Move over, Halloween and New Year’s — for a lot of people, the beginning of summer might as well be a holiday! Most of us are ready to say goodbye to the chill of winter and the moody weather of spring, and a party to celebrate the season of sun and fun is the perfect way to do it.
Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but most people consider the summer party season to kick off with Memorial Day. That said, summer is the season when you can kind of just have a party any time you want — so pick an early-summer date and go for it! And when it comes to choosing activities and themes, here are eight classics that will get everyone vibing.
- Chillin’ and Grillin’
When in doubt, you really can’t go wrong with a backyard cookout. You can combine practically any other summer party idea with it, from pool parties to live music, and the food keeps everybody full and having fun. As for what to serve, burgers and dogs are perennial classics because they cook quickly and are easy to customize. However, if you want to really flex on your guests, try smoking up a pork butt, a brisket or another hefty cut of meat on a charcoal or pellet grill. Serve it up in sandwiches or as BBQ plates with sides, and let yourself bask in the praise when your guests taste the deliciousness!
- Pool Party
Bring your floaties, your bathing suits, your Bluetooth speaker, your cooler of beer — the time is right for a summer pool party. Everybody loves to cool off in the pool, and if you’re the grilling type, it’s also a great opportunity to serve up your favorite charcoal or pellet grill recipes. The only tricky part of this one is finding pool access, so try asking around to your friends who have pool access through an apartment complex, social club or their own pool. (And if you do have your own pool — well, what are you waiting for?)
- Backyard Water Park
Even if there’s no pool available, you’ve still got plenty of ways to cool off in the water this summer. In fact, it takes surprisingly little work to create your own DIY waterpark: Set up a slip-n-slide, play water balloon dodgeball, have a water gun fight or just turn on the sprinkler! This works especially well if you have kids, but it’s honestly just as good for adults — people’s inner child tends to come out when you give them water to frolic in. n
- Movie Night
Portable projectors and screens are more affordable than ever, so why not set up a movie theater in your backyard and get a little cinematic? Screen a classic comedy, a cult midnight movie or whatever you feel like (although we recommend keeping it light and fun). Don’t forget to grab a reasonably loud Bluetooth speaker or another portable sound solution, and make sure there’s plenty of seating, either in the form of chairs or pillows and blankets for the ground. Oh, and you’ll almost certainly want some popcorn, so make sure you’ve got a few bags ready to pop (or try making it over the campfire)!
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- Lawn Games
There’s a reason people have been playing classic lawn games like croquet and bocce since way back in history! (Cornhole and beer pong are a little more recent, but every bit as enjoyable and easy to pick up.) These games are fast, fun and physical without being too strenuous, and they go very well with a few adult beverages. Want to turn up the spirit of friendly competition a little? Have a few small-but-fun prizes set aside for the winners — a nice six-pack, a bottle of fancy hot sauce or a small gift card for a local business all work well.
- Live Music
If you’ve got musically talented friends, consider inviting them over for a summer jam session. A little live music can create an incredible vibe for any backyard event, whether it’s acoustic bluegrass, a rock band or a DJ! Just make sure to talk to your neighbors first, and check your neighborhood’s noise ordinances to find out how late and how loud you can go. If you’re using any kind of electric amplification, it’s also a good idea to consult with some friends with experience in live sound to make sure your PA setup will provide the performance you’re looking for.
- Camping Party
Why stay at home when you hear the call of the wild? Summer is the perfect time to take the party into the great outdoors. Get some friends together with a few coolers and find a beautiful spot to enjoy each others’ company! Working in some outdoor activities like hiking or mountain biking is also great for getting in some exercise and a little old-fashioned communion with nature. Note that campsites often fill up fast, so either make your reservation ahead of time or find some private land you can get permission to camp on.
- Picnic in the Park
Looking to keep it simple while enjoying a memorable time in the balmy early-summer weather? Grab some blankets, snacks and friends for a picnic in your local park! A cooler full of sandwiches and cold beverages is the standard choice, but grilling in the park can also be a blast if local laws allow it. Public charcoal BBQs can be hit-or-miss, so consider bringing a small charcoal of your own or a wood pellet grill with a power inverter that you can use to run it from a battery.
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We’re guessing that at least one of these ideas inspired you to call up your friends and start putting together a plan! No matter what you’ve got in the works, remember that the key ingredients are food, friends and fun — get those three essentials in place, and your summer kickoff party is practically guaranteed to be a blast.