6 tips for planning a summer party

There’s no better way to embrace the summer season than to host an outdoor fiesta for family and friends. From birthdays to baby showers or maybe just a fancy pool party — whatever your motive, let’s celebrate! To make your get-together the most memorable, heed the advice of our highly rated caterers and event planners on throwing a party al fresco.

1. Be wary of Mother Nature

“The most important thing is to have a plan B,” says Sandra DeVaux, owner of highly rated Side Street Catering in Fairfax, Va. “If you’re having an outdoor party, you’re going to need a plan if it rains.” She suggests renting a tent for shade or rain cover.

2. Consider the guest list

Planning a menu depends on the time of day and your guests. “A younger crowd will consume more,” says Carlton Brown, owner of highly rated Occasional Occasions by Carlton in Atlanta. “If it’s mid-afternoon, it will not require a heavy menu.”

3. Reserve your rentals early

Whether it’s an inflatable bounce house or a margarita machine, secure the necessary equipment rental. “Don’t wait until the last minute when things might be booked,” says Lynn Brace, marketing manager of highly rated Any Occasion Party Rental in Houston.

4. Budget for a blowout?

When comparing catering proposals, be sure that each includes prices for the food, bar, service staff and rental items. “For us, the average price for a cocktail party is between $20 and $25 a person,” DeVaux says, and clients can cut costs by buying their own alcohol.

5. Meet on-site

Brown advises meeting with the caterer or event planner at the space beforehand. “Challenges can be the size of the space, access to it, electricity, lighting, temperature control, and keeping food at a safe temperature,” he says. “We can make adjustments so that your event is flawless.”

6. Go back in time

Vintage decor items are in demand, Brace says. “Our vintage china and silverware, faux burlap linens, French country tables and Mason jars are very popular,” she says. For outdoor lighting, she says clients like shepherd hooks with lanterns for a softer look.

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