THE BLOG
07/28/2014 12:38 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2014

Styling the Summer Party: Making Your End-of-Summer Fete Ultra Chic

Summertime means party time, indoors or out. It's the time of year for get-togethers, baby and bridal showers, birthday parties, BBQs, summer holidays and just about any opportunity to hit the back yard or patio for a little fun with family or friends. With the summer months winding down in the coming weeks and the end-of-season holiday to finish it all off, there's no better time to squeeze in a few more fun fetes or whatever big event you might be hosting on your calendar.

The cool thing about parties and events today is that it is easier than ever to host them. Style elements have leapt from fashion and interior design to every aspect of life and that includes this one. It doesn't take a huge budget to make something unique and special -- just a few little details and simple touches and you'll have an event that has guests talking for years after.

After you've considered all the standard basics -- number of guests, time of day you'll be hosting the get-together, location, venue, etc. it's time for the real fun to begin. While the go-to default of BBQ or catering is perfectly fine, put a creative spin on what you serve with unique and interesting food, pairings and menu items. For example, instead of going with the usual catered sandwiches or BBQ, consider having a taco bar. Plenty of Mexican restaurants offer catering and it can be a fun summer way to nosh and mix for guests. Play on fruit and veggie trays with an update to the usual favorites -- instead of watermelon and honeydew, try a combination of exotic fruits like mango, pineapple and passion fruit.

Drinks are always easy but that doesn't mean you can't be innovative in this area either. Trendy cocktails can be easier to do if made in bulk and put into sealed pitchers or other containers and chilled on ice for easy reach by guests. Trendy beer brands iced in giant metal tubs or plastic bins can be another way to treat guests to something a little out of the ordinary. For non-alcohol and kid-friendly drinks, infused water with fruits and other treats, classic lemonade with a choice of add-ins like soda water and fresh fruit can all be a way to make party beverages a little more special.

Every good get-together has plenty of sweets, and there are so many great ideas and options to treat guests to sugary confections. Stores like Dylan's Candy Bar and Sugarfina offer stylish candy that can be grouped into candy bars, dishes and other self-serve buffets that are easy for guests to grab and snack on. Pre-made goodies don't mean you've got to go with the traditional grocery store baked goods -- there's been a huge boom in niche and startup brands that have sweets of all kinds to make parties ultra chic. The team here love Natasha's Just Brittle and Plush Puff marshmallows. S'mores become even more fun to make and eat when you've got flavored marshmallows of all kinds, just add a variety of white, dark and milk chocolate for guests to select.

With food and drinks out of the way, don't forget to put a little style and personality into the experience for guests. Pick a few colors to work around and let your creativity go from there. Theme parties can be fun, such as island tropics, classic summer picnic, etc. Or you can build on a few bright colors and add little details like centerpieces, flowers, etc. A big trend in the market has been giant helium balloons in numbers and letters, as well as balloons grouped and displayed in unexpected ways. Just be sure everything is secured -- runaway balloons might be fun to watch soar into the sky but can be harmful and damaging to the environment and animals.

Serverware for the party has never been so easy, either. Forget the usual plastic cups and forks. There are so many better disposable options. Susty Party can be found online or at stores like Whole Foods and packs everything needed for a chic and stylish party that is easy on disposing and the environment. Prints come in fun styles like hearts, prints, chevron and tons of colors, with pretty paper straws, plates, tablecloths and cups to add instant style to any get-together.

You can't forget party favors for guests! But don't just give something that gets tossed away or into the junk drawer, or pack up food in a boring plastic container. Container Store has a range of little boxes and bags of all kinds for tucking food for giveaway to guests. The take-out cartons it carries come in so many colors and styles for packing up takeaway treats, candy, etc. You can also put whatever beer or soda items you offered during the day into a giveaway bag. Journals make a great party favor. Leuchtturm 1917's new neon collection is amazing for any age. Tuck a handwritten thank you note in the inside jacket and wrap with a ribbon for each guest.

To see more styling, entertaining and living ideas and tips, check out this month's edition of Condiment magazine at getcondiment.com.

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