It's officially party season! With summer break here, we're all in need of some R&R. And what better way to celebrate your newfound freedom than by throwing a social event with your friends? While of course it's fun to meet up at the local bar (assuming you're of age), it's fun to take the time and plan a special event. This gives everyone something to look forward to and will create some amazing memories.
Ready to get started? Here are three summer break party ideas to try, plus my tips for party success.
The Pool Party
Cliche' as it may seem to have a pool party in summer, the idea is popular for a reason: It's so much fun! In June, before it gets too hot (at least down here in Texas), the weather is perfect for a dip in the pool before munching on some snacks.
If you don't have a pool, don't worry. There are plenty of public pools where you can invite your friends and play hostess. Just be sure to talk to them about their rules for parties, food, and beverages before you invite anyone.
To take your pool party from a childhood affair to grown-up get-together, go easy on the decor. It can be tempting to go "overboard" on balloons and inflatables, but doing so may bring back the birthday party vibes from the fourth grade. If your party is at night, embellish with some pretty outdoor LED candles that will create a more intimate setting.
Instead of doing just pizza and chips, which is typically the easiest for a pool party, add in some homemade guac (we're obsessed with Chrissy Teigen's cheesy guacamole) and a fruit salad. And if you're catering to the above-21 crew, you can go ahead and make some fun cocktails! Just make sure to use plastic drinking vessels instead of glass for safety reasons.
Fourth of July Party
It's never too early to begin planning a July Fourth shindig -- in fact, starting early ensures that your friends have adequate notice of your event.
The Fourth of July brings friends together through patriotism, so it's expected that you'll decorate with red, white, and blue. However, feel free to mix in some other summer colors to keep things fun. Yellows and oranges keep a summery feel but can provide a much needed relief for the eye with all the color monotony.
Since there isn't much to do until the fireworks begin, set up some games for your guests. Don't have too many, as you'll only end up with extra cleanup and the awkwardness of empty stations. I love playing the states games with friends -- see who can write down the most states in six minutes. There's also state capitals if you want a challenge. Or try the old-fashioned water balloon toss to cool off. Set up a photo booth with inexpensive props, like the ones here. Once nighttime rolls around, light up those sparklers and take lots of pictures.
Potlucks are awesome because you aren't solely in charge of doing everything. Plus, if one dish fails, another is likely to be a hit. Take care of the drinks and light snacks, and invite your guests to bring enough dinner to feed a family of four or some dessert.
If you're worried about palates clashing, make it a themed event -- strictly Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, etc. I've also been to potlucks where there was a color theme, like orange or red. You can get even more creative with the theme to keep it fun - here are some more ideas.
Let everyone in the group know of any dietary restrictions within the group beforehand -- it sucks being the only vegetarian to show up when everyone else has brought chicken. And obviously make sure you're ready with enough plates, forks, knives, etc.
For potluck decor, keep it simple with some nice tablecloths and centerpieces. Floral arrangements in summer tend to look nice, but you can get away with just a few flowers if you try one of these lemon centerpieces, which I have been dying to try forever. A few small tealight candles or paper lanterns around the table can be nice if your party is happening after dark.
What are your favorite summer party ideas?
Have you thrown any awesome summer parties in the past? Do you and your friends have any fun summer traditions? Let me know in the comments!