Summer and fall party ideas to take your entertainment to the next level
Want to have parties that guests will remember forever, but don't have enough bright ideas to keep your events special? Local event professionals maintain a stable of great ideas for a party atmosphere, decor, drinks, food and music.
We talked to five of them, who were more than happy to share their tips for a great party.
Some of them may be well-suited to your needs as stated. Others may have to be tweaked a bit to meet your needs. Just about everybody is sure to find a few tips that had not occurred to them.
Take your pick.
Consider your guests
“Live music is one of my favorite things,” says Amie Waldeck of Elizabeth Grace Occasions. “I am not thinking of a full band, but when there are more than 15 people, have someone who sits and plays a guitar or steel drum in the background. Definitely, have something plugged in if you can't do that.”
Pick a theme and stick with it throughout, Waldeck adds. If it's a Mexican theme, choose Mexican beer and margaritas for drinks. Continue the theme with sombreros as table centerpieces. And everyone finds taking their turn at a pinata fun.
When it's a family cookout, give some thought as to how the children will be entertained, Waldeck says. Don't have a family affair without Frisbees, balls and many other options for their entertainment.
“Create that old-school Lowcountry atmosphere,” says Candice Hilse of Yoj Events, who recommends a classic garden party. “Lawn games like croquet, which is colorful and everybody can be part of it, are great. Always have lots of giant beach balls because they can't break anything and the kids will play with them all day.”
Hilse also favors preparing a traditional picnic table dressed in blue, red and yellow or some other combination of primary colors. She also likes using mismatched dishware.
“Every party needs a great drink,” Hilse says. “I like to use seasonal fruit like watermelon to make a watermelon martini.”
Inexpensive coiled hoses found at big-box and hardware stores can be installed on the roof of a porch to spray a fine mist and keep things cool and comfortable for guests.
Stay on task
Follow a step-by-step regimen for great parties and create to-do and shopping lists for staying on task and on budget, says Jacqueline Lawrence of inventiveENVIRONMENTS.
Come up with a theme, a color scheme or a style, such as rustic, says Lawrence. Then, look around your home and pull together anything and everything that might help to carry out your theme. Repurpose items found indoors and outdoors. Mix in white serving pieces and containers.
Next, map your space to determine what will go where. Fill in the blanks and edit out any extras. Go for a clean, simple design because it's more pleasing to the eye. Guests will find what they need and want easier when the entertainment area is clean and simple.
“The trend we have seen are natural and rustic elements such as burlap, farm tables, X-back chairs and Mason jars,” says Sara Shavelson of Eventworks. Whether you choose a caterer or prepare the food yourself, display the food and beverages in an interesting way, she says.
Ways to make the display interesting include using square or rectangular china, vintage luncheon plates, cobalt blue glasses and glass beverage dispensers, she says. Set the mood with music and cafe or bistro lighting. A tent and long tables for family-style dining go a long way toward making the event more intimate.
Spend time and give attention to the lighting, says Isabelle Donovan of Duvall Events.
“Candlelight is the simplest way to create beautiful ambience and immediately change the mood of a space,” she says. “Concentrate on one or two rooms of your home (depending on the size of the party) and cut off any overhead lights.”
Donovan suggests relying on table lamps and candles for lighting.
She says mixing vessel sizes from votives to large pillar candles and lanterns will create interesting lighting vignettes.
“Your friends will feel like your home has been transformed for an intimate affair to remember,” she says.