Hosting Tips For Summer Parties

By: Sheena Isokariari

summer parties

Summer is here, and you know what that means? Heatwaves, good vibes, tan lines, party food, and delicious cocktails! That's right, as the weather heats up, so does the excitement for hosting everything from BBQs, garden parties and al fresco dining for friends and family as often as possible. Whether you're hosting a big bash or a chilled thing, Andy Huntley our drinks expert, has rounded up his top summer party hosting ideas and tips to help make your bash one to remember. Let's raise a glass to a great summer!

1.    Did someone say garden party?

You've decided to host a garden party, great. After all, there's nothing quite like a party on a hot summer’s day in your garden. But how do you host a good garden party that won't be forgotten anytime soon? First impressions count as they set the vibe for your party, so it's always a good idea to have some sort of theme in mind. This will also help you work out the decorations, food and entertainment you want. This doesn't mean you need to go over the top with the decor; it's just about being a little creative. Try dressing your garden with extra colour by hanging biodegradable balloons or colourful flags from the trees. Or you could hang small twinkling lights in your trees or trellis, and strategically place candles to create pockets of light. Balloon arches are also a good shout and always get guests talking. You could even try a flower wall if you like the idea of an Instagrammable backdrop. Consider matching the flower colours to the drinks you're serving - think red and green for Pimm's or white and green for G&Ts, for example.

garden party

2.    Hello, BBQ season

Is it even summer if you don't host a BBQ? Grilling season is here, and we love it. We all know hosting one can be stressful, though, so do yourself a favour by getting everything, and we mean everything ready the day before. Marinate your meats, sort the vegan options, chop your veg, and sort out the grill... we did say everything, so that also includes batching your drinks, as you don't want to be playing bartender all night, but we'll come back to that later. And as having 'hangry' guests is never a good thing, try a buffet-only setup, so guests can help themselves once food batches are done. As for drink options, make sure you're pairing your food with the right drinks. With cocktails, you'll want to match the flavour profiles of your dish. Our top tips: sweet, smoky rum cocktails go really well with lamb, and palette-cleansing gin pairs well with fresh veggie and vegan options.

3.    Make fruity cocktails

Summer hosting is the perfect time to get creative and experiment with fresh and fruity cocktails. Serve up light sips and go big with the garnishes or keep things simple and try a delicious mix of fruit juice and soda water. For a more tropical twist, sangria is always a winner, or a margarita. You could even try creating a signature cocktail that features seasonal fruits like raspberries and strawberries and mix them with gin or vodka for cocktails like Strawberry Vodka Martini or an Elderflower Berry Gin Collins. And because not all your guests drink alcohol, make sure they're covered too by serving iced tea and non-alcoholic sips like Watermelon Lemonade which is so tasty. Don't forget to have a bottle of Seedlip Grove on hand for anyone wanting a perfect summer drink without the alcohol. Add some fun to the mix by creating a DIY drink station with different flavours and garnishes for guests to mix, match, and create unique drinks.

“Garnishes can take your drink from ordinary to extraordinary. They play an important part in any good cocktail. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, it adds flavour and aroma. Our sense of smell contributes 80% to our flavour perception so always try to make the garnish relevant to the drink. A good example of this is a Picante or Spicy Margarita. Garnish with a slice of chilli to add a fresh chilli pepper aroma.  It also lets your guest know to expect some spice in the drink. I’ve seen some incredible Bloody Mary garnishes in my time, from whole roast chickens to pizza slices and candied bacon.” - Andy

fruity cocktails

4.    Up your prep game 

Whoever said you can't host a party and have as much fun as your guests has never heard of batching! We're big on this around here because who wants to run back and forth to the kitchen because you're making each drink on the spot? This is why we say "batch, batch, batch", your summer cocktails! It's the way to go to limit getting in a flap and free up time to catch up with guests. The good thing? You can multiply the quantities in pretty much most cocktail recipes to create a batch version. If in doubt, always increase your batch cocktail with more mixers. Mojitos and gin-based drinks are always a winner for warm-weather celebrations, and they can be chilled in advance and served in large amounts. Oh, and remember to serve plenty of water!

“Hosting a summer garden party is all about creating a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, and pre-batching cocktails are the perfect way to ensure you can spend more time with your guests. It's also much easier than you might think. It's simple maths. If a cocktail requires 50ml of Ciroc and you want to batch 10 drinks, simply multiply by 10 (500ml). Save your empty spirit bottles to funnel the batch into, or if you want to make larger batches get yourself a large glass drinks dispenser with a tap. Pairing the right cocktail with your food can elevate your dining experience to a whole new level, unlocking a world of flavours and sensations." - Andy.

5.    Glassware goals

If you want to wow your guests and make your summer drinks Instagram-worthy, get creative with glassware – it really does make a difference! Stock up on coloured glassware like Coupe glasses for gin cocktails. Not only are they pretty, but the wide shape design enhances the aromatics of the drinks used in cocktails and creates room for garnishes like fresh spices, herbs, fruits and edible flowers and ice. If you really want to impress your guests and add some fun to your party, statement glassware like pineapple or tiki glasses will do just that. Mason jar glasses with handles and copper mugs will also work. You can easily find these in your local charity shop.

summer glassware

The roundup

When it comes to hosting a summer party planning, there really are no rules. Simply be yourself, let your creativity flow, and enjoy the process. The most important thing is to make sure everyone is vibing over delicious cocktails, and you have the chance to catch up with friends. Cheers!

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