Incorporate these thoughtful details to keep your guests comfortable—even in a heat wave.

By Blythe Copeland
June 08, 2021
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Late sunsets, al fresco dining, and relaxed social distancing guidelines mean you can spend your summer finally catching up on all the parties you missed hosting last year. But throwing a successful warm-weather bash means planning ahead to keep your guests comfortable on even the hottest days-or nights. Planners Christy Thiessen of Hello Gem Events and Sara Murray of Confetti and Company share their essentials for flawless summer hosting.

friends gathering around table outdoors
Credit: knape / Getty Images

Focus on the food.

Cold burgers, soggy fried chicken, warm potato salad, wilted lettuce: Keeping food at the proper temperature while serving an outdoor meal in the summer presents plenty of challenges. If you can't serve inside, keep cold dishes on ice and distribute heated food right from the grill. Another option is to outsource the cooking by ordering individual, catered picnic baskets or hiring a food truck: "If you are not in the mood to man the grill on top of your hosting duties, consider hiring a taco cart," says Thiessen. "Nothing gets people more excited than tacos!"

Protect your food from flies and other pests with netted food covers and citronella candles on the tables, and skip the self-serve ice cream sundaes in favor of wrapped gourmet popsicles or pre-dipped cones. "If you will be serving frozen desserts," says Thiessen, "I suggest passing them out to guests to ensure guests enjoy them before they are melted." And don't forget to tackle the main enemy of a summer party: "Running out of ice," says Theissen. "Always order backup and keep it in a spare cooler or shaded area."

Make it feel like home.

On especially humid days, you may find your guests migrating toward your air-conditioned spaces no matter how you set up your outdoor area, but there are a few easy additions you can make that'll help combat excessive sunshine and high temperatures-and keep the party outside. Add pillows to chairs placed in sunny spots to prevent your guests from burning their legs, and arrange relaxed lounge areas in shady areas. "Planning for enough seating is often overlooked," says Thiessen. "Create vibey floor lounges with nice blankets, poufs, and pillows for guests. Add your coffee table or wooden crates so guests can easily eat at the lounge." Market umbrellas and shade sails can also help your guests stay cool; use them to block the sun from beating down on dining and seating areas, says Thiessen. For all-day affairs, create a small station filled with must-haves. "Guests often forget to bring the essentials to someone else's home," says Thiessen. "You definitely need to have a basket filled with sunscreens, sunglasses and bug spray."

Diversify your drink offerings.

While you're stocking up on ingredients for margaritas, Champagne cocktails, and Aperol spritzes, don't forget plenty of water. "For a summer party, especially if it's outside, we recommend making sure your guests stay hydrated," says Murray. "It's super easy in the heat to overindulge in adult drinks and have the heat exacerbate the effect. Make sure drinks are light and hydrating and that they're balanced with a non-alcoholic option." Murray also adds hydrating options to the food table: "Snacks like melons, strawberries, and fresh fruits and vegetables are perfect within a crudité display, and keep guests and the party feeling fresh."

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