These 7 outdoor party ideas are a breath of fresh air

A group of friends at a backyard pool party sit in chairs around a table of snacks; one friend is standing at the edge of the pool as the sun sets.
Paperless Post BlogGet-Togethers > These 7 outdoor party ideas are a breath of fresh air

Want to host a great party that doesn’t feel stuffy or crowded? Take it outside! There’s no greater party venue than the great outdoors, especially when you add games, warm weather, and a creative theme. We collected our favorite outdoor party ideas for inspiration, along with matching summer party invitations and outdoor party decoration ideas to enhance each theme. Whether you’re planning a laid-back BBQ, an annual crawfish boil, or your first-ever tennis tournament, these ideas for an outdoor party will excite your guests in any season.

How do you throw a good outdoor party?

Picnic tables in a sunny backyard, decorated with floral centerpieces and table settings.


While certain variables may be out of your control—especially when dealing with Mother Nature—there’s plenty that hosts can do to prepare to throw an outdoor party that guests won’t want to miss.

  • Check the weather: Summer weather can vary from pleasant to scorching to tropical rainstorms, so try not to schedule anything more than a few weeks in advance (unless you live somewhere with year-round sunshine). Check the 10-day weather forecast, then nail down a date with the best temperature and precipitation levels.
  • Have a backup plan: You may need to bring the outdoor party back inside if unexpected weather does occur. You can invest in a tent, makeshift roofing, or use your home or another venue as plan B.
  • Stock up on seating: Unlike an indoor event where plenty of furniture is available, outdoor spaces may require additional seating to accommodate everyone. Bring out chairs from your home or purchase extra seating from a home goods store. For larger events, contact a local party rental store.
  • Invest in outdoor lighting: Brighten up your party space with exterior string lights to illuminate walkways, tables, and any other important spaces at your outdoor party. If you have tiki torches or other decorations that double as lighting, even better!
  • Have something to do: Take advantage of your larger party space with outdoor party games for adults and kids alike. Cornhole, ping pong, pickleball, and scavenger hunts break the ice and bring guests together in the spirit of competition.
  • Communicate with guests: No one wants to be in the dark—even if your outdoor party takes place at night. Add a Link Block to your invitation to share a potluck signup sheet, or post the first comment on the Comment Wall to ask guests what they plan to bring instead. Add a family, couple, or group to your guest list so each person gets an invitation in their inbox (at least one of them will RSVP, right?). And if guests prefer texting to emails, you can send Paperless Post invitations via text message or a shareable link, too.
Summer party invitations

Customizable designs for having fun in the sun, made to email, text, or share.

Outdoor party theme ideas

Whether you’re hosting a casual get-together or a formal gathering, a summer party theme gives your party a purpose. Try one of the themes below, complete with outdoor party food ideas, matching invitations, and décor from Paperless Post Party Shop for your next outdoor celebration.

1. Tipsy tennis tourney

Tennis rackets, tennis balls, a bottle of Champagne, and a basket of strawberries sitting in the grass.
Holding Court” by Paperless Post.


If recreational cardio seems decidedly off-brand, fear not—a boozy round robin is fun for athletes and non-athletes alike. Plus, the sporty dress code is reason enough to fall in love with this outdoor party theme.

  • Location: Plan your tourney as a backyard party idea, or take it to the nearest tennis court for a competitive edge.
  • Invitation: Invite guests to your party with a tennis-themed invitation like “Tennis Racquet” by Paperless Post. Add a dress code for tennis attire, if needed.
  • Food and drinks: Break time can consist of refreshing summer treats, such as lemon-lime tennis ball vegan cupcakes served with pitchers of Limoncello Vodka Collins.
  • Decorations: Set out sports-themed party supplies to hit the theme home for the athletes on your guest list.
  • Activities: Organize your tennis tournament into brackets as your RSVPs come in, which will lead up to the championship match between the last players standing. Offer up a mystery prize to the winner!

2. Happy campers

Left: Two people playing tug of war in a grassy field | Right: “Brat Stars” by Paperless Post
Brat Stars” by Paperless Post.


Camp is officially in session, and it’s going to be just like the old days—except now we’re old enough to drink! Whether you’re nostalgic for the first summer you spent at sleepaway camp or you just love a well-toasted s’more, a backyard camp-inspired party is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

  • Location: Your backyard works great if you have room to set up tents and games. Otherwise, reserve a spot at a local park.
  • Invitation: Send a cheery invitation like “Camp Stories” to invite campers to your outdoor party.
  • Food and drinks: A keg and ice bucket of rosé will do just fine for this throwback theme, or you can take things to the next level with refreshing boozy popsicles. Evoke the smoky flavors of camping by serving smoked ham or turkey sandwiches to your guests, or bring back summer camp favorites like sloppy Joes.
  • Decorations: Follow style expert Jenni Kayne’s advice about decorating a campfire dinner with earthy neutrals and wildflower party décor (while sipping smoky blackberry margaritas, natch).
  • Activities: Organize an afternoon of classic field day games, including capture the flag, water balloon fights, dodgeball, or a talent show.

3. Seafood soirée

A crystal platter of shellfish on a table set with a wine glass, carafe, plates, and floral arrangements.
Shrimp and Sparklers” by Paperless Post.


When the temperature creeps toward blistering levels, sometimes there’s nothing to do but head for the sea—or the seafood. Whether it’s a feet-in-the-sand clam bake, a Maine lobster roll spread, or an authentic Southern crawfish boil, get ready for a salty, buttery, one-of-a-kind soirée that feels like summer.

  • Location: Host in your backyard or invite guests to a local stretch of beach to enjoy their seafood in style.
  • Invitation: Get the party started when you send the festive “Shrimp and Sparklers” invitation.
  • Food and drinks: Prepare your shellfish feast with whatever proteins you find at the local grocery store or fish market. When it comes to lobster, you can order fresh meat and invite guests to make their own rolls or reserve a food truck that specializes in lobster to *roll* up to your event.
  • Decorations: Prepare for the inevitable messiness of shellfish with stylish newspaper décor or festive tablecloths. Load up on dish towels, wet wipes, and seafood crackers (because not everyone has the grip strength to crack open a lobster with their bare hands). Then, serve your shellfish on a platter.
  • Activities: While preparing and enjoying the food may be the best activity at your party, consider setting up a card table for poker enthusiasts to get a game started while the meal cooks to perfection.

4. Outdoor office party

Light blue online invite with a table set with glasses of Cchampagne, cocktails, and a lemon on a yellow table.
Neon Margarita” Flyer by Paperless Post


Want to take your team out for drinks but don’t love the idea of being cooped up in the bar? Invite colleagues to an outdoor happy hour instead!

  • Location: Host it on a rooftop, in a restaurant patio, or at a local park. If you’re near a lake or beach, consider making it a waterfront meeting—minus the meeting!
  • Invitation: Bring your invite to life with GIFs, text effects, and stickers in an animated Flyer like “Lemon Wedge.”
  • Food and drinks: Trade meetings for mojitos or serve refreshing frosé to keep your teammates feeling chill. You can also ask coworkers to bring their favorite appetizers to share with the team.
  • Decorations: Add branded party supplies and swag to remind everyone this is an office event. You can also give out customized tote bags, hoodies, or branded water bottles in colorful gift bags for those hot summer days ahead.
  • Activities: Send coworkers on a scavenger hunt to explore your outdoor party space—and to build team rapport outside the office.

5. Picnic in the park

Three friends holding Champagne flutes sitting on a picnic blanket in the grass, with a cheese board, plate of fruit, picnic basket, and bucket of ice; an invitation with a turquoise border and floral imagery on a green background above a pink envelope.
Via Lecco” by Lisa Corti for Paperless Post.


Pack a picnic basket, grab some cold ones, toss a frisbee into the mix, and let the good times roll at your next picnic party! Invite friends you haven’t seen all year, families on your block, and family members who can’t resist a pick-up game of softball on a summer evening.

  • Location: Backyards and local parks both work well for this party theme.
  • Invitation: A floral invitation like “Via Lecco” by Lisa Corti will excite guests for a botanical bash full of picnicky goodness.
  • Food and drinks: Summer fruit, cheese, and bruschetta are go-to picnic provisions that pack maximum flavor with minimal preparation. Bring along your favorite crunchy snacks and pair them with an affordable sparkling wine. Keep your picnic eco-friendly by packing reusable acrylic wine glasses and cups.
  • Decorations: Decorate picnic tables or your whole party space with outdoor party décor like hanging decorations, coordinated tableware, and eye-catching centerpieces.
  • Activities: Bring a basket with summer sporting must-haves like a frisbee, baseball and gloves, or soccer ball. Any game that can easily be played on the grass will work perfectly for this laid-back event.

6. Bonfire party

Even though it’s already hot outside, no one will complain about the heat coming from your bonfire party (or backyard fire pit, if that’s more your speed).

  • Location: Choose a spot on the beach or another bonfire-friendly location to host this classic summer event.
  • Invitation: Warm up your guests’ inboxes with “Bonfired Up” or another bonfire party invitation that matches your vibe.
  • Food and drinks: Bring fire-roasting snacks like marshmallows and hot dogs. For a more sophisticated twist on a bonfire, prepare individual charcuterie cups for guests to carry around as they mingle.
  • Decorations: Serve snacks and drinks using colorful outdoor dining supplies, including rainbow-hued cups and compostable plates.
  • Activities: If there was ever an occasion for a guitar, it’s now! Or bring a wireless speaker to blast your favorite tunes and let guests karaoke or partake in a talent show to showcase their musical skills around the fire.

7. Outdoor movie night

Take the theater experience out of the theater when you host an outdoor movie night. Project a cinema classic onto an inflatable movie screen or blank wall outside, set up lawn chairs, and get your sound system in order before guests arrive for the evening show.

  • Location: Anywhere you have space to set up an outdoor screen and lots of seating!
  • Invitation: Send guests a ticket to your exclusive movie screening with the “Golden Ticket” invitation.
  • Food and drinks: Serve cups of movie theater popcorn for that unmistakable theater taste (and smell!). Before the movie starts, hand out cocktails that go with your film, such as “Top Gun Hot Toddies” or “My Fair Lady Mimosas.”
  • Decorations: Set up balloons and balloon arches in your outdoor movie party space for a world premiere-level celebration.
  • Activities: Once the last credits play after the movie is over, host a trivia night about that movie so everyone can show what they know.

Bring your outdoor party to life with Paperless Post

At Paperless Post, it’s our mission to ensure people show up to each and every one of your events. Our Cards and Flyers are designed to make party planning easier. Rather than writing out invitations by hand and relying on snail mail, we’ll tally your opens and RSVPs for you—instantly.

With Paperless Post, you can choose from hundreds of stylish summer party invitation ideas as well as custom designs for a more personalized look. Then, stop over at the Paperless Post Party Shop to find curated outdoor party décor that matches your invitations. Narrowing down your outdoor party theme may be the hard part—but our invitations make the whole process fun and easy.


Browse Summer Party Invitations