Instead of seeking the shade, opt for one of these elegant solutions at your next outdoor gathering.

Outdoor parties are often casual affair, and in the summer post-COVID, we're all looking forward to finally relaxing with friends and family. Despite how much you're looking forward to a season of cookouts and backyard birthday celebrations, there's a good chance you're not thrilled about how hot these events might be. If you're hosting, it's important to help keep your guests cool and comfortable so that they'll want to stick around and enjoy each other's company. Luckily, there are creative ways to do just that.

Serve Chilled Drinks

Hydration is key to staying cool and safe. When it's hot outside, a perfectly chilled pitcher of sparkling punch (we suggest making both an adult version and one that's kid-friendly) prepped with peak-season fruit is always refreshing. And did you know that coconut water has 12 times more electrolytes than sugary sports drinks? Having fresh coconut water at your next summer fête will not only have guests refreshed, but it'll leave them thinking they're someplace tropical. Ace your setup by placing your outdoor cooler in a shady spot or underneath the buffet table; for the tabletop, use a festive watertight beverage bucket (with lots of ice).

Play Outdoor Games

If you're hosting a playful crowd (kids included or those who are simply kids at heart), there's an array of games to enjoy outside that can help beat the heat. For one? Tossing homemade splash balls made from sponges. You can also try a classic water balloon relay race, water olympics in the pool, or an obstacle course featuring outdoor hoses and sprinklers for the younger guests.

outdoor picnic table under tree by wooden fence
Credit: Pernille Loof

Choose a Shady Setting

Is one corner of your yard more shaded than the rest? Make that home base for the party. When there is no natural shade, make your own: Canvas is a sturdy, weather-resistant material that lends itself to so many projects like a poolside umbrella, fashioning a glamping site (which doubles as a fun photogenic moment), or a swinging hammock between shady trees. Make clever use of parasols, too.

Serve Sweet Desserts

Summertime is the season for frozen desserts: Imagine a Cherry-Cheesecake Celebration Bombe that's layers of sweet frozen cream modeled into a rounded shape at your next summer barbecue. For a bigger crowd, serve a platter of ice cream waffle sandwiches; a scoop of your favorite frozen treat-ice cream, gelato, or sorbet-between waffle cookies creates these sweet treats. And what do creamy mango and very berry all have in common? They're flavors of homemade popsicles you can whip up at home.

Gift Them Something Memorable

A party favor extends the fun of the party even when the day is done. And when there isn't an inch of shade insight, sun hats, are the next best thing. Additionally, arranging a set of paper fans on your table for guests to use at their leisure is a well-thought (and much appreciated) effort. Crafting floral paper fans in the color scheme of your upcoming gathering will not only entertain guests but keep them feeling posh and collected.


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