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Essentials for Outdoor Summer Parties


Most of us would agree that there is no better time than summer to plan an outdoor party…be it a graduation party, a pool party, a wedding shower, or even a family get-together.  Well, I guess you could make a case for early fall for most football fans who love those tailgate cookouts.  But since June has only just begun, let’s stick with the summer theory…ok?  Let’s hold on to summer as long as we possibly can!

What will it take to make your summer outdoor party fun for everyone?  Three things come to mind.  A contingency plan, for starters, since the operative term is “outdoor” and the weather doesn’t always cooperate.  Food and drink…very essential!  And…a theme…the reason you are having a party.  The “theme” sets guidelines for any special party décor.  My area of expertise is the décor (you are on your own for food and beverages or entertainment).

A graduation party could even be a combination graduation/pool party with a meal cooked on an outside grill.  Party stores are usually rich with graduation décor around this time, which should make it clear what this party is all about!

A family get-together means different things to different people.  Although I have seen T-shirts on TV with family names or special wording for family reunions, my own experience has been very different. Usually very short on décor and very long on food! A few years ago, my mother and I attended a reunion together.  She brought a large, framed photo of my grandfather. On the back of the photo, she had written family tree information.  At 97, she was the oldest one there and passed on information to much younger relatives that helped them understand exactly how they were related…you know 2nd cousin, great aunt, etc. To me, a genealogy lesson at a family reunion trumps party décor any old day!

Imagine an outdoor summer party that has a beautiful green lawn and lots of large trees for its setting.  The limbs of the trees are perfect for hanging large Japanese lanterns which add a very festive touch.


The weather related contingency plan, in this case is a tent!  There is plenty of room under the tent for a table with a beautiful centerpiece, lots of delicious sweet treats, and lemonade.  There’s also room for outdoor chairs and several small tables.  The centerpiece is the star of the food table.  It’s made in a pale yellow 3 tier basket with several bouquets of white, red, and pink roses with ivy and fern foliage.  Floral print canisters are used as props to carry through the pale yellow of the 3 tier basket and the reds of the roses.

Smaller arrangements of flowers are appropriate for smaller tables (or even on the main food table if your party is on a smaller scale).  Think about using small clear glass cylinders for flowers to go on smaller tables.  You may enjoy arranging the flowers yourself!  Let the colors of your tableware dictate the color scheme for the flowers.


So enjoy the smiles and compliments from your guests when they see your beautiful party setting…and hope for great weather!

by Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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