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10 Essentials for Amazing Summer Parties

 by Richard Bashara

Who needs an excuse to celebrate summer? If you’re like most people, just having a warm beautiful day after all that cloudy and stormy weather is cause enough for a party. Many people have summer birthdays, summer weddings mean summer anniversaries, reunions and more milestones to fill the calendar.

If you’re involved in the planning of this kind of event, it’s easy to feel the pressure that comes with planning such a large gathering. These essentials, easily available all over the Web, will give you everything you need to throw an incredible party that won’t soon be forgotten.

1. Buffet Servers You can be Proud Of

You can go from backyard barbecue to Country Club chic with the right serving dishes. Stainless steel buffet servers by BroilKing are the perfect choice. The stainless steel makes them easy to clean, keeps their polish lasting, and will keep your food warm for guests who show up late to the party. Plus, you keep insects away from your food with protective covers. Avoid the microwave! Keep food fresh, and give the perfect presentation.

2. Modern Furniture

Outdoor wicker dining furniture is in, in a big way, and a lot of that has to do with how modern it looks. The frames are light, but very stable. Cast aluminum, on the other hand, looks nice for the first year or two before it rusts. Wicker’s woven detail really makes the back yard pop, and provides ample sitting space for multiple guests. Plus, pieces are affordable. A lounge won’t cost much more than a few hundred dollars, which is comparable with cheaper furniture. The added cost is worth it, though, because the pieces will last longer.

Wicker Paradise offers its Cape Cod dining set, available in all-white (great for backyards without a defined color scheme) or a natural earth tone.

3. Bug Repellant

Although we’re not at a point where we need full scale panic over Zika, it’s probably a good idea to think about bugs considering your summer party is likely to be staged outdoors. The old Citronella candle is one route, but it’s not very appealing and the smell can be off putting. Mosquitoes are also tough to swat, so we recommend this portable mosquito repeller for your table top. Coming in at the size of an 8 or 12 oz beverage, it provides the peace of a mosquito-free zone with a pleasing scent that combines lemongrass, peppermint and geranium oils.

4. Lighting

Just because the sun goes down, doesn’t mean festivities will end.

If you invest in a little bit of lighting, it will pay off in spades. If you’re not in a windy area, paper lanterns you can find at your local craft or hardware store are excellent options. Be a bit more eco friendly with these solar illuminated planters as well. More accent lighting than main lighting, these planters can change colors for interesting schemes. Maybe you want a rainbow colored path leading to snow cones for the kids, or something dimly lighting a pathway to a romantic getaway tucked in the back of the yard.

Another fairly new (and totally cool) idea is something called “glow-crete”. A definite hit with kids, glow-crete will give your pavement a soft blue shimmer. You can also re-pave your driveway with it to send guests off in style.

5. Make Drinks Like a Pro

If you’re going to be the hostess with the mostess, you’ve got to keep the drinks coming. You could put your husband or a friend on drink detail, but it’s really rather fun to mix your own. The simple Margarita is a consistent classic; add a bit of Grand Marnier for the “Cadillac” variant. This mixed drink maker by Margaritaville Cargo will give you a lot more options than just Margaritas, even though it’s what the machine was made for.

One word of warning about pacing: be like John Cusack from “Say Anything” and take keys from those who drink. Call it their “tab” and give the keys back when they’re ready to safely leave your house for the night.

6. Swanky Dishware

Guests will appreciate these ice shot glasses almost as much as the drinks you serve in them. The coldness will stave off the warm summer heat, but you have to make them ahead of time if you want them done right. Boil tap water twice, leaving a brief period of cooling between each boil. Place the twice boiled water into the shot glass tray and prepare to be amazed by flawless looking shot glasses.

If you’re looking for a shot to plan around it, may we suggest the Apple Pie. The recipe varies, depending on where you look, but the basic gist is this:

One shot of vodka in your icy shot glass, a dollop of whipped cream (either on your offhand or topping the shot), 1 shot of apple juice or apple cider, and a pinch of cinnamon. First you lick the cinnamon, then you take the shot, then the apple cider cools the liquor and the cream finishes. You’ll be amazed at how much it tastes just like your favorite pie.

7. Outdoor Speakers

What’s a party without music? It used to be that wiring the backyard for sound was an expensive endeavor, and that’s still true for top of the line equipment. For those on a budget, or those who don’t want to re-create Lollapalooza, these indoor-outdoor speakers from Sharper Image (Here is a set that isn’t sold out) will work well. Amazon’s Alexa can do wonders too, but the sound output might not be enough to cover the yard depending on size. Of course, a simple auxiliary cable and an iPhone will do the trick as well.

8. Streaming Music

Ok, you’re at a party and you’re rocking out when you hear… a commercial? This isn’t broadcast radio, you’re playing DJ for your family and friends. Do it right and pay for a streaming service. Spotify is a good one, but Google Music and even Amazon Prime have comparable offerings. If offbeat is your jam, Spotify is probably going to have all those indie bands you love. For mainstream music lovers, there may be more affordable options elsewhere. Spotify does have a very easy to use interface that lets you quickly toss playlists together, or browse songs based on your mood or theme. If you’re mobile (bringing the party to a campsite, for instance), Spotify also has an offline feature.

Of course, those with an extensive MP3 library they already own need not worry about streaming.

9. DIY Drive-In Theatrics

What’s more fun than a summer movie? Ok cat videos, but what’s more fun than that? Movies outside, which you can project on any surface outside your house with this guide. You’ll learn everything from how to choose a projector, to which surfaces are great for projecting. Connect a few wires and you’re good to go in no time.

10. Photo Booths for Capturing Memories
Believe it or not, the Polaroid is probably one of the best options you have to make physical prints from a photo booth. Their Digital Instant Print Camera is not only old-school cool, it’s perfect for other occasions too (anyone have a kids birthday party coming up?). You can always take pictures on your cell phone, but the days of the physical photo haven’t come and gone.

That’s our list of summer essentials. What makes your summer bashes complete?