How to Plan the Perfect Summer Party
Summertime is the perfect time for entertaining. It is usually warm enough to be able to hold your party outdoors, barring inclement weather. Moreover, even if there is a rainstorm, outdoor event tents will generally keep the raindrops away from your guests. But where do you begin to plan with so much to do? Following some simple steps will break down the process so that you should be able to breathe a sigh of relief as you complete each step and your perfectly planned event comes to fruition.
Get a Planning Notebook
Whether you want to jot your ideas down on your laptop or put them to trusty old pen and paper, decide which method you are going to use and stick to it. At first, you may start well in advance of the planned event by jotting down ideas about theme, types of food, items for decoration and possible goody bags.
Once you have begun to jot down your ideas, you can then organize them into steps and check off each step as you purchase or rent the items. Set a timetable for yourself. Decide when you are going to purchase, borrow, or rent the necessary items so that you have them in plenty of time to set up and decorate.
Decide on the Location of the Event
If planning an outdoor party at your home, you know that you will take the risk that there might be inclement weather. If you have a covered deck or porch that will accommodate your guests, perfect! But if you do not, and there isn’t sufficient space indoors to accommodate all of your guests, you may consider renting a tent. Many areas offer tent rental companies that can even provide heaters if you are planning on entertaining in weather that is slightly cooler but may be comfortable enough if you add heating units to outdoor tents.
Make sure that you have sufficient seating and tables. Whether your party or event is indoors or outdoors, you will need to ensure that you have not only enough seating but enough tables or trays. If you are serving more finger foods, it may be fine for guests to balance their plates on their laps. But it is often uncomfortable to try to eat foods that you may need to cut if you are balancing a plate on your lap.
If you need to purchase additional chairs, you may consider looking at sales or discount stores. Purchasing additional seating may be the best bet if you plan on entertaining similar numbers of people again. But if you don’t see much entertaining in your future, you can also rent or borrow chairs and/or tables.
As an alternative to seating, you might consider stacking hay bales. You could stack them in such a way as to have more bales stacked in the rear to form the back of a “couch” and less bales stacked in the front to form the seat. You could even add decorative brightly colored cushions to the hay bales to make more comfortable seating.
The very first step in the invitation process is deciding who you are going to invite. If this is a work-related party, plan carefully so that you don’t inadvertently exclude someone. Accidentally omitting inviting someone you work with to a party you are hosting could have detrimental effects especially if that person learns about your party and you need to continue to work with them on a regular basis.
What kind of invitations are you going to send? Are you sending traditional hand-written party invitations? Or are you more creative and tech savvy so that you can send e-vites? This might be a better method if you want to reach more people quickly and make it easier for them to RSVP.
Whatever method of invitations you pick, make sure that you can accommodate all your guests in the likelihood that they all decide to attend. While complete attendance is not the norm for many parties, a host must plan on that eventuality as nothing could be more disastrous on the day of the party than not to have enough seating or food and drinks for all of the guests.
Deciding on what types of decorations you are going to have is often a delight for those with a creative mind. Is your party a themed party? If so, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find appropriate decorations at a nearby party store. Many online party stores can also accommodate your needs.
And if you are going to be more creative than purchasing your decorations at a party store, consider the décor. For an indoor party, you might want to consider fabrics that you can use to add to walls and tables. Draping the fabrics across them with lighting reflecting on them will create unique reflection.
In addition, the most creative may want to design their own decorations. Remember to include plenty of color to elevate the mood at your party. In addition to colored streamers, you can have colored flatware, glassware, and plates. Brightly colored straws are also certain to delight your guests. And don’t forget those fun colorful umbrellas that can be added to everyone’s drinks-both old and young alike. You can add color to stemmed glassware by covering the bases in brightly colored glitter and then sealing the bases with a glossy coat to seal in the glitter and make the glasses washable.
Wrap your utensils in colored napkins and place in a painted metal bucket so that each guest can take their utensils and go.
Alternatively, glue multi-colored crayons to empty tin cans that have had the labels removed. These make great holders for your colorfully wrapped utensils or you could put multi-colored utensils in each one with different cans used for forks, knives, and spoons.
Mason jars make perfect glasses for your party. Instead of purchasing expensive glassware, drill holes in the lids of mason jars and add a rubber grommet to the hole. You can then use brightly colored straws.
For the quaint and unusual cooler, consider adding some old-fashioned charm by using a wheelbarrow full of ice. Add your bottles to the wheelbarrow. You could also use a barrel or even a small wagon filled with ice as a cooler.
Brightly colored summer lanterns or even pineapple lanterns fit well with a luau-themed party. You might want to consider a flip-flop serving tray for the same theme or a grass skirt table covering to complete that theme.
If you want to make your own lanterns, consider making twine lanterns, which you can hang from trees. Make a mixture of ½ cup cornstarch, 4 oz. white school glue, and ¼ cup warm water. After you blow up a balloon, soak yarn or twine in the cornstarch mixture. Wrap the yarn or twine around a balloon, letting it dry on the balloon. When you pop the balloon, you will have a yarn lantern.
Don’t forget the arrangements to add to the center of each table. Make them fit the theme and the season. Coke bottles filled with flowers are a very simple addition that will add to the classic rustic theme and will pair well with ice-filled barrels or wheelbarrows.
And you can make your own table runner. Glue some popsicle sticks together and add splattered acrylic paint to the popsicle sticks to create a unique pattern.
Though it may not seem significant, music creates the mood for any party. If you are having a cocktail party, you might want to include soft jazz music with muted lighting. Livelier bluegrass music and brighter lighting would work better for a cookout. While selecting and creating a playlist may seem light a small detail, we all know how music can enhance the mood you are trying to create at the party. This seemingly small detail is truly an essential.
Activities for Children
If you are planning a party for families, don’t forget to include activities for the children. You might also want to consider the ages of the children as activities that might be of interest to preteens probably won’t be suitable for children under ten. Don’t forget that parents need time to kick back and enjoy the party, too.
If you have an outdoor trampoline, this might be the perfect entertainment for children. Know a teenage babysitter? You might consider hiring them for the party so that they can monitor the trampoline to ensure that only small numbers of children of similar ages are on the trampoline at any given time.
Children aren’t the only ones who love party games. There are plenty of games that both adults and kids can enjoy together. The old-fashioned potato sack race is fun for adults and children. Just gather up some burlap sacks or old sturdy pillowcases and you have all the equipment you need for this fun-filled race.
Horseshoes is another game that is relatively inexpensive and easy for adults and children. Set the stakes further apart for adults and closer together for children. You could even have two sets of stakes, one for adults and one for the kids.
Who doesn’t love limbo? Two people hold either end of a pole, which keeps getting lower and lower. Be careful, though. This is one game at which the kids will probably do better than the adults.
Twister isn’t only an indoor game played on a mat. Grab your twister game and spinner and take it outside. Instead of the mat, spray colored circles on the grass to imitate the colors of the mat.
While goody bags are often used for children’s parties, you can use goody bags for adult or family parties as well. You might consider using red, white, and blue bags for and Independence Day themed party or colorful neon colored bags for your summer barbeque.
What should you put in the bags? Candies with red, white, and blue wrappers would be perfect for Independence Day. Or for a summer cook out complete with neon colored party bags, you could fill the bags with toppings for ice cream.
Wine bottles would make a great party favor for a bachelorette party. You could even order custom labels for the wine bottles to make the party favor perfect. Flip-flops that match the color scheme of the wedding will also be a great idea for a party favor. Leis as party favors also work especially if you can find some to match the colors of the wedding.
And did you know that you could order personalized shot glasses that light up? What better way to memorialize that bachelorette party! Or if you didn’t want to use the shot glasses idea, you could even purchase themed cup cozies.
Who wouldn’t want candy in their party bag? Try unique desert-flavored candy bars in flavors such as red velvet cake, s’mores, or tiramisu.
Whether you plan to hire a bartender to set up an open bar or have bottles of wine and beer available, drinks are an important part of any party. Make sure that you have a variety of drinks to accommodate the tastes of all of your guests. For instance, if you decide to offer alcohol and have a selection of beer available in bottles, be cognizant that not all of your guests may be beer drinkers. You might want to have bottles of wine with wine glasses set up on a drink table near the bottles of beer in a cooler so that you can address the tastes of all of your guests.
If you have decided not to offer any alcoholic drinks, make sure that you have plenty of different sodas to pick from and don’t forget to include bottled water for those who prefer water to soda. Remember that there are usually calorie conscious persons in every crowd who will often opt for diet soda or water.
And don’t forget your young guests. If you are hosting a family or children’s party, be sure to include child friendly adult approved drinks. Juice boxes with 100% juice are often a choice that is acceptable to both parents and children.
Whatever drinks you decide upon, make sure that you space your coolers or drink tables evenly throughout the venue so that guests aren’t forced to crowd around any particular area to grab a beverage. While you might want to only have one area set up for an open bar, you would want to have multiple coolers spaced around the party location for drinks such as sodas, beer, or water. Making the beverages more easily accessible for your guests will even out the flow of guests at the party, creating a much more relaxed atmosphere.
Of course, a party would not be a party without the food. While all of the other details of the party previously mentioned are very important, food can make a break a party. You could have the best decorations, the best location, the most wonderful drinks, and the perfect music, but if the food is lacking, guests may remember how the food fell short of their expectations.
- Make sure that the food matches the theme of the party. If you are having a family Independence Day cookout, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pork barbeque are perfect food items. Don’t try to serve heavy d’oeuvres that wouldn’t likely appeal to your Independence Day crowd.
- Be conscious of the dietary needs of your guests. If you are hosting an Italian-themed summer party with plenty of pizza and pasta dishes, you might want to check with your guests to see if anyone has gluten intolerance. If so, you may want to offer gluten-free alternatives to the traditional pizza and pasta.
If you are inviting co-workers to your party and you work for a very environmentally conscious company with employees who share environmentally conscious view, make sure that you are aware of their preferences for eating meat. Hosting a pig roast for a majority of guests who are vegan would certainly put a damper on any party.
- Be creative, but not too creative. If you are hosting a party for your husband’s football buddies and their families, plan to have good hearty food. A pasta bar might be a good idea, where guests can add their own toppings to a variety of pastas. On the other hand, foot-long subs could be the perfect food. You might want to scratch the idea for trying different varieties of caviar. That probably wouldn’t appeal to this crowd.
- Don’t forget the condiments. Make sure that you have plenty of ketchup, mustard, relish, etc. if you are hosting a summer cookout. And while you may not be big on salt and pepper, plenty of people are, so be sure to include those too.
- To cook or not to cook-that is definitely the question. Do you have enough time to cook for all of your guests? Do you want to spend all the time and effort that it will take to cook and clean up? If you decide that you don’t want to cook, there is the perfect alternative. Even with the best planning, cooking can add avoidable stress to the event.
Hire a caterer to prepare and cook the food. Giordando’s is the perfect choice. Not only do we offer delicious food, but they also offer a variety of food that is sure to appeal to every taste. Giordano’s catering is the choice for Chicago’s best catering for parties.
Not only is their food spectacular, but they offer a large variety of choices. You can pick from boxed lunches with one-of-a-kind sandwiches, classic pastas, or the ever-famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
For starters, we offer fresh salads sure to appeal to any summer appetite.
- chopped salad
- house salad
- caesar salad
- harvest greens salad
- Italian salad
- Greek salad
As your guests arrive, offer them some of Giordano’s tasty appetizers, which include:
- cheesy garlic bread
- tomato bruschetta
- chicken tenders
- chicken wings
- fried mozzarella triangles
- mini Italian sausage skewers
- caprese skewers
- Meiterranean pasta salad
- Soup of the day
Sandwiches are on the freshest of bread with seasoned meats. They include:
- Giordano’s Italian
- Tuscan chicken
- chicken club
- turkey avocado
- smoked ham and provolone
- Mediterranean wrap
- Caprese tomato and mozzarella
Chicago deep-dish style pizza is sure to complete any party. We offer the following varieties:
- the special
- Chicago classic
- meat & more meat
- fresh spinach
- super veggie
- bacon bbq chicken
- chicken sausage deluxe
For the heartiest Italian fare, our traditional meals include:
- Mama Giordano’s lasagna
- chicken parmesan
- chicken Vesuvio
- chicken limone
- Chicken carbonara rigatoni
- Mama’s meatballs
- country-style rigatoni
- classic rigatoni specials
No meal is complete without dessert. With Giordano’s Italian desserts, you can’t go wrong. We offer:
- dessert tray
To try some or all of these delicious foods at your next party, contact your local Giordano’s for pricing and a description of these tasty menu items.