Summer Outdoor Party Frequently Asked Questions

No matter where you live, planning a party outdoors can be unpredictable--either incredibly fabulous or (weather un-permitting) a real nightmare. Summer parties are hopefully filled with starry nights, a summer breeze, Japanese lanterns and fireflies. But be prepared...it doesn’t always turn out that way!

Q: What different types of summer parties are there?

A: Picnics, pool parties, barbeques, golf outings and more celebrating anything and everything from rehearsal dinners and weddings to milestone birthdays or holidays (like, um, Summer Solstice, Memorial Day, July 4th, Dog Days of Summer, Labor Day to name a few).

Q: If I am having a summer party in my backyard, do I need a tent in case it rains?
A: Tents are fairly expensive, and the problem is that if you don’t have flooring and it rains, it’s still soggy and humid. Add flooring to the price of a tent and you may be way over budget. On the other hand, if your summer picnic or outdoor party is during the day and it’s 90 outside, you do need some kind of cover for people to get out of the sun and into the shade. Umbrella tables work for that, too, and they can be rented from a local company.

Q: Is a backyard a good alternative to a metro park or some type of pavilion?
A: You are the best judge. Is your backyard level? Is it dry? Are there a lot of mole holes (a broken ankle begging to happen)? Do you have plenty of room for relay races and/or any games you might want to plan in addition to tables, chairs, buffets and more? Will you have to rent everything you need? Go to a metro park for your picnic or summer soireé and you usually can find an area with a pavilion, picnic tables, parking, running water and grills.

Q: How do you beat the heat if you’ve planned a summer event and the weather is warmer than usual?
A: If you are using a tent and you want to be ready for rain and/or a very hot day, you can either use fans from the ceiling which move the air, air conditioning which is not unusual at all but expensive or misters which can drop the temperature in the tent by as much as 25 degrees.

If you are not using a tent, again be prepared with shaded areas and a lot of cool beverages to keep your guests hydrated.

Q: What is proper attire for a summer party and should it be listed on the invitation?
A: Absolutely list attire on the invitation. You can be serious or have fun with it. But when you leave it off, everyone starts calling everyone and asking, “What should I wear? What are you wearing?”
Choosing the attire for the party should be a “breeze,” but it’s not. Summer weddings are dressy, picnics and other summer outdoor parties are usually casual but not always. Remember...asking your guests to dress in black tie and/or summer suits and ties and formal gowns when you have no foul weather plan may be a big mistake. Consider your venue, the weather and your guests to make the right mix for a great but comfortable night. Emphasis on comfortable.

Q: What’s your favorite food to serve at a summer picnic or outdoor party?
A: Tropical drinks. Fruit (as long as it’s covered). A raw bar. Lots of dippy things (remember to keep them cool) like crudité (veggies) and chips with lots of dips. Light fare for dinner like grilled salmon kebobs. There’s so much to choose from. Just remember to keep everything cool, bug-free and hot weather proof. Potato salad on a buffet in the dead of summer is not a good thing.

Q: Any great favor ideas?
A: You mean like distributing packets of Off®? That works for me. Also, fun sunglasses if it’s daytime, zinc oxide for the nose (comes in all colors), lip gloss, little tubes of SPF100 lotion, those battery operated fans that hang around your neck, glow jewelry (great for any evening event), lemonade and ice tea mixes—some are favors, some are take home gifts...all are perfect.