Outdoor entertaining is a summer ritual in the Bay Area. Backyard barbecues are all well and good, but the team at AAA House Manager was inspired to serve up a list of ideas for how to take your summer bash to the next level. After all, it’s not every month you can throw a party under the sun. So our goal is to help you make it shine.
First stop: The Farmers' Market
From fresh nibbles to floral bouquets, the local farmers' market should be the first stop for anyone planning a summer soirée. There’s no substitute for fresh, local flavor, and your guests will notice the difference. Not sure about the menu? You can simply let the season be your guide.
Or pick a store like Alameda Natural Grocery or the Pleasant Hill Market that prides itself on being true to the season and offering the freshest produce imaginable. Crudités. Herb dips. Garden fresh salsas. If it’s fresh, it’s bound to be flavorful.
Pro Tip: Why not combine your love of fresh nibbles and floral bouquets? Southern Living offers this enticing list of 10 tasty florets you can use to add an ambrosial flourish to your salads, cocktails and even desserts.
Choose a theme
Throwing a summer party with a theme is a sure way to make it an event to remember. The proverbial pool party is one obvious theme choice, but Sunset Magazine offers several creative options from Mad Men to Downton Abbey that are guaranteed to make your party a splash hit, whether you have a pool or not. One theme idea not on Sunset’s list, but that makes perfect sense for a Californian party: Surf’s Up.
Set the scene
When it comes to décor, summer is no time to be subtle. Make your outdoor space stand out with paper lanterns, party lights and freshly cut flowers in the brightest hues you can find. Adding cushions and pillows to the lawn furniture will inspire guests to relax and enjoy themselves. Consider skipping the paper plates in favor of real china, glassware and utensils from inside. If disposable is non-negotiable (because nobody wants to do the dishes), New York Magazine offers a roundup of “fancy disposable plates” that are as elegant as they are compostable. They also come in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Got a pool?
Everybody loves a pool party. But sometimes, in all the excitement, a guest will forget to bring their towel, sunscreen, goggles or even their swimsuit. You can be that forgetful guest’s hero by stocking extra pool supplies on their behalf. Having plenty of iced beverages on hand is another great idea. Too much fun in the sun can lead to dehydration.
Make sure your guests are covered
Bay Area weather can be blissfully temperate, or downright scorching. Either way, you'll want to make sure your guests are properly covered and comfortable. For chillier micro-climates, drape a throw on the back of each guest’s chair and will let them know you’ve got their back in the event Karl the Fog shows up uninvited. If you're out in the sunnier scapes, prop open umbrellas or set up under your pergola. Not enough shade to fit everyone under? Create your own! The right coverings can also add a nice color accent to your summer tableau.
Punch it up a notch
It’s hard for the crew at AAA House Manager to imagine a summer party without a proper summer punch. It’s festive, easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. Delish serves up a list of 30 refreshing options for your summer bash. If the weather is hot, it’s safe to assume your guests will need a drink in their hands. You might as well make it a punch.
Pick your playlist
Listen up: Good music is essential to any outdoor summer party. Curating the perfect playlist isn’t child’s play, but you also don’t need a professional DJ to do it. You’ll want to make it fun. You may want to make it thematic (think reggae, salsa, surfer rock). And you’ll want to make sure it lasts at least three hours because, even if you’ve programmed the hottest summer hits, nobody wants to hear them over and over. Mashable offers a few pointers of their own.
What’s for dessert?
It’s an ice cream sundae bar, of course! If you want to melt hearts with your dessert course, a buffet-style ice cream bar is definitely the way to go. From inventive toppings to whimsical ways for your guests to fill up their bowls (because you know they will), Food and Wine has compiled a list of suggestions to raise the ice cream sundae bar. Amarena cherries soaked in bourbon, anyone?
Bay Area summers are unlike anywhere else in the country. They can be hot or chilly, sunny or foggy. But it’s still summer, which means there’s always a reason to throw a party. Tossing a few burgers and brats on the grill is one way to do it, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Thinking outside the BBQ isn’t simply more fun. It will have people talking about your summer bash long after summer has turned to fall.