Picture the pinnacle of summer parties: glass of ice-cold Pimms in hand, the smoky scent of barbecues in the air, and colleagues and friends mingling in the sun. A great location and beautiful venue go a long way towards making your event stand out, but there's still work to do to make it really pack a (rum) punch.
We can't promise to control the weather, but we can absolutely get the ball rolling on the rest of the preparations to make sure your summer party is as magical and memorable as possible. From made-on-the-spot, delicious ice lollies, to aerial acrobats and barbecue boffs, allow us to brighten your planning process with 10 fun ideas for a stand-out summer party!
1. Serve up a gourmet barbecue
It wouldn't be much of a party without some stellar food and drink on the menu - and we're talking professionally-cheffed barbecues, rather than bowls of crisps here (though chips and dips are welcome too)! Why not go the whole hog and serve up a seriously impressive barbecue, complete with sausages, gourmet burgers, and sophisticated salads, all prepared and beautifully-presented by your own chef team. Easy Gourmet provide on-site barbecue meals, so you can leave the fire-lighting to them and enjoy the delicious food!
Remember to make sure you've catered for dietary requirements for all your guests - a party's only a party if everyone can join in.
2. Make your drinks magical
When it comes to drinks, you can really push the boat out with a summer party: think frozen cocktails, alcoholic mist infusions, and intriguing serving options - we've seen any number of fantastical creations, from beer bottles kept cool in claw-footed bathtubs, to Sangria served from giant decanters. You could even serve drinks on floating trays, which have the dual benefit of adding some 'mystical' intrigue to the event, and keeping cold drinks cool!
If you're going with a theme for your party, why not tie in the drinks, and come up with a special menu of unforgettable cocktails, mocktails, and coolers to enjoy throughout the day? Top tip: jam jars and hollowed fruit make fun alternatives to plastic cups, and they're much better for the planet!
3. Roll up to the ice cream van
If there's one thing we've learnt, even adults get wide-eyed when you bring out the treats at parties, and in summer you can tap into the ice-cream frenzy - and bring it up a notch or two! What's better than an ice cream van, we hear you ask. Well, roll up and we'll give you our 99 cents!
How about ice cream, freshly whipped up in front of guests' eyes, from a fabulously decorated nitrogen-powered cart? Sixth Sense's ice cream factory does just that, with a whole host of flavours, toppings, and added extras (including alcoholic tipples) for guests to choose from. With 3000 flavour combinations, it's up to your guests to decide what's on the menu - and each one can choose a totally unique option!
Or, opt for build-your-own ice lollies, with liquid nitrogen technology freezing guests' bespoke creations faster than you can say "A fresh, fruity flavour burst, please", guests will get to watch their dream dessert being mixed by master confectioners, before getting to enjoy a totally bespoke and refreshing treat. If you're organising a work party or product launch, you could even stick to your company or brand colours to make the lolly love go even further!
4. Shake up the conversation with circus performers or sax players
Whatever happens, entertainment isn't an area you want your party to be lacking in. It doesn't need to be front and centre, but having some eye-catching, uplifting performances from musicians or magicians makes a big difference to the overall vibe of your event, and helps to break the ice among colleagues and clients.
If you're looking for some background entertainment, you can't go wrong with a musical ensemble, or even something a little bolder, like aerial artists or circus performers to stir up some intrigue in the crowd. Or to get your guests interacting with each other, why not focus part of the event on a performance, like a comedian or saxophonist to serenade your guests and really give your event a party atmosphere!
5. Get your party in high spirits with some sweet complimentary drinks
If you want to take things a step further and cement your summer party in the minds of your guests, how about giving them a little boost with Complimentary Drinks, a totally unique duo who serve up free confidence boosts to guests throughout the event? They even come dressed for the part! While your mixologists are mixing up tasty tipples, these two bubbly performers will be charming your guests into having a wonderful time.
6. Give your guests a taste of Hollywood
Who wouldn't want to be papped soaking up the sun in their finery? In fact, it would be an absolute waste of the power of midsummer golden hour not to have professionals to snap the prettiest pictures of your event. If you're going for a fancy event in a tip-top venue, you might want to bring in pros like Say Fromage to get a beautiful video made of the day, so that you can soak up the vibes from your summer do when we're back in chilly December!
And take it form us - nothing gets guests quite so excited as a photo booth with printable photos to take home and treasure! Why not opt for a classy makeover on the traditional variety, and bring onboard the hand-built, old-fashioned cameras from Smartpics, which are guaranteed to make guests feel like they're basking in old Hollywood glamour!
7. Send guests home with a sweet souvenir
On the note of take-home treasures, giving guests a memento of the event to take away with them is a great way to wrap up a fabulous summer party. In the interests of sustainability, we recommend steering clear of plastic freebies and one-time-use items like novelty hats (as fun as they can be). Instead, why not channel some old school Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang vibes, and give out paper bags of old-fashioned sweets to guests as they leave? They'll be delighted to have something to munch on on the way home (hopefully not in a flying car), and they'll have some sweet memories of your event!
8. Go all out on a sensational summer theme
Part of the fun of planning a party is that you can cut loose from the formal arrangements of other events, and bring in the bold, brilliant themes that are what makes events stand out. We're all for going all-in on fun ideas, from staging a beach-themed event with beach balls, life guards, and coconut drinks containers - this is your time to have a ball with colleagues, after all, so you may as well make the most of it!
If you're not sure where to start we recommend checking out Pinterest for this one, and finding a theme that fits your event, whether that means tropical plants everywhere, a festival theme (minus the mud), or a quick trip to the sunny climes of Hawaii.
9. Set up a backyard cinema
A trip to the cinema might not be your typical office summer party, but do it right and it'll go down in the party Hall of Fame. We're talking a full-on outdoor screen, street food, popcorn - and maybe even some incredible alcohol-infused candyfloss (you heard us right!) to accompany your choice of film. With beanbags or deckchairs for your colleagues to relax in, and fun decorations designed around your theme, an outdoor cinema is a trip down memory lane, and is sure to give your guests a fun and novel experience.
10. Show your green side
With all these fabulous options for a seriously sensational summer party, it's important not to lose sight of sustainability. Luckily it's cool to show your guests that you care about the planet, and there are plenty of ways to stay green while celebrating. For a start, why not opt to use only compostable cutlery and plates for your catering, and keep food as seasonal and local as possible? You could also rent decorations rather than buying them, and use sustainable suppliers for flower arrangements and more.
We hope some of these ideas give you some food for thought for giving the annual company summer party a boost! If you're looking for suppliers to come on board to make your event stand out from the crowd, check out our tried and trusted providers for everything from catering to decorations and entertainment. Happy partying!