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Indoors or outdoors: Plan your best party, no matter where you are

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Plan the perfect party

Planning is key to throwing a great party. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning an indoor or outdoor party, it’ll go off without a hitch as long you plan carefully.

Pick a theme

Pick a theme

A great summer theme can turn the most boring soiree into an evening of fun and adventure. It can also help with the planning process because the theme will serve as an inspiration for decor, food and much more. If your party is going to be outside, consider a beach theme or a garden party. If it’s going to be indoors, consider a BBQ or western theme. The possibilities for a theme are nearly endless, so choose something that sounds like fun and matches your space.

6 Outdoor summer party themes >>

Get the invites out

Get the invites out

Get your invitations in the mail at least three weeks before your party. You want to give your guests plenty of notice so they’ll all be able to attend. If your party will be outdoors, make sure to note it in the invites so your guests can dress accordingly.

Woman cooking

Cook ahead of time

You don’t want to be holed up in the kitchen and miss the party! Serve foods that can be made ahead of time -- either the morning of your party, the day before or even weeks ahead of time and frozen. If your party is outside, make sure to take extra steps to keep cold food cold.

Avoid long lines

Avoid long lines

No matter if you’re inside or outside, no one wants to wait in a long line for food and drinks. Avoid bottleneck issues by spreading out the food stations.

Make food look good

Make everything look good

The presentation of your food and drinks has a lot to do with your guests’ impression of your hostess skills. Don’t serve anything in store packaging. Move dips, dressing, condiments and chips to bowls and move deli sandwiches, fruits and veggies to nice trays. Make sure every dish has a spoon or other serving wares.

Light the night

Make everyone comfortable

As a hostess, you want your guests to be comfortable. If you’re having a party outside, set up a few oscillating fans and maybe even a misting area to keep everyone cool. Provide plenty of shaded areas as well so everyone doesn’t have to stand in the sun. If your party is indoors, keep doors and windows open to keep the place from getting stuffy and keep an eye out for guests who are too hot or too cold.

Top ten party planning tips >>

Make sure there’s music

Make sure there’s music

It’s not a party without the tunes! If your party is inside, it should be easy to flick on your stereo. If it’s outside, you may have to work a little harder for your music. Either way, consider setting up a stereo equipped with an iPod dock so all of your guests can take turns sharing their favorite tunes.

Ultimate playlists for all things summer >>

Be prepared for kids

Be prepared for kids

If you’re allowing kids at your party, be prepared to keep them happy. Provide kid-friendly foods and drinks. If your party is inside, keep them busy with crayons and board games. If it’s outside, they’ll have a little more room to run and for some more energetic activities.

Quick tip

Weather is unpredictable. Never plan an outside party without an inside backup plan.

More party planning tips

10 Party hostess tips
5 Party tips for stress-free entertaining
Summer party planning cheat sheet

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