Party Planning Basics: Coastal Summer

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love a good party and throwing soirees that bring people together. Hopefully, if you’ve been following, you know that too! I’ve been getting a lot of feedback asking about party planning the past few months. “How do you do it all?”, “Where do you get ideas?”, “Where do I even start?”… So, here’s a little ‘back to basics’ for you.

Remember, these are only guidelines and how I like to plan, but parties are personal and different for everyone. After all, if all parties were the same, it’d be pretty pointless to continue having them! Here are the things that I think about when planning a party, regardless of the scale: First, I decide what kind of party it will be. Why do I want to gather people together in a more formal, party setting? Why not just call everyone up to come over and wing it? Typically, there is a special occasion {unless you’re like me and are addicted to hosting fetes for any reason at all}.

For the sake of this post, I’ll be “planning” a backyard barbeque to enjoy this long awaited summer.

Colors/Theme– Once I have a why, the next thing I turn to is color scheme and theme.  If a color scheme doesn’t immediately come to mind, I turn to my Color Everywhere Pinterest board. Another great resource is The Perfect Palette blog. While most refer to The Perfect Palette for weddings, you can use it for anything- even designing in your home!

Here is my perfectly summer inspiration. I love the colors and it just jumped out at me, screaming “I’m your perfect summer afternoon”. Doesn’t it just make you want to come home from a day of riding around town and settle in with good food and better people? {can you tell I’m daydreaming right now??}

BBQ inspiration photo

Guest List- Before getting to the fun parts, like venue and menu, guest list size is a must. By now, you probably have a venue in mind, but need to be sure who you want to attend before solidifying anything. Majority of the time you can assume that only ~60-80% of those invited will be able to come. So, if you have a smaller space in mind, you may still be able to have a relatively large guest list. Just make sure you are ready for a “packed house” if they all decide that it sounds like too good of a time to pass up!

Venue– For most smaller fetes, you will most likely host at your home. If it is a bigger gathering that you need to rent a space for, now is the time to research a space that works for your theme and guest list size. Some options, aside from the “wedding venues” in your area, might be parks, restaurants, a friend’s home (especially if you are co-hosting), or even a camp ground. Yes, a camp ground seems weird, but it could be done! Think outside of the box to really create a special atmosphere for your guests.

Based on my inspiration photo, I envision this on the cape with beautiful water views and that perfect summer light. Of course, that would mean it is being held at my dream vacation house!

Menu– Ok, so now we have a theme, size and space. It’s time to decide what you will feed people. If you are having a cocktail party, think of some heavy hors dourves or just desserts. If it will be meal time, make sure to give everyone enough that they won’t be hungry. Also, think about how much time you want to spend cooking. If you are someone who prefers catering, do it. If you want to make all or most of the food yourself, plan things that seem special, but won’t take you a week to prepare.

Below are a few things I’d serve. A lot of it can be done ahead of time, or at least prepped and ready to throw together in an hour or two. Also, just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean you can’t have chocolate desserts — this popsicle is the perfect combination!

Personal touches/Details – Whether you choose to hand-make your invitations, use a very personal theme or just throw in some photos of the group you are hosting– Personalization and details are what make the party yours and not just any old gathering that anyone can have. Though it’s true, many of us find ideas on the internet and Pinterest these days, that doesn’t mean that you can’t put your own spin on it.

Since I would plan this party as an intimate gathering, I’d probably purchase individual favors for everyone. These could be things like that summer read they’ve been eyeing or a bottle of their favorite Izze or brew. Maybe even some sunglasses, personalized jar or mug, or blankets for on the beach later in the evening.

Dress code- If you are having a theme party, perhaps you want a dress code. If so, be sure to include that on your invitation.  If you are planning a black tie wedding, be sure that is clear to guests. No one wants a “Legally Blonde- bunny costume” moment, right?

Now that you’ve gotten through the drab step-by-step, here’s my inspiration board for my Summer evening on the coast! How cute are those popsicle invites?!

For links to all of the recipes & photo credits for these amazing images, visit my Costal Summer board.

What kind of parties are you planning this year? Do you have a favorite theme or a party you’ve attended that stands out in your memory? I’d love to hear about them!

Happy gathering, friends!

xoxo- Jenn


2 thoughts on “Party Planning Basics: Coastal Summer

    • Thank you! I agree, it’s so addictive and I love doing something different every time. To me, there is nothing better than gathering people you love and getting to be creative at the same time. 🙂

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