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Tips to Plan Fun Summer Events at Home

gtcc checklist

Tips to Plan Fun Summer Events at Home

Events are our passion. We love planning and hosting them. Since we are currently not hosting events at our state-of-the art conference center due to the pandemic, we thought we would share ideas to help you plan events to host in the comfort and safety of your home. With a creative approach and smart planning, you can create events that are fun, memorable and easy on your wallet. 

Summer gatherings

Summertime is synonymous with pool parties, barbecues and other get-togethers. Since big gatherings are off the list of options, there are ways to host great parties while keeping everyone safe. Invite a small group of friends and/or family members and let them know ahead of time that you want everyone to stay safe by staying at least six feet from one another. You may consider providing masks decorated to represent a theme for the gathering as a way to lighten the mood. There are many online tutorials for DIY masks that do not require sewing. Purchase fabric related to your theme and make them a few days before your event. Consider bedazzling them in some manner for a more festive look. If you are hosting a party by a pool, use painter’s tape to mark safe distance intervals so people will know where to safely sit while dangling their feet in the cool water and enjoying a refreshing beverage. 

Have multiple food stations with foods that are skewered or items that are easily picked up like hot dogs, burgers, pre-portioned cups or plates of foods like vegetables, macaroni or fruit or packaged snacks. Set up several drink stations with bottled drinks or signature party drinks already prepared. Lay out small blankets and set up chairs and small tables all around your yard so people can stay a safe distance from one another. If the weather is going to be hot and sunny, make sure to provide adequate shade with canopies, tents or table umbrellas and set them up around the yard. Have plenty of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available for guests. 

For evening events, add to the ambiance of your outdoor area by stringing lights around your patio or deck area and set up a few torches. Light some citronella candles and place around the area for a nice touch and a way to keep the bugs away. Place small vases with flowers on tables, the deck edge or patio walls. Consider making arrangements with chrysanthemums, lavender, petunias or marigolds as they are plants that deter mosquitos. Do not forget the music! Use a Bluetooth-enabled speaker so everyone can enjoy your summer playlist.

Small family get-togethers

If you want to host several, small families, consider setting up a card table in your driveway or the largest area of your yard for each family in attendance. Have the tables preset with food and name cards so each family knows where to sit. If you plan to host a small gathering in the evening, have a firepit ready to go with seating spaced far apart and individual set-ups for s’mores by each chair and an individual cooler with beverages. 

Driveway Happy Hours

The summer season is a time for more carefree living and casual, impromptu gatherings. Do not let the pandemic prevent you from getting together with friends and having a fun time together. Invite friends over for a weekly “Driveway Happy Hour.” Tell them it is BYOC (chair) and BYOB in their own coolers. Have a variety of individually packaged snacks in a basket for each friend. Mark each person’s “spot” with their initials in painter’s tape or chalk as a fun way to make sure people sit at a safe distance from one another. Make sure to play fun music! As an added precaution, encourage people to wear a mask just in case guards go down after adult beverages are enjoyed. 

Summer event checklist

We know a lot goes into planning an event, no matter how large or small. To help you plan your event with ease, we created this checklist for you to use as a guide. 

  • Determine what kind of event you would like to host 
  • Decide on a theme
  • Select the date and time of event
  • Make the guest list
  • Extend invitations to guests. Options for invitations include: Evites, paper invitations designed and ordered online, homemade invitations, or invite via email, phone or text. 
  • Create a budget
  • Plan the menu
  • Make a list of all items needed including tables, chairs, blankets, umbrellas and coolers. If you need to borrow or rent anything, make arrangements to do so well in advance.
  • Brainstorm decorations and make a list of items you need to purchase, order or make. Gather things around your home to use as decorations. This list should also include linens, lights, candles, and flowers.
  • Make a list of paper products, serving dishes and utensils needed. Keep in mind that you want as many single-serve items as possible.
  • Prepare grocery list. Determine how far in advance items can be purchased and decide the ideal time to shop. 
  • A day or two before the event, put together as many of the dishes as possible and prep other foods
  • The day before or early the morning of the event, set up tables, chairs, food and beverage stations, umbrellas and anything else that is part of the event infrastructure. Consider your decorations and determine the best timing for putting them up. Mark spots for social distancing awareness with chalk or painter’s tape
  • The morning of or at an appropriate time before the event, heat or cook food. Place in cups, dishes or on platters.
  • An hour before the event, set up and display food on tables
  • 30 minutes prior to event start time, light candles, turn on music, turn on lights and double check that all is in place
  • Event time – welcome guests at a distance and enjoy your gathering!

Although life looks somewhat different these days, we can all still enjoy gatherings and special times with friends and family this summer. We hope our ideas help you plan great events that help create a summer full of special memories. Take steps to keep everyone safe and make sure to take lots of photos! 

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