin and string so they don’t have to juggle that AND their plate. And if you want to avoid wine glasses, regular drinking glasses will fit right in for a casual party. Swizzle sticks or decorative straws are also a fun addition while helping guests remember which drink is whose. 

The Atmosphere
Bring in other visual elements to create a warm and relaxing atmosphere, such as stringed lights, lanterns, candles, cozy seating and tiki torches. A bonfire is always a good add, especially when the sun goes down, and yard games like bags or ladder toss are great for those who enjoy a little competition. Have fun with this because the more creative you get, the better! 

The Music
Put together a playlist you love, whether it’s the classics, the latest top hits or a combination of the two. A Bluetooth speaker should work if you’re in a fairly small space, but you can use larger speakers instead if you have access to them. Background music can really enhance a party, especially when a favorite tune comes on. 

The Eats
Incorporate everyone’s summer food favorites, like burgers, brats and corn fresh from the grill, plus baked beans, potato salad and fruits like watermelon and strawberries. Give people several beer and wine options, along with fun soda options for younger guests, and provide water to keep everyone hydrated. Of course, you can’t have an outdoor party without s’mores! For a new take on a classic, try this recipe and see if your guests can eat just one! 

There you have it: your summer party must-haves. In case the bugs come out, keep your Bug Protector within reach, but most importantly, have fun!

Inspiration:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/grilling/summer-parties