Summer parties are a great way to make the most of summertime by spending some time with friends and family.

Are you stuck on getting started or do you have some summer entertaining dilemmas? If so, check out these eight summer entertaining tips to make the planning go a little bit smoother.

8 summer entertaining tips

the decor

1. theme it

Everyone loves a good theme party; this summer, think beyond the typical summer party for kids and throw a theme party. Break out the leis and tiki torches for a backyard beach luau, or turn your house into a summer camp by setting up an arts and crafts station. Invite a clown and face painter for your own home circus, or set up a campfire for a camping theme and make some s’mores.

2. add a splash of color

Let everyone know this isn’t any ol’ pool party from the moment they walk in by dyeing your pool an exotic color such as red, green or even icy blue. Sold online or at any pool supply store, these temporary, non-toxic and non-staining pool dyes will help set the mood for a festive good time.

3. let it snow

Up the cool factor at your next kid’s party by renting a professional quality sno-cone machine. Not only will it keep the kids cool and refreshed, but they will have so much fun creating their own custom-flavored sno-cone, or drinking a (virgin) piña colada or strawberry daiquiri just like mom and dad.

the food

4. ice cream Rx

With hot days on the horizon, rejuvenate your little ones with fun ways to serve ice cream! Prepare individual servings in advance – just soften the ice cream and scoop into a muffin tin with all the fixin’s and put it back in the freezer. Looking for a fun how-to? The kiddos will delight in dinner for dessert with our spaghetti ice cream. You can even make layered ice cream pops – use Dixie cups to layer ice cream and favorite “toppings” in advance, then freeze for the kiddos to eat at a later time.

5. serve fun finger foods

If you’ve ever tried to herd a large group of kids, you know that getting everyone settled for a formal meal is next to impossible. Instead, make sure all your food is either bite-sized or made for eating on the go, such as hotdogs, sliders and chicken skewers. In fact, you can make almost anything into a finger food with a little imagination and plenty of toothpicks; try slicing watermelon into edible spears, or baking macaroni and cheese into muffin cups.

6. keep it cool

To keep those summer salads refrigerator-safe, use an ice bath. Just take a bowl larger than the one you are serving your salad in and add ice and a bit of water. The bath will keep your salads from turning into a salmonella outbreak.

the practical stuff

7. make cleanup easy

Leaving wet towels out to dry can transform a backyard oasis into a campground for wild gypsies. Avoid the eyesore by using a household ladder as an outdoor towel rack. After the kids finish their water activities, simply hang towels on the rungs like a makeshift clothesline—your linens will dry in a flash.

8. chalk it up for the ants

Irksome ants are the worst kind of picnic pariah. Try deterring these party-crashing pests by using chalk. Place large chunks of sidewalk chalk into a resealable baggie, then smash into fine dust with a hammer or meat tenderizer. Sprinkle the dust around the perimeter of your outdoor soiree to keep your sandwiches and lemonade ant-free.

Cheryl Says

Find dishes you can make ahead so you’re not rushed hours before the party!