Creative outdoor party ideas for the summer

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When it comes to outdoor summer party ideas, there are endless options to make your get-together stand out from the rest. Whether it’s a summer BBQ, a backyard graduation party, or anything in between, we’ve put together ways that you can elevate your next outdoor party. From decoration elements to a summer party invitation fit for the theme, here are our favorite outdoor party ideas. We’re here to help make any type of party during the summer season easier to plan.

Outdoor party ideas

Hang outdoor lights

One of the best parts of summer is the moonlit, warm summer nights. That said, a great way to enjoy this time of the year outdoors is by hanging up lights, adding to the overall summer ambiance.

You can use string lights or bulb lights and drape them back and forth from a patio or porch, or from trees in your yard. If you want to get creative you can even wrap the trees in string lights as well.

If string lights aren’t your style, lanterns are another great option for hanging lights. Similarly, you can hang up lanterns anywhere in your outdoor space to give it a warm and aesthetically pleasing summer party feel. 

Set up an outdoor bar

If you have an outdoor bar area already, start stocking up on all of your favorite refreshments and get ready to open back up for the summer season! An outdoor bar is undoubtedly one of the highlights of any outdoor summer party. From adult refreshments to kid-friendly drinks, there are a variety of tasty summertime treats that you can serve right from your festive outdoor bar.

If, however, you do not have an outdoor bar area – this is a perfect opportunity to get creative with a DIY bar cart. Choose any base big enough to display your drinks and design it however you’d like, and voila! You have your own bar cart that you can move from outdoors to indoors, as needed. Need some inspiration? Check out these DIY bar carts for your backyard party.

Create an area for outdoor seating

If you don’t have a specific area for your guests to sit, consider setting out a table and chairs for your outdoor party. Depending on the number of guests and the occasion, this seating arrangement will look different from party to party, however, making sure that your guests have a place to sit down and relax is key to a great party.

An outdoor seating area gives you an excuse to display centerpieces with freshly picked flowers either from your garden or from a local flower shop. Centerpieces are a great way to elevate the look of a party and create an inviting area for your guests to sit.

If you don’t have a table or chairs to spare but you still want to throw an outdoor party, consider the theme of a picnic party. This party theme is a great option for casual get-togethers and can be elevated quite nicely with decor to create a lovely aesthetic.

Use textured runners and placemats

When it comes to decorating your outdoor party, it’s all in the details. Once you have a dedicated seating area for your guests, you can decorate this area by simply adding a table runner and placemats that match the theme of your party. By adding these cute and simple details, you will be sure to tie your party together quite nicely.

Spruce up the water

When it comes to summer parties, whether during the day or at night, hydration is key. You will want to be sure to provide water for your guests, and what better way to do that than to make it just as visually appealing as it is refreshing. Do this by adding fruits of your choice to infuse the water.

Simply fill a pitcher with water and ice, followed by your choice in freshly cut fruit. If you are going for a simple, refreshing flavor consider adding slices of cucumber and mint leaves. On the other hand, you can make tropical-infused water by adding slices of pineapple and orange. Feel free to get creative with the combination of fruits you choose to add in. You can even set out a few different pitchers with varying flavors.

Serve festive food

From hot, pool-filled days to warm summer nights, one of the best ways to celebrate summer is with some tasty treats. Here are some ideas for the best outdoor summer food for your party:

Fresh and crisp summer salads

Salads make for a light and refreshing summer snack that is more importantly, quick and easy to make. When it comes to planning food for your party, consider making a salad with produce that is currently in season—which is quite a bit in between the months of June and August, leaving you with endless options.

Here are some recipes for a few of our favorite summertime salads:

— Watermelon, feta, and arugula salad with balsamic glaze

— Traditional Mediterranean salad

— Asian chopped salad

If you want to get more creative with a salad to serve, start with a base of greens such as romaine and arugula, and the add any toppings you’d like, followed by your dressing of choice. One thing to keep in mind with salads is that you will want to be sure to put the dressing on last when it is ready to serve or serve it on the side for your guests to add to taste. This way you keep your salad as fresh and crisp as possible while ensuring that your guests can use as little or as much dressing as they would like.

Savory outdoor BBQ

Is there anything that says summer quite like grilling up some flavorful summertime barbecue? From chicken, to burgers, and delicious seasonal vegetables, you can’t go wrong serving savory BBQ at your outdoor party. 

Grilling is a great way to feed a large group of guests and is a classic outdoor summertime tradition. Have fun with it, and add a twist to your typical BBQ by considering some of these foods to serve:

— Chicken and veggie kabob skewers

— Seafood (salmon, shrimp, halibut)

— Grilled bell peppers (with tzatziki for dipping)

— Bacon-wrapped asparagus

— Grilled peaches and pineapple

Light, mid-day hors doeuvres

While salads and BBQs make great entrees, hors doeuvres make for a great option when it comes to snacking and side dishes. Light and easy-to-grab hors doeuvres alongside your main dishes are a perfect way to tie all of the flavors together, which will have your guests excited to try them all.  Some of our favorite hors d’oeuvres include:

— Bruschetta 

— Deviled eggs

— Stuffed olives

— Baked brie 

— Shishito peppers 

Outdoor party ideas at night

A movie under the stars or a cozy bonfire are two great options for an outdoor party at night. Use them to wrap up an outdoor summer party, or kick off a nighttime outdoor party.

Movie night under the stars

To set up a star-filled movie night, grab some blankets and lay them out in the backyard. Then lay down some pillows and cushions to lay on top of. Aside from a seating area, you will need a projector and a white blanket or canvas to watch the movie on. Once you set up the blanket or canvas screen, plug in the projector and grab the popcorn! This is a fun way to make the most out of summer nights. Better yet? Movie nights can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Summer evening bonfire

A great end to an outdoor party is by getting some firewood and setting up a cozy backyard bonfire. This is a fun way to incorporate a classic summertime dessert: s’mores.

Bringing everyone together around a fire pit at the end of the night is a lovely way to bid farewell. Sit back and reflect on the day you were able to enjoy with those closest to you. 

Send an outdoor party invitation

Now that you have some outdoor summer party ideas in mind, you will want to be sure to create a party invitation that leaves your guests counting down the days until your summer-filled event.

Paperless Post offers a variety of online invitations suited for any outdoor party. All of our invitations are customizable and easy to use. Not sure what to include in the invitation? Use our templates or our tips for summer party invitation wording as inspiration.

Unikko by Marimekko and Grill ‘Em by Hello!Lucky


No matter the occasion, whether it is a summer birthday or a backyard dinner party, be sure to choose an outdoor invitation that highlights the overall summer party theme. This will give your guests an idea of what kind of event you’ve planned. It’s also a great way to get creative with your theme.


Browse Summer Party Invitations


Whichever outdoor party invitation suggestions you choose to use from the list of outdoor party ideas above, it is no doubt that your outdoor summer party will tie together beautifully. Celebrate alongside some light refreshments, tasty appetizers, and a stunning summer atmosphere.