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Let's Host a Summer Picnic on the Roof

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at my Americana-inspired summer party. Think bright colors and patterns, food fresh off the grill, and a do-it-yourself snow cone station.

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Meet the Hostess

I'm always looking for fun ways to put a twist on expected holiday décor, while still giving a nod to tradition. Fourth of July is the perfect time to incorporate touches of Americana, and Target's summer POPTIMISM! collection laid the foundation for all the colorful, bold decor elements we used throughout the picnic. Hot dog, watermelon, and ice cream motifs feel very all-American, and look great combined with traditional stars and stripes!

 

Summer entertaining is all about impromptu outdoor parties, food served straight off the grill and bare feet. I love to host fuss-free gatherings where the host can have as much fun at the party as the guests! 

What to Pack and How to Snack

Room-temperature items are great since it means not having to pack everything on ice or heat it up while your guests are around. You also want items that will hold up and won't become soggy in the open air. Crusty breads like baguettes are great sandwich choices since they don't absorb a lot of moisture, and when it comes to salads, crunchy vegetables like radishes, carrots and cucumbers won't go limp. My go-to menu includes: Turkey, apple and brie baguette sandwiches, couscous tabbouleh, fresh berries and homemade peanut butter cookies. Don't forget lemonade for the kids and rosé and sparkling water on ice for grown-ups! 

 

For this party, I decided to go with traditional a Fourth of July menu with cheeseburger sliders, hot dogs, corn on a stick, chips, salad, and fruit kabobs.

Transport Your Treats

Use festive, but disposable, flatware and serveware so you can picnic in style, but cleanup is a breeze. Basic Tupperware and an insulated thermos are perfect for transporting everything and make it easy to dish and display everything for guests as they arrive. I load everything in and out of a big beach bag with a picnic blanket and a portable speaker so we can play a summery soundtrack.

Get the Party Started

It's fun to go all out with bright colors and patterns — especially when kids are invited — because summer is the time to mix and match prints and not take décor too seriously! For this Fourth of July-inspired picnic I hosted, we mixed cheeky prints from the POPTIMISM! collection (like the watermelon plates and hamburger napkins) with red, white and blue plates and napkins for a fresh spin on holiday décor. The paper lanterns with star prints and hanging paper fans are some of my personal favorites this holiday, and will add a magical touch to any party space.

 

Keep the centerpiece simple: For outdoor gatherings, I usually stick with a laid-back centerpiece that won't wilt in the heat. A wooden bowl looks so cheerful when filled with lemons and limes, or wildflowers gathered in ceramic vases make for a casual and colorful arrangement or potted herbs or succulents can be sent home with guests for impromptu party favors. When serving food family-style, beautiful platters filled with abundant food can be an inviting centerpiece all on their own.

 

Don't forget mood lighting: As the sun sets, I like to create a magical glow with some strategically-placed candles and lights. Hang string lights overhead, place a few lanterns with candles around the patio or scatter bamboo torches filled with citronella oil along the perimeter of the yard. They will ward off bugs and add light!

Set Up a DIY Snow Cone Station

There's no better way to say "cheers!" to summer than with everyone's favorite frozen treat: snow cones! And making them at home is a whole lot easier than you might think.

Here's what you need:

 

Fill a snow cone maker with a bag of ice, follow manufacturers' instructions, then top the frozen concoction with your favorite syrup or create your own flavors at home. Serve them up in colorful treat cups with a drink umbrella, and make sure to have plenty of strawsspoons, and napkins on hand! 

Drink Up

In the heat of the summer, guests will drink more cold beverages than you ever thought possible. Set up a drink station in a shaded area of the yard where everyone can pour their own beverages and go back for refills as many times as they like. Mix and match glassware for a casual vibe, and include a couple of seasonal garnishes like fresh herbs and berries to dress up cocktails. I love to fill large drink dispensers with lemonade and infuse water with cooling mint and cucumbers. They make the bar look amazing while ensuring that there's always a nonalcoholic option to quench guests' thirst.

Keep the Kids Happy

Make elements of the décor interactive so kids can get creative. Consider using a big roll of paper as a table runner — scatter buckets of crayons and markers on the table and let everyone decorate their own place setting. This will make set-up quick and easy for you and give everyone around the table something to do in-between eating.

My #1 Tip For Hosting a Summer Party

Embrace the casual nature of summer parties and keep things simple! Utilize outdoor space as much as possible and rely on cute disposable plates and cups, a big pitcher of lemonade and lots of delicious food thrown on the grill. Don't forget to turn on a great playlist, put out a couple of lawn games and hang some string lights or patriotic banners for a party your guests are sure to remember.

Credits

Event Design: Camille Styles | @camillestyles

Photographer: Kristen Kilpatrick | @kilpat

Party supplies: Target POPTIMISM!

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