Tips for Throwing the Perfect Patio Party (and Willow Bird’s 2015 Summer Playlist!)
I wrote this post as part of the Plugrá Butter Brigade. Thanks, Plugrá, for sponsoring this post and for making my favorite butter!
SUMMER: sitting, snacking, singing, sipping, swimming, sunshining! Every year I kick off summer with a balcony party and share highlights to inspire you to throw together your own outdoor shindig. And (my favorite part!) every year I compile a Willow Bird Baking Summer Playlist for you to jam to at your par-tay.
Here are this year’s tips for throwing the perfect patio party:
Start Your Summer Off With a Patio Reboot
It made me feel amazing to clean and spruce up my balcony for last year’s summer party. Mike and I used it all summer long because it was so cute! After our party we’d often eat brunch or work out there with the lanterns lit. I wanted to kick off this summer with another patio reboot in hopes that we’ll continue enjoying our outdoor space — but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money! I compromised by keeping one of my decor colors the same as last year (orange) and adding in accents of a new color (bright purple). Together, they made a rich, summery look. I spent a total of $100 at World Market and I felt like I had a whole new balcony!
Here’s last year’s look:
And here’s this year’s makeover:
this outdoor rug was only $20!
Become a Plant Person
This is a weird party tip, but PLANTS. Plants are a cheap way to make your outdoor space look lush and summery. And they STAY ALIVE after the party (provided you, like, water them or whatever.) I’m 100% terrible at gardening, but this year I found that Lowe’s has a whole line called “Plants of Steel” just for people like me. They’re rated things like “Resilient” and “Wouldn’t Die in the Apocalypse.” Okay, I made that one up. But you get the idea. The tags give you dummy-proof instructions like, “Water with 1 cup of water every 2 weeks.” I can totally do that! The plants have transformed the atmosphere of my balcony.
It’s Your Party Too: Only Make Foods You Love to Make
I told you, I’m a lazy partier. I’m not going to have fun if I’m slaving over a fussy dinner. For this party, I planned a simple menu based on the freshest summer fruit and seafood available — and none of the dishes take much effort to prepare. My first criterion when I’m hunting through recipes and adapting dishes is, “Will I be happy making this?” If not, it’s not worth it.
Jam to Willow Bird’s 2015 Summer Playlist
I’m pretty proud of this one, guys. It’s got an awesome mix of music: old and new; indie rock, country, pop, reggae, jazz, soul/funk; fast and slow; danceable and sit-and-sippable. It’s so good. And this year, I’ve compiled the songs into a YouTube playlist for easy listening!
- Greek Tragedy by The Wombats
- Arrow by Louisa Wendorff
- Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Video Games by Lana Del Rey
- Sun is Shining by Bob Marley & The Wailers
- Tiny Grain by Charlotte Almgren
- Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
- Wasted by Civil Twilight
- You Make Loving Fun by Fleetwood Mac
- Black Wave by The Shins
- This Life by Ryan Huston
- Undiscovered by Laura Welsh
- Still Luv’ Huh by Floyd the Locksmith
- Delilah by Florence + The Machine
- Wake Up In Paris by The Hot Sardines
- As Long As You Follow by Fleetwood Mac
- Time After Time by Quietdrive
- Windows are Rolled Down (Live with the Colorado Symphony) by Amos Lee
- Wonderwall by Ryan Adams
- Bad Blood by Taylor Swift (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
- Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey
- Look What We’ve Become by Grace Potter
- Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King
- Thank U by Alanis Morissette
- Suddenly by Brenda Holloway
- Don’t Wanna Fight by Alabama Shakes
- Midnight City by M83
- Hold Back the River by James Bay
- 4 Songs & a Fight by The Sounds
- Janina by Rosy Nolan
Hose the Party Down
It’s approximately 864 degrees outside right now and nobody wants to have a patio party in their Sunday best. Give people permission to wear cut-off shorts and bathing suits by making your party a pool party. If you don’t have a pool, please do not underestimate how much even adults appreciate sprinkler running and Slip ‘N’ Sliding along with their (wine) slushies. They even make biodegradable water balloons now. You have no excuse.
Provide Plenty of Seating
I like to create a few intimate seating areas where folks can sit and chat. Again, no need for fuss: camping chairs, picnic blankets piled with outdoor pillows, and lawn chairs work just fine. Some folks won’t mind sitting in the grass, but provide lots of options just in case.
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Get excited! In the next few posts I’ll share drop-dead simple recipes perfect for your patio party! In the meantime, tell me your favorite tips for celebrating in the summertime.