Choosing summer party themes might sound like overkill, but since most of us still feel off-kilter socially, having a party theme can help take some of the guesswork out of the equation.
For your guests, deciding what to wear might be one of the most daunting elements of summer party season (right below food allergies, right above running into an ex). A theme will make it easier for them to get dressed and pick a potluck dish or hostess gift.
To make it easier on you—because planning the damn thing isn’t so simple, either—we spoke to two party-planning experts about the best summer party themes.
If the pandemic has given us anything, it’s more TV time. “This year has seen many of us confined to our homes with the company of our TVs,” says designer and calligrapher Sam Pauletto. “Our showtime companions can offer great party themes.” He’s right.
Channel WandaVision and dress as either Wanda or Vision as host. Let your guests get creative and dress in the style of the sitcoms that inspired WandaVision, such as Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch, or The Office. “Many of these costumes can be made from everyday objects, thrift store finds, and items in our wardrobes,” Pauletto says. He recommends leaning into the theme with a playlist of TV show theme songs and the hits from each era.
Tie one of the biggest summer aesthetics with one of Netflix’s most popular shows. Start by giving the party an elevated picnic vibe. “Rustic-chic food presentation is back in,” Pauletto says. “Lay out fresh baguettes, bowls of seasonal fruit, ciders, cheese platters, and home-baked cakes.” To make it feel more Bridgerton, “serve high tea with finger sandwiches, Champagne, and tea cakes.”
He also recommends spreading vintage blankets around the lawn and offering outdoor games, such as badminton. For a special touch, mail handwritten invitations in the style of Lady Whistledown. “My focus when throwing a party is on how I want my guests to feel, and what I remember from special events,” Pauletto says. “Handwriting is a personal act and a treat to read after nothing but bills. If time allows, find a local calligrapher, or that one friend who has really nice handwriting and might even help with the promise of wine.”
Chenai Bukutu is the founder of wedding- and party-planning company ByChenai Events, as well as a creative consultant in the interiors space. For summer party themes, Bukutu takes it to the Caribbean.