The weather is hot, school is over, kids are running through sprinklers and women are stressed about swimming suits — it must be summertime! Time to fire up the grill and party!
I have so many great memories associated with family cookouts, from my childhood and more recent years. But why do those summer parties stand out in my head so clearly? What makes them successful and special?
For me, there are three key ingredients to a successful summer party: little work, great company and delicious food. Don't get me wrong, I love a fancy party as much as the next girl, but summer parties are about food, snacks and relaxing — whether you're an attendee or the person actually throwing the party.
Here are my three ingredients for throwing the perfect summer party:
Ingredient #1: Little Work
Keep the party planning simple. If you want a theme, choose a color and make that the theme - plates, cups, napkins, tablecloths, and flowers all work around that one color. Set up a special, "snack zone" for the kids and load it full of snack packs of Cheez-It and Gripz.
Or throw up some Tiki torches to set a tropical mood. Whatever you decide, keep it laid back and relaxed. That's what summertime is all about!
Ingredient #2: Great Company
I'll leave it to you to invite your guests...and remember to keep the kids entertained! The best things in life are free and summertime entertainment doesn't have to break the bank. Turn on the sprinklers. Create a scavenger hunt. Set up a tent. The kids will love you.
Ingredient #3: Delicious Food
• Don't even think about grabbing dinner at a fast-food restaurant. Good cookout food can be both simple and delectable.
• Grab hot dogs and hamburger patties at the store. (Don't forget the veggie burgers!) I dare you to find someone who won't eat these classic BBQ treats. Pre-marinated steak tips are also a hit and easy to grill.
• S'mores Bar! That's right, grab some Keebler Grahams Crackers for S'more fun! Try using two Fudge Stripes cookies instead of crackers and chocolate - it's easy and delish! Or mix in a little fruit, peanut butter or even white chocolate and go crazy! S'mores are a dessert everyone loves, kids and adults alike, and they're fun to create together!
• Cut up a watermelon.
• Potato salad is easy, and so much better homemade. Here's a trick: toss the cooked and cubed potatoes in Italian dressing before adding mayonnaise, chopped onion and hard-boiled egg. The flavor is fantastic, with minimal work.
Top 10 Summer Party Themes
Assigning a theme to your next summer party is a great way to keep things fresh. Here are some of our favorite summer party themes.
10. Ice Cream Social
9. Flower/Garden Party
8. Crazy Hat Party
7. 70s/80s Party
6. Princess/Pirate Party
5. Low Country Boil Party
4. Karaoke Nights Party
3. Neighborhood Block Party
2. Beach/Pool Party and Luau
1. All American BQQ Party
The Shell Game
Lucky enough to get to the beach this summer? Well, save the shells that your kids find and create a family of little critters. A great way to promote creativity, they'll show off their little crafts all summer long.
What you'll need:
Seashells in various types and sizes
Watercolor paint kit or color markers
Hot glue gun*
What to do:
Color the shells
Glue* the eyes to your creatures
Note: Position the shell first to color them, before you set the glue out!
* Using the hot glue gun is something only adults should handle. Use caution when using around young kids.
The Backyard Summer Olympics
• Get the kids competing in running and wheelbarrow races, obstacle courses, water balloon tosses and jumping competitions.
• Finish off the fun with a mini-Olympic awards ceremony to honor all of the "athletes."
• Reward your little Olympians with snacks like Cheez-It or Variety Packs filled with Rice Krispies Treats, Grahams Crackers Bug Bites and Scooby Doo Baked Graham Cracker Sticks!