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Create Your Own Entertaining Oasis

How to prepare for a lovely and picturesque evening of entertaining

Looking to host a summer party and unsure of where to start? Allow us to guide you. Whether you're throwing a birthday party, planning an anniversary celebration, or just want to host your friends for fun, we have some great tips on making your next social gathering a hit.

Interior designer Molly Hirsch gives us her expert tips on hosting a simple-chic summer soirèe, from the invitations and decor to the mood and atmosphere.

Starting with the concept, ask yourself, “What is the overall vibe of the party?” Is it elegant and sophisticated, playful and fun, or more casual? Once you’ve decided on the party vibe you’re going for, you can move on to the theme. Popular summer themes include wine tastings, garden parties, sangria parties, and clambakes, but of course, you can choose any theme you'd like.

Once your concept and theme are set, it’s time to think about decor — what colors do you want? What kind of flowers and place settings are appropriate for your party?

Next comes the invitation. "Invitations really set the tone for guests," Molly states. "It is essential to send an invitation that reflects the party’s vibe,” suggesting to select invites that match the event’s formality, being sure to include the suggested attire. “Everyone appreciates the suggested attire,” she adds.

As for key elements to making guests feel comfortable and welcome, Molly emphasizes that it starts with the invitation. “The invitation is the first piece that sets the tone for guests,” she explains. “It gives them a glimpse into the event and helps them know what to expect.”

Creating a good flow is another key element in ensuring guests are enjoying themselves. “The flow helps people move with purpose and can encourage socializing,” Molly says. “Multiple drink stations that are separate from the food will help avoid congestion. You can hire bartenders or have a self-serve bar — and a signature cocktail is always fun!”

Having something unexpected for guests to do is a fun way to get people interacting, and can really break the ice if people seem hesitant to mingle.

Some ideas Molly gives on this include setting up a “Wine Pairing,” which lends to having multiple stations featuring the best wine and food pairings, hosting a “Spiked Lemonade Bar,” offering lemonade with various mixers, and putting together a “Sangria Competition,” where guests would bring their favorite sangria, have a blind tasting, and vote for a winner.

She also suggests a “S’mores Station,” having end-of-the-evening s’mores with elevated ingredients.

“We hosted a party for my father-in-law’s birthday once, and at the end of the evening, we had an old-fashioned ice cream truck come," Molly said. “It was such a simple thing, but everyone loved it. They stood discussing what they would get, debated what ice cream was the best and were tickled pink sharing childhood memories. All the fancy desserts sat untouched as everyone ate their Good Humor favorites. That simplicity provided so much fun for guests.”

Sticking with the “Keeping it Simple” theme not only lowers your stress level as a host but allows you to be present with your guests. No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen all night while everyone else is outside having a good time. For that reason, and if you’d like to go a little fancier, you can go the catered route or hire chefs in the kitchen.

“There are all levels of catering,” Molly says. “So it can be a great option to keep the event stress free for the hosts. And keeping it stress-free is what makes for a great event.”

“The key to a chic summer party in a no-fuss way is planning. Having a vision of what you want the event to be and then putting together a step-by-step plan helps you stay calm, makes the event feel effortless, and allows you to pay attention to details.”