DIY Summer Party Ideas
The hot, lazy days of summer have arrived. Kids are out of school. People are taking time off. It is time to enjoy the outdoors. Time to throw an outdoor party for no reason at all or because you have something special to celebrate.
No matter what there are a few basic ingredients to throw a good party. They are: good friends and family, wonderful food and plenty of drinks, music, lighting and DIY ideas for decorating with some how to tips. Last but not least we need a theme: how about the colours of the sunset! Appropriate since sunsets can be so spectacular in summer.
DIY Party Decorating Ideas
We have our theme, we have our basic colours: blush, soft pinks, yellow oranges, a hint of purple and red. Lets start putting all the elements together. There are of course different type of parties, but I just want to focus on dinner or apples parties.
Furniture - The furniture required for a dinner party is slightly different than that for an apples party. While casual lounge seating is enough for an apples party, you will need a dining table and side chairs for a dinner party in addition to lounge seating. Goes without saying, right!
Most people already have some form of lounge or dinner seating in their backyard, or on their balcony (remember that some of these ideas and suggestions can be translated to balcony style entertaining - just on a smaller scale…).
If your furniture has seen many summers and is looking tired, you could consider painting it in one of the colours of our theme. I like how the metal chairs have been spray painted bronze in the image above. Alternatively, bright pink or yellow orange will do as well.
If you are lucky to have a big back yard, a cool urban garden or even private beach access nothing would be more wonderful than setting up right on the grass or in the sand and let your bare feet slide through it. A couple of weekends ago I visited with friends who have a cottage farm on a lake in Ontario. Their beach would be just perfect for a dinner party like this. Surrounded by trees and tall hay, lights could be strung through the branches to make the ambience soft and romantic. During my visit my friend hung solar-powered paper lanterns in the trees (more about these below). They looked so friendly and welcoming at night when it was pitch-black and ever so silent. My visit was deliciously wonderful!
Doesn’t the image above show such an inviting grouping? A table with food and drinks, a chaise, a wicker chair with a big personality. Add some chairs and pillows and your are ready to entertain. A fresh, colourful cocktail or a G&T…. what more could anyone want? Note how the sunset colour deep red and pink are reflected in the chair pillow and chaise cover. This type of setting can be easily transported to anyone’s backyard of course.
Rattan and wicker or cane are materials that lend themselves perfectly to outdoor seating. These materials are making a strong comeback today. My parents had rattan lounge chairs a long time ago. Maybe you are lucky to have parents or grandparents who have a set collecting dust in an attic or basement. Such pieces could be cleaned and spray painted in sunset colours. Then again, their natural finish is beautiful in its own right. Add some cushions and throws in sunset colours and you’re good to go.
For outdoor dining I prefer long, wooden tables (preferably old, scratched and crooked). They always remind me of Southern France and Italy. Team them up with old mismatched wooden chairs (from the Sally Ann store), or painted metal ones. Benches will do a great job as well. You could also put any number of wooden picnic tables together with the benches attached. Authentic and outdoorsy looking.
Throwing an apples party? Make sure you have plenty of lounge seating. Any of the seating mentioned above will work fine. If you are using your existing set of chairs and love-seat or sofa you can add new pillows to coordinate with the other sunset colours you will be using. Not enough seating available? How about throwing a kilim rug down and add some poufs to lounge on. Wayfair has plenty of kilim rugs to choose from at a reasonable price. Can’t find a nice pouf in the store? Knit a square cube as shown below, or make a patchwork one from old scraps of clothing. Make sure you choose sunset colours for the best coordination!
Lighting - As always lighting is an important element of design and decorating. An outdoor party without the right type of lighting just doesn’t cut it in my view. Some of the images above show string lighting in a couple of different settings. Let’s look at some more wonderful options. Any of these are easy to make or purchase at the local hardware store. Don’t overlook the dollar store for inexpensive materials!
I love how the string lights are suspended from the thick branch of the tree in above image, don’t you? And not to forget the ones wrapped around the tree trunk. Such ambience!
Use paper lanterns. Available in a myriad of colours. If your city or town has an Asian population I bet you will be able to find them. Those paper lanterns at my friends’ cottage I talked about earlier? Ikea sells them in two different sizes, solar-powered and ready to be hung. Inexpensive as well, just a couple of bucks.
Other fun options are: mason jar lights, tea lights in jars, papercup string lights, lights wrapped around a fence, metal solar-powered garden lights from your local hardware store. And, not to forget candles in all sizes and in colours of the setting sun.
Decorations - You know how they say ‘the devil is in the details’? It truly always is, whether decorating for a party, dressing for one, food preparation etc. Details is what makes it special. So lets talk about some of these details.
To make the space look festive there a few things I really like: balloons, crystals and pompoms. This may sound silly, but bear with me. In the case of balloons, choose colours that fit the sunset colour theme. The balloons can be blown up to different sizes or all the same size. If you want them to be the same size, put two chairs apart the distance equal to the width of a balloon. For instance, if you want the balloons to be 50 cm or 20 inches in width, set the chairs that far apart so that when blowing them up between these two chairs they all will be about the same width. Stick the balloons to the ceiling or hang them from branches. Add some twine to the bottom of the balloon and attach eucalyptus and flowers to them with wire or fishing line for additional effect, colour and fragrance.
Hang strings with clear or colourful crystals from the ceiling or branches. They will catch the light and add a sense of mystery. I have used paper strips with pompoms attached to them in the past. These pompoms are easy to make and they can be any size you want. Again hang them from a ceiling, an arbor or tree branches. They make great table decorations as runners or just sweet garlands to add a touch of fun.
If you have an old door hanging around in your garage, why not paint it in your theme’s colours and place it as a backdrop somewhere. Maybe behind the drinks or apples table, or at the end of the dining table.
Table Settings - Looking for an elegant setting? The subtle colour of soft pink of the dinner plates shown below will add that touch to your dinner table. Combined with clear glasses of Rose wine and you have a winning combination. The rose-gold coloured cutlery completes the look.
Alternatively, use old. mismatched but colourful plates for dishes. These have a bohemian charm and show really well with glasses of different forms, sizes and colours. Any of these can be found in local thrift stores. Who knows you may end up with a true Lalique piece of glass - worth a fortune! Or borrow from friends! Finish off the table with fresh flowers like Peonies.
To add to the bohemian look place empty, brown beer bottles with a twig from your garden as table decorations. Add tall candleholders with pink or deep purple candles. Use an incense holder as a name card support. Put two small plumes in the incense holder so they can serve as backdrop for these cards. Use a deep rose coloured linen table cloth and napkins. Serve water and wine from terracotta coloured jugs
No party is complete without a game or two. If you have invited people who don’t know one another this may also be a good time to play a game to break the ice and stimulate the conversation. One game which can be easily done at the table is Bingo. Add some stickers to some cards and have those with stickers perform a specific task. Could be hilarious!
Another great icebreaker is a game which can be played as soon as guests arrive. This game is called ‘What Am I”. Guests have to figure out what object they are: have headbands made of cloth. Print the name of an object on the band and tie the band around your guest’s head without them knowing what object is mentioned on their band. Throughout the evening they have to ask other guests questions about what kind of object they have. The questions can only be ones to which you answer only yes or no. One word of caution: there may be people who might not want to wear a headband…..it could ruin their hairdo - LOL. In that case, pin a note to their back mentioning the object. Winners get a price! Should be fun!
Food - I am not going into any food suggestions since that’s not what this blog is about. However, for the sake of adding colour adding macaroons, candy and fruit in the colours of the sunset will make the table look festive and inviting.
And, what about serving the food from one long plank as shown below. That has a certain charm, doesn’t it?
In summary, let’s talk about kids. What to do when there are kids at a party? While they will be part of the dinner, you may want to consider setting something up just for them to play in or with. Here is a great idea for just that! A tent made from twigs, branches, some cloth and loads of pillows. They could even help you setting it up. Simple and fun.
Hope you enjoyed reading it all. Now, go out and put on your finest and party it up. Thanks for the visit!