The 4 Best Summer Party Ideas That Will Inspire You to Play Hostess

summer party ideas from tastemaker Athena Calderone, pictured with a friend
Mirella Cheeseman

Summer is hands down the ideal time to throw a party. Everyone is in a good mood, the weather is beautiful (no matter where you are), and there’s a sense of fun in the air. It’s really electric. But are you all out of summer party ideas? You can always throw a barbecue or pool party, but they’ve become everyone’s go-to now. And when it comes to being the hostess with the mostess, you want to stand out from the pack like tastemaker Athena Calderone. You only need to see her swoon-worthy dinner party at her Hamptons house complete with twinkle lights and lavender garland to understand why. If you need a little inspiration, never fear: We’ve rounded up four unique themed summer soirées that are easy to plan and even more fun to attend. Scroll through to see our favorites.

Ice cream social

We can always rationalize eating ice cream, but it’s especially refreshing during the summertime. Take a trip back to your youth and re-create an ice cream party complete with a bar stocked with loads of flavors, numerous toppings, and tons of sauces. There are three ways to do this: Buy some ice cream from the grocery store, make your own, or find a specialty shop or creamery near you.

You'll need: Ice cream, tons of toppings, waffle cones, sugar cones, cups, ice cream cone toppers to avoid sticky fingers, bubbly to serve on the side, and an ice cream maker if you’re opting for homemade sweets.

Cuisinart Pistachio Green Ice Cream Maker
Cuisinart Pistachio Green Ice Cream Maker $110 $60

sit-down dinner

summer party ideas from tastemaker Athena Calderone
Mirella Cheeseman

If you can, plan dinner outside (bonus points if you have a pool as your backdrop). Set up one long table or a few groups of tables with elevated yet casual decorations (string lights are always a go). We strongly suggest having your meal catered so you don’t have to rush around last minute in the kitchen (it will be worth it). Use chic place cards to sit groups of friends who haven’t met next to each other—it will make for livelier conversation. Don’t forget to serve wine that complements your meal.

You'll need: Tablecloths, place settings, appetizers, dinner, dessert, wine, tea lights, twinkle lights, and a curated playlist.

summer party ideas
Sugar Paper Tiny Dot Place Card, Gold $16


Create a mini film screening in your backyard for this summer party idea. (Imitate the Central Park summer movie screenings in New York City.) Have blankets and cushions on hand so guests can get cozy, tons of movie theater-style treats for them to snack on, and even some tissue boxes in case the film is a tearjerker. When you send out the invitation, include movie options that your guests can vote on, but don’t announce the flick until that night.

You’ll need: An outdoor movie screen and projector; blankets, poufs, or chairs as seating; popcorn and popcorn boxes; movie theater candy; and slushies.

Oriental Trading Blue Gingham Popcorn Boxes
Oriental Trading Blue Gingham Popcorn Boxes $7


We rarely meet anyone who doesn’t like wine, and although you serve it at almost every party, why not making this get-together instructional? Hire a sommelier from a local business—we like A Casa in New York—and have them lead a wine tasting for your guests. The sommelier will meet with you in advance to discuss which wines you’d like to sip, so make sure you have a headcount a few weeks prior.

You'll need: A sommelier (or wine connoisseur for a friend), different types of wine, wine glasses, drink tags, appetizers for pairing, and mini-notebooks (so guests can write down their favorite bottles).

Kate Spade New York Wine Tag Set
Kate Spade New York Wine Tag Set $17

Which summer party idea do you like best? Up next: grown-up birthday party ideas

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