Hot summers don’t mean that you stop entertaining. It also need not mean that you have to cloister yourself indoors where the air conditioner is. With a bit of judicious planning, you can host an enjoyable summer party out of doors as well.
Is there a birthday to celebrate? Have an anniversary coming up? Were you lucky enough to get a promotion with everyone now demanding a celebration? Well then, put on your host’s hat; we are about to tell you that it is possible to celebrate outdoors even when the mercury is hovering in the 40s and humidity is on the upsurge.
- Gauge your outdoor space: If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, lawn, small yard or even a balcony or verandah area, you can utilize this to throw a party. Check how much seating space there is; how many people can be accommodated, where food will be served and if there is enough space for serving drinks. Perhaps you could divide your party between the inside and outside; people can spill over to the outside and spread out. You don’t want things too crowded; it can get uncomfortable in the summer.
- Arrange the seating: Make sure there is enough seating for the number of people you plan to invite. Use folding chairs, stools and even quilts and mattresses spread on the ground with colorful sheets and cushions and bolsters to create low, informal seating for people to relax. Borrow a few things from friends and neighbors beforehand if required.
- Check the forecast: If the forecast shows very hot weather in the days to come, you may want to postpone your party. If there are showers predicted, ensure that you have some sort of outdoor shelter or the option of quickly moving your party indoors.
- Consider a theme: It’s summer; your guests may be quite relieved if you had a shorts/casual/picnic theme for your party. If your guests are not forced to dress up and it is indicated that they are free to turn up in tank tops and tees, they will thank you for it. Plus this helps create that informal, convivial vibe and your guests will really enjoy letting down their hair, figuratively speaking!
- Plan a ‘pool-side’ do: A tiny miniscule minority may have a pool at home, but you can always make use of one of those inflatable or portable pools! If you don’t want to involve the adults in the pool activities, perhaps you could set this up for the kids on the balcony or porch or lawn so they can have their very own party alongside yours!
- Take care of the heat: Any table fan or pedestal fan in your home, extended family or neighborhood can be borrowed and pressed into service for your party. Use that desert cooler as well. Consider hiring a few pedestal fans if required. You want your guests to be comfortable and at ease, not sweltering in the heat and squirming with sweat, waiting for an excuse to leave!
- Budget for the biters: Remember, where there is heat, there are mosquitoes and other creatures out for a bite. So arrange to have mosquito coils under furniture or have a few tubes of Odomos or other mosquito repellant handy to save your guests from the biters.
- Cater for plenty of coolers: Arrange to have plenty of ice and cold water. Ensure that you have a cooler to keep the ice and the drinks cold. Remember many people will choose not to have alcohol in the hot summer so organize some mocktails, iced tea, punch or fruit juice as an alternative. You may also want to add traditional items such as chilled jaljeera or aam-panna to the drinks menu.
- Add some novelties: Consider serving drinks in those insulated glasses or the double-walled type that you retrieve from the freezer just before serving drinks. You may also consider adding some novelties such as frozen fruit cubes to drinks: puree fruit or cube it, pop it into ice trays to freeze. You can also simply freeze some berries and then use these delicious and colorful ‘cubes’ instead of regular ice.
- Plan your food with care: As the host, plan your food in such as way that there is plenty of finger food circulating. Concentrate on salads, chilled soup and other dishes that don’t require to be hot; this way, you don’t need to slave over a hot stove either! Consider having a pani-puri station or a DIY chaat corner, or barf-gola counter (shaved ice with flavored syrup)…these are great options for a summer party. Ice cream or something frozen for dessert and some iced paan to finish is a no brainer! Your guests will love this! And remember, summer is not the best time to break out that coal barbecue you’ve been itching to use. Wait till winter – there will be plenty of reasons to celebrate later as well!
- Keep the lights muted: Bright lights may add to the heat. So keep the lighting muted to keep your guests feeling more comfortable. Use shaded bulbs rather than naked lights, bring out the table lamps and create interesting light and shade areas. String a few festive lights on the bushes or potted plants. They light up the place without heating it up. Remember, you want your guests to be able to see what they are doing and eating as well!
- Add some cooling décor: Apart from the right type of lighting, add a few summery décor touches. Fill bowls of water and add some flowers or floating candles; create a fountain feature if possible. Add little summery umbrellas to drinks and choose disposable plates and cutlery in bright colors.
- And the music!: You could decide to have a summer theme for the music – summer songs from Hindi films, oldies such as ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday’ and so on, or you can decide to have some upbeat, party music to encourage your guests to shake a leg. Ensure that the music you choose adds to the party atmosphere you create and that your guests enjoy it. Remember, if your guests are singing along, they are enjoying themselves!