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A summer-themed party brings the vibrant, laid-back vibes of the season into focus, making for an unforgettable gathering. Whether it's a backyard BBQ, a pool party, or a tropical luau, the key is to incorporate the essence of summer into every detail. Here's how to host a brilliant summer party:

1. Lighting:

  • Fairy Lights: String fairy lights in trees, along fences, or around the patio as the sun sets to create a magical evening atmosphere. If your party is indoors, place them on the buffet tables and any surfaces where guests will be interacting.

  • Lanterns: Scatter solar-powered or LED lanterns or place them on tables for a soft glow that's both functional and atmospheric. Tiki torches for outdoor parties can also add to the ambiance and keep bugs at bay.

  • Colorful LED Lights: If you have a pool, floating LED lights can add a splash of color and whimsy.

2. Entrance:

  • Floral Archway: Create a vibrant welcome by decorating your entrance with a floral archway or garlands of summer flowers and greenery.

  • Welcome Sign: Place a colorful, summer-themed welcome sign at the entrance. Think bright colors, flamingos, or beach balls.

  • Pathway Markers: To guide guests, line the pathway to the party area with glowing lanterns or small, potted plants.

3. Soundscape:

  • Summer Playlist: Compile a playlist of upbeat summer hits, beach tunes, and tropical music to keep the energy high and match the theme.  Play this at a low volume during the mystery party portion of the night, as you need your players to be able to communicate with ease.

  • Water Sounds: If it's a pool party, the sound of water adds to the ambiance. Otherwise, consider a small water feature for soothing background noise.  Again, make sure it's not too noisy. 

4. Props and Extras:

  • Inflatable Pool Toys: For pool parties, have an assortment of inflatable pool toys on hand. Even for non-pool parties, these can be fun decor or photo props.

  • Beach Balls and Frisbees: Scatter around beach balls and Frisbees (for outdoor parties) for guests to toss around.

  • Sunglasses and Sunscreen Station: Set up a small table where guests can grab a pair of inexpensive sunglasses and apply sunscreen for outdoor events if your party is during the day.

5. Food: (some recipes provided below)

  • BBQ and Grilled Delights: Serve up classic summer fare like grilled burgers, hot dogs, vegetable skewers, and corn on the cob.  Or, if you are hosting a luau, offer some traditional luau dishes. 

  • Fresh Salads: Offer a variety of fresh salads, like a summer fruit salad, pasta salad, or a vibrant mixed greens salad with seasonal vegetables.

  • Ice Cream Bar: Set up a DIY ice cream bar with multiple flavors and toppings like sprinkles, chocolate chips, and fresh fruit.

6. Centerpieces and Table Decor:

  • Seasonal Flowers: Use vases filled with bright, seasonal flowers as centerpieces. Sunflowers, daisies, and zinnias are perfect for summer.

  • Citrus and Tropical Fruits: Create centerpieces with lemons, limes, oranges, and tropical fruits. Not only do they look bright and festive, but they can also be used in drinks or as part of the meal.

  • Beach-Inspired: Fill clear vases with sand and seashells or use small beach buckets as planters for a beach-themed party.

7. Drinks: (some recipes provided below)

  • Cooling Cocktails and Mocktails: Serve refreshing summer drinks like mojitos, margaritas, or fruit-infused iced teas and lemonades. Don't forget plenty of ice!

  • Water Station: Set up a water station with infused water options to keep guests hydrated. Cucumber, mint, and lemon are great for adding a refreshing twist.

8. Activities: (some party games provided below)

  • Water Balloon Fight: If it's a hot day, a water balloon fight can be a fun way to cool off.

  • Outdoor Games: Set up games like cornhole, bocce ball, or a mini golf course for guests to enjoy.

  • DIY Craft Station: For a more laid-back activity, a craft station where guests can make something simple like friendship bracelets or decorate hats can be a hit.

By focusing on vibrant colors, fresh flavors, and playful details, your summer party will capture the essence of the season, offering your guests a delightful experience they'll remember long after the sun has set.

Need help with party decor or want to make it super easy? 

Here is a luau decor kit.

Here is a summer party decor kit.

Here is a poolside party decor kit. 


Always ask for nutritional requirements of your guests with the RSVPs to determine if they have any allergies or objections to particular ingredients.

Recipes courtesy of the Halloween Party Host Handbook




1/2 cup Garlic bread crumbs

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 package of large whole mushrooms with the stems removed and diced

1/2 cup of cooked, crumbled sausage

1 egg

2 tablespoons butter


Cut the stems from the mushrooms and carefully scoop out the tops without breaking them apart and dice the stems.

Place the mushroom caps with the scooped side up on a baking sheet.

Combine the remaining ingredients with the diced stems and mix thoroughly.

Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture (save a little bit of the breadcrumbs for the top) and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle melted butter over the top.

Cook at 350 degrees until lightly browned (approximately 20-30 minutes).

*You can substitute the sausage for diced lobster. 



12 eggs

~ 5 oz. of crumbled bacon &/or diced ham - mixed together

1 tablespoon mustard

1/4 cup light mayo

1 pinch black pepper, salt to taste

24 slices of green olives

Paprika for sprinkling


Place egg in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, and peel.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise, place the yolks into a mixing bowl, and set the whites aside. Mash the yolks with the bacon/ham mix, mustard, mayonnaise, and black pepper. Spoon or pipe filling into egg white halves. Garnish each ‘angel'd’ egg with an olive slice, and sprinkle lightly with paprika.






1 ½ ground beef or ground turkey

2/3 cup of garlic flavored bread crumbs

1/3 cup minced yellow sweet onion

1 ½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ginger

¼ cup half and half

1 egg

1 tsp. shortening

2 tsp. cornstarch

½ cup brown sugar, packed

1 can pineapple tidbits (drained) (keep syrup)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. soy sauce

1/3 cup diced very finely green and red sweet peppers

Directions: Mix beef (or turkey), crumbs, onion, egg, salt, ginger and milk.  Shape into meatballs and sear the outside of the meatballs in the shortening that is heated to medium in a saucepan.  Remove the meatballs and place in a baking dish and cook on 350 for 20 minutes.  Mix the oil from the skillet and mix with red and green peppers, cornstarch, sugar, pineapple syrup, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce and stir thoroughly.  Remove the meatballs from the oven and place the meatballs in a Crockpot and pour the sauce over the top and cook on low until done. Test with a meat thermometer.



4 to 5 cups cooked diced potatoes

1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup light sour cream

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup vinegar

1 teaspoon mustard

3 hardboiled eggs, diced egg whites


In a large bowl, add the potatoes, egg whites, cucumber, celery, onion, salt, celery seed, and pepper. In a separate container combine sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustard. Mash the egg yolks and stir into the sour cream and mayo mixture. Cover and refrigerate both containers. About 45 minutes prior to serving, combine the two bowls. 



1 large purple or yellow/sweet onion
1 large green pepper or red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ketchup
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 sprinkle of tobacco sauce
1/6 pound of diced ham
1 can Campbell’s pork and beans


In a large skillet, warm the veggies (onion and green pepper) in the ketchup while blending in the honey, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tobacco sprinkle, and diced ham. Add the pork and beans. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid is absorbed.



4 cups of cabbage, shredded

1 11 oz. can of mandarin oranges (drained, save liquid for later)

1 ½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. white pepper

¼ tsp. ground ginger

1 cup crushed pineapple (drained)

1/3 cup mayo


Mix the ingredients and chill well before serving.  Suggested to slice a pineapple lengthwise and remove the fruit to make a pineapple boat.  Serve the coleslaw in the pineapple.






6 cups of grated carrots

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup of brown sugar

1 cup of raisins

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups of white sugar

1 cup Smart Balance vegetable oil

1 cup of crushed pineapple (drained)

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

3 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 cup of evenly chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a mixing bowl, mix the grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 1 hour.  Prepare two 10 inch cake pans for baking (grease/flour). Stir the raisins into the carrot and brown sugar mixture. In a large bowl, beat eggs until they are light and fluffy. Fold in the white sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.  Mix for a minute before adding the crushed pineapple. Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon before stirring into the mixture. Finally, add the chopped walnuts and the carrot mixture. Pour the batter evenly into the baking pans.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven.  Test the cake for doneness before removing.  Cool the pans for 25 min before removing from pan. When the layers have cooled, you can frost the cake with a cream cheese frosting.




1 part vodka

1 part Sour Apple Schnapps or Sour Apple Liquor

1 part apple juice

Directions: Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice, Shake and strain well into a Martini Glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime or an apple slice.


1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup of chocolate sprinkles

¼ cup of caramel sauce (optional)

3/4 cup white sugar

¼ tbs salt

1/3 cup boiling water

3 1/2 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup half-and-half cream

Combine the cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan and carefully add the boiling water. Bring this mixture to a small boil and stir frequently. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and the vanilla and stir. Divide between 4 mugs. Add whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles to the tops of the mugs and serve!  Drizzle the top with caramel sauce.


1 oz. orange juice 1 oz. grapefruit juice 1 oz. passion-fruit juice 1 oz. mango juice 1 oz. pineapple juice 1/4 oz. lime juice 1/2 oz. kiwi syrup

Pineapple, strawberries, orange slices, and cherries for garnish.

Shake the ingredients with a glass of broken ice and poor into a glass.  Garnish with the fruit and serve!



2 ½ cups diced pineapple

1 ripe banana, sliced

1 cup coconut cream

4 tbsp. frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed

2 cups crushed ice

8 -12 oz. rum (for adults) (skip the rum for teens)


Freeze pineapple and banana slices on a sheet of wax paper inside of a Ziploc storage bag overnight.  Combine the ingredients in an electric blender and mix on med-high speed until mixture is smooth.  Makes 4 cups (4 servings).



½ cup coconut cream

½ cup milk

6 scoops pineapple sherbet

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon pineapple ice cream topping

1 tablespoon whipped cream for garnish, optional

Fresh pineapple wedges for garnish, sliced, optional


Mix the ingredients in blender and blend on medium/ high until smooth. Garnish with whipped topping and sliced pineapple wedges (optional). 




Game objective: To be the team that answers correctly the most ‘years of release’ of the sunshine’y movies! 

 Game instructions: Pair the guests into groups of 4-5. Give the teams 10 minutes (or more) to fill in the correct year of the listed hit movies using the ‘Totally Sunny Movie Challenge Answer Sheet’ (game attachment).  When the time is up and / or the guests are finished, collect the answer sheets and score them using the ‘Totally Sunny Movie Challenge Answer Key’. 

 Props Needed:   Printed copies of ‘The Totally Sunny Movie Challenge (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SHEET)’ and answer key to score the sheets.

 Playing Time ~10-15 minutes




Meatballs 1979

I Know What You Did Last Summer 1997

Stand by Me 1986

Heavy Weights 1995

The Sand Lot 1993

Camp Nowhere 1994

Super 8  2011

Blue Crush 2002

Madagascar 2005

Nim’s Island  2008

Little Miss Sunshine  2006

Vacation  2015




Objective: to be the ultimate culinary genius by making the best-tasting and best-looking guacamole dip!

Game Instructions: Either each guest can compete individually or you can put them into teams of 2, 3 or 4.  Place all of the ‘possible’ ingredients on a table where each guest has access to enough of the ingredient for their recipe (see the suggested ingredient choices below).  If you think of any additional ingredients you choose to use, feel free to add (or omit some). 

Give each guest a mixing bowl, a wire whisk (or just a spoon), and a set number of avocados.   When the host says go, the guests are to create the best tasting and best looking guacamole dip by using the best tasting combination of the ingredients below! 

Each team can only take ONE ingredient from the ingredient table at a time - no grabbing all of the ingredients to sabotage the other chefs!!  They must return the container holding the ingredient in a timely manner before getting another one from the ingredient table!  After an ingredient is used, it must be immediately returned to the table (if not used in its entirety) or the team gets a 1 minute penalty where they cannot continue until the penalty is served.

The following are the suggested ingredients to place on the table.  Please make an announcement that by NO MEANS does it suggest that putting all of these ingredients into guacamole dip will be the best tasting!  They are to create the best combination of the ingredients that they select!  


Mayo - maybe 2-3 different types to choose from               Soy Sauce

Mustard - maybe 2-3 different types to choose from          Paprika

1000 Island Salad Dressing                                                    Salt & Pepper

Worcestershire Sauce                                                              Cooked bacon (diced for them)

Avocados (have plenty)                                                            Shredded cheese - a few types to choose from

Relish - sweet and a sour                                                        Onions (diced for them - different varieties)

Pickles (diced for them)                                                            Tomatoes (diced for them - different varieties)

Lemons (cut into slices)                                                            Limes (cut into slices)

Cilantro (fresh herbs, minced)                                                 Garlic (minced)

Spinach leaves (minced)                                                           Parsley (minced)

Pomegranate seeds

Mango (diced)

Goat cheese 

Pickled Jalapenos


Pumpkin seeds

Grapes (sliced)


Truffle Oil


Give the guests a time limit (i.e., 8 -10 minutes) to create their culinary delight.  When the host calls ‘time’, s/he will taste each team’s guacamole and judge on presentation and taste.  The best tasting guac dip wins!

Props Needed:  the food ingredients listed above - any variation of them and if you think of any to add - feel free!  Mixing bowl and a spoon or wire whisk for each guest.

Playing time ~ 15 minutes.



Game Objective: To be the first team to race to opposing sides of the pool while wearing a super saturated sweatshirt!

Game Instructions: Divide your group into two teams and give them each an XL or XXL sweatshirt. For each team, half of the team will go to the opposite ends of the pool. On go, the first person of each team puts on the sweatshirt (over their swimming suit) and swims to the other side in any manner they so choose to their teammates.  They are to remove the sweatshirt and put it on the next person on their team.  This continues until each player on a team is on a different side than they started on and the first team who gets their whole team on the opposite side they started from wins.

Props Needed:   An XL or XXL sweatshirt for each team.

Playing Time ~20 minutes



Game objective: to be the team that obtains the most ping pong balls with the highest point values.

Divide your teams into groups of 2-3 players each.  Write an arbitrary point value on as many ping pong balls as you choose to play with and dump them in the middle of the pool.  On go, one member from each team can enter the pool without splashing and retrieve a ping pong ball and then they must come back to the side, exit the pool and place it in their team’s bucket.  When their entire body is out of the water, the next player on their team can enter the pool to retrieve the next ball and so on.  Jumping in the pool is illegal (it can get too dangerous) so the players must enter the pool without splashing. Anyone who splashes while entering the pool must exit the pool and reenter the pool before retrieving their ping pong ball.

First Game Variation:  Put a colored dot on each ball and the players can only collect the balls with their color dot on them and the first team to collect all of their balls - wins!  

Second Game Variation: allow all players to enter the pool on ‘go’ and race to fetch as many balls as possible as quickly as possible.

Props Needed:  Ping Pong balls and buckets for each team to collect their ping pong balls in.

Playing Time ~20 minutes



Game objective: To be the team that can rack up the most points by a gentle putt of your golf ball to the bull’s-eye!

Game instructions: Pair the guests into groups of 3-4.  Cut out one color of construction paper in about a 3-inch (7.5 cm) diameter circle.  With a different color, cut out a larger circle with a 5 inch (12.5 cm) diameter and tape the smaller circle inside of the larger one, and repeat this process about 4-5 times until you’ve created a bulls-eye (see the picture below).  Write the applicable scores on the bulls-eye for each circle (i.e. 50, 40, 30, etc.).  Tape this bulls-eye to the deck and mark a 5 foot (1.5 meter) line away from the bulls-eye on the floor.  From this line is where the guests will putt their golf balls using the putter. 


One at a time, using a putter, each guest gently putts a golf ball (or plastic Easter egg) towards the bulls-eye.  The host records the score of where each ball (or egg) lands. Where the actual ball touches is the score that is recorded - it doesn’t matter if the ball is hovering above a higher score - it ONLY matters where the ball comes in contact with the paper of the target.  Any ball that doesn’t land on the target will be recorded as a ‘try’ for 0 points.  Each player on each team gets 5 tries and the top 3 scores are recorded.  In the case of unequal teams, you can count an extra try for the applicable amount of guests on the smaller team to make it an even number of tries for all teams. 

If the player requests a practice putt - this practice putt will not count towards the 5 tries and the score will not be recorded even if it lands on the bulls-eye. 

Props Needed:  Colored construction paper, scissors, tape, golf balls (or plastic Easter eggs) and a putter.

Playing Time ~20 minutes.



Game Objective: to be the team to get their rubber duckie to the other end of the pool.

 Game Instructions: Group your guests into teams of 3-4 and have them start at one end of the pool and give each team a rubber duck.  On go, they must use their nose to push the duck to the other end of the pool. They can also blow the duck forward.  However, they cannot use their lips or teeth to move the duck in any manner and cannot touch their duck with their hands or feet. Game defense:  the opposing team is allowed to prevent the advancement of the opposing team’s duck by splashing water either in the team’s faces or toward their ducks.  However, they can’t touch the other players or the other players’ ducks in any way or they must go back to the starting end of the pool.  They can only defend with ‘water’ and words if they wish to taunt J 

The first team to get their duck to touch the other end of the pool is the winning team.

 Props Needed: a rubber duck for each team of 3-4 players and an unbiased judge who can determine any game infractions. 



Game Objective: for your team to get the most water balloons on the other side of the lane. 

 Game Instructions: fill as many water balloons as you wish.  Designate two lanes - you decide how long you wish to make them.  You can use painter's tape to draw the lanes. Divide your group into two teams and line up each team at your designated start line. Each side of the two lanes should have a collection bucket on the 'finish' end of the lane.  Give a large wooden spoon to the starting player on each team.  When the host says go, the player will put a water balloon on their spoon and make their way to the other side of the lane, and put the balloon in the bucket.  Then, they race back to hand the spoon off to the next player. The point is to transport all of the balloons, one at a time on a wooden spoon, to the other side of the lane.  The first team to finish, wins.  If a balloon drops along the way, the player must pick it up and return to the start of the lane and start over.  Also, a player may not touch the balloon once their feet cross the start line. 

 Props Needed:10-40 water balloons, 2 wooden spoons, and two designated racing lanes, and 2 collection buckets. 



Game Objective: a luau-inspired 'hot potato' game. 

 Game Instructions: Arrange your guests in a large circle. Play fun Hawaiian music and hand the coconut to a random player. Instruct the guests to pass the coconut to the player on their left. The one holding the coconut when the music stops (you stop it at random), is out of the game. The last player 'not' holding the coconut, wins! 

 Props Needed: Small coconut, Hawaiian music and a playing source. 


Game Objective: how low can you go?  Be the player who can go under the limbo stick without touching it at the lowest level. 

Game Instructions: Put your players in a line behind the limbo stick. Two players must hold it at a designated height (unwavering) for each round - starting with the highest level, and ending at the lowest. Each player is to bend their back and go under the limbo stick without touching it.  Whoever touches it, is out. Once all guests have attempted a height, the limbo stick holders bring it down and they try again. They repeat this until there is one player left. 

 Props Needed: limbo stick and two willing holders of the stick. 



Game Objective: to keep your hula going for the longest time. 

 Game Instructions: Give each player a hula hoop. Play fun Hawaiian music and instruct the players to keep their hula going - and they may not use their hands after the initial start.  When a player's hula drops, they are out. The last player hula'ing, wins. 

If you have expert-level hula hoopers, you can add challenge layers by adding a second hula, or making them stand on one leg, etc. 

Props Needed: Hula hoop for each player, Hawaiian music and a playing source. 



Game Objective: to have the highest score by knocking down the most pineapple pins. 

 Game Instructions: Set up 10 pineapples in a bowling pin triangle. Have a couple of coconuts available to use as bowling balls - make sure you get large enough coconuts that have the weight needed to knock down the pineapples. 

One at a time, the guests take turns rolling the coconut towards the pineapples. Take a score for each attempt (you decide how many attempts to allow each player), and add them up for a total score. The player with the hightest total, wins. 

 Props Needed:10 pineapples, 2 coconuts (large). 



Game objective: be the pirate crew to pillage all of the treasure before eaten by the sharks…or be the shark team that eats all of the pirates before they can capture all of the treasures! 

Game Instructions: Divide your guests into 3 groups.  Designate one group as the ‘sharks’ and the other 2 groups as the ‘pirates.’  The pirate group must enter the pool and commandeer their ships (one of the pool mats/rafts) and all climb aboard. Split up the "treasure" evenly among the 2 pirate crews.  Once the pirate crews are settled and sailing abroad with their treasure, allow the sharks to enter the pool.  The pirate ships sail in the open pool sea with the focus of stealing an enemy ship's treasures. During the pirate duels, the sharks in the water try to capture the pirates by pulling them into the pool and off of their ship.  Once a pirate is off of their ship completely, they become a shark and must release the floating treasures into the pool for the pirates to retrieve.  Once a shark releases the treasure- it is fair game for any pirate to claim.  Sharks cannot hold on to treasures - their fins simply don’t have opposable thumbs! 

A pirate crew can win the game by being the first pirate crew to claim all of the treasure before all of its crew becomes sharks. As long as one pirate is left when all of the treasures are stolen from the enemy ship, their crew wins.  The original sharks team can win if they make all of the pirates in the pool a shark before the treasures are stolen by either of the pirate crews.  

Props Needed:  2 water mats/ rafts for the pirate ships, pirate treasures (i.e. floating pool toys, etc.)

Playing Time ~20 minutes.



Game objective: be the team that can fully dress your tourist or local the fastest! 

Game Instructions: Divide your guests into two groups.  Mark off lines approximately 15 feet (or more) away from each other.  The teams flip a coin to determine who the tourist team is and who the local team is.  Each team will select their ‘model.’  Gather the following items for the tourist team: Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, visible sun block for the nose, flip flops, floppy hat, beach ball, etc.   Gather the following items for the local team: A grass skirt, a coconut top or other top, a lei, a flower for the hair, lei wristlets and anklets, a ukulele, etc.   Put an equal amount of items on either side of the two lines.  When the host says ‘go’, the models from each team will ‘crab walk’ to the other side of the opposing line.  Once the model has all 4 limbs across the line, their team members can put on ONE item from their pile.  Then, the model is to crab walk back across the opposing line that is 15 or more feet away.  Once the model has all 4 limbs across the line, the team members waiting on that side of the line are to place ONE item on their team member.  If needed, the team member can stand up, etc. to get the item on.  If at any time, an item falls off of a model during their crab walk to the other side – they must immediately crab walk backwards to the side they were just on and have their team members put the item(s) back on.  This continues until the model is fully dressed in their attire (i.e. local or tourist).  Once a model has all of their items on – their team wins!

Props Needed:  Items for the tourist and items for the local to wear during the relay.

Playing Time ~20 minutes.


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