For Your Next Get-Together

Whether you want to celebrate the season or just want an excuse to fire up the grill with some friends, a summer party is the way to go. But to truly have a blast, it’s best to put some thought in ahead of time. 

You’ll want to prepare food for hungry guests and provide activities to keep them entertained. And, if you really like party planning or want to create a day to remember, you’ll want to introduce a theme. 

It’s a lot to account for, but it’s not hard to do. We’ve gathered a collection of summer party ideas for all of the above, so you can focus on living it up. 

Why We Throw Parties in the Summer

With summer finally comes a chance to enjoy the warm sun and beautiful weather. Longer days and Vitamin-D-filled sunshine boosts our mood and encourages us to gather outdoors. And the truth is, it’s been this way for centuries. 

Summer Celebrations Are Tradition

The Summer Solstice, usually on June 21st, is the longest day of the year, and this day, along with the summer season, has been a time for celebration around the world since ancient times. We have proof of ancient cultures as far back as ancient Greece and Rome celebrating the season, and experts believe the tradition stems even further back.

The reasons for celebration shifted from culture to culture, but for many, it was a time to celebrate the harvest, and communities gathered for festivals, feasts, and games. 

And to this day, even if we don’t celebrate the same harvest, people worldwide continue to gather with friends and family to enjoy food, drinks, games, and bonfires.

The Perfect Opportunity to Spend Time With Loved Ones

In adult life, we often get too busy to see friends and family or forget to make time for them outside the big winter holidays. The great thing about a summer party is that it creates an opportunity to spend time together in the middle of the year, and you can find a day convenient for everyone. 

There’s not much leeway for when you can celebrate holidays, but a summer party allows you to find a day when everyone can make it. 

Furthermore, kids are out of school. This means parents don’t have to enforce homework or a strict bedtime schedule, making it easier for everyone to come out for a good time.

Throwing Your Party: 9 Summer Themes and Decor Ideas

If you’re the kind of person who goes all the way, a theme is the perfect way to tie your party together and level it up a notch. Of course, a summer-appropriate theme is the way to go: 

  1. Beachy. A beach theme is the most classic and straightforward summer theme to achieve.  Make things simple by decorating with seashells, rustic beach signs, and sea-inspired food and drink. If you don’t have an in-ground pool, consider creating a DIY sandpit and getting a blow-up pool. Of course, you can also just host your party at the beach!
  1. Nautical. If you want something along the same lines but a bit more unique, a nautical theme is another fun option. Decorate with depictions of underwater sea life and paper boats.
  1. Butterflies. Butterflies are a pretty staple of summer, and it’s easy to decorate with them in mind. Make or buy some butterfly wings and set up a photo booth for some silly fun.
  1. Picnic. There’s something simple but classic about laying blankets on the lawn, catching some rays, and enjoying snacks and finger foods. You can also go more elegant with fancy charcuterie boards. Just make sure to provide sunscreen or plenty of shade.
  1. Carnival. Who doesn’t love carnivals? Create a carnival-themed party with carnival-appropriate food, like popcorn and hotdogs, and set up some carnival-style games. You can even buy carnival style-tickets and set up a prize table. (This works for kids and adults, though adult prizes can be more pricey.)
  1. 4th of July BBQ. Since this holiday is right in the middle of summer, why not host a 4th of July party? Or, if you need more freedom with the party date, everyone loves a good ol’ barbeque regardless of when you host it. 
  1. Luau. Everyone loves a luau party. A luau is rooted in Hawaiian culture and involves creating an island-centric atmosphere. All you need is some tropical flowers, tiki torches, hula skirts, and drinks served in pineapples or coconuts.
  1. Garden party. Looking to host an adult-focused party? A garden party is the perfect way to enjoy the summer in sophistication. Decorate with flowers, delectable and charming bites, and consider a wine tasting.
  1. Camping. If you have a safe fire pit in your backyard or are interested in having one, this could be the party for you. With a camping party, enjoy sharing laughs and tales around the fire (and smores, of course)—all without having to end the night in a sleeping bag.

The Feast: 10 Summertime Food Ideas

Good hosts provide food for their guests. Even if your guests bring something to contribute or you’re having a potluck, it’s wise to have a selection available and ensure you cater to different dietary needs.

Fortunately, unless you’re specifically hosting a fancy dinner party, it’s acceptable to come up with something easy, from finger foods to store-bought snacks. 

  1. Pizza. Pizza is a party classic because it’s pretty inexpensive and easy to carry around. Making homemade pizza is also simple if you’re set on going the homemade route. Just make sure that none of your guests are vegan or have a lactose allergy. If so, you can provide a vegan cheese option to account for both. 
  1. Chips and dip. Everyone loves a good dip, and it’s easy to provide several so that there’s something for everyone. Consider a Mexican layered dip with black beans and queso or classics like spinach and artichoke. Ensure you offer a gluten-free chips option if you have gluten-intolerant guests.
  1. Sliders. You can never go wrong with sliders—except that you might eat too many. You can also provide black bean patties as a vegan option.
  1. Finger sandwiches. Finger sandwiches are a fan favorite, easy to make, and you can provide several different kinds.
  1. Cucumber salad. If your party is outdoors, some guests may crave something more refreshing. Include a cucumber salad to help them cool right down.
  1. A cheese board. Is there anything better than a board with cheeses, meats, crackers, or olives? Have fun curating your own, or pick one up from the grocery store.
  1. Gourmet popcorn. For a more unique option, consider variety popcorn. Garlic and parmesan is a huge hit, or try caramel for something sweeter.
  1. Mac and cheese. Mac and cheese is a classic dish that everyone loves—even the kids. Or, if your party is adults-only, you can try a more mature version with spice and veggies. 
  1. Cupcakes. Cupcakes are always cute and easy to decorate to your theme. Ask for custom icing decor in advance at a bakery, or get adventurous by making your own. 
  1. Ice cream and popsicles. Cold treats like ice cream and popsicles make the perfect cool down for outdoor parties and are well-loved by adults and children alike.

Entertaining Your Guests: 9 Fun Summer Party Activities

Whether you’ve got a kid-friendly or adults-only party, there are plenty of games you can play and activities you can provide to make the day fun for everyone.

  1. A paddling pool. You don’t need a big in-ground pool for people to cool off in. Consider investing in an inflatable pool, whether for kids or adults.  Make sure any children using a pool are supervised at all times!
  1. Lawn Twister. As the evening begins to cool down, lawn twister is a hilarious game for participants and onlookers alike.
  1. Piñata. A pinata is another activity that is typically for children but surprisingly entertaining for adults as well.
  1. Scavenger hunt. If you have little ones to keep entertained, they might love a scavenger hunt. Or, if you have some competitive friends, you can pit them against each other in a scavenger contest.
  1. Photo booth. A summer-themed photo booth is a fun idea that people of all ages enjoy. 
  1. Hula hoop competition. See who can spin the longest! Let the kids entertain themselves with some hula hoops, or see if your older friends still have their moves. 
  1. Mini-golf. Setting up a mini-golf course in the backyard is an excellent move if you’re really looking to go all out and make this a party to remember.
  1. Frozen t-shirt race. If you know you’ll need to cool down, freeze a few t-shirts a couple of days before the party. Then, play a game of who can defrost theirs the fastest. Whoever gets the t-shirt on their body first wins!
  1. Two truths and a lie. Play two truths and a lie for a fun game that doesn’t require any equipment. It’s a simple concept: claim three things about yourself, and the others have to guess the lie.

Other Summer Party Considerations

Once you’ve picked some fun summer party ideas from the lists above, there are still a couple of considerations left. 

First off: refreshments. Make sure there’s plenty of water available, but you’ll also want to provide a variety of drinks to suit everyone’s tastes.

Secondly: music. Consider your theme if you have one, and put together a playlist that will last a few hours at least. 

Overall, you should consider your own tastes before you design and host your summer party. If it’s something you’ll enjoy, you’ll have all the more fun preparing. Can’t decide between themes? The good news is that summer is a couple of months long, and no one said you couldn’t have more than one party.