GIMME SHELTER- Summer partying: Be creative and chill out

Jennifer Carroll
Jennifer Carroll Events, LLC


Q: My wife and I want to throw a party this summer, but with the heat wave we've been having we worry that one on party day could ruin the fun. Any tips for partying in the heat?

A: Throwing parties or holding events in the summer can be tricky. Just recently we did a wedding where a groomsman fainted from standing with his knees locked in direct sunlight, and at another wedding we had to take photos in stages because it was so hot we couldn't keep everyone outside for long periods. We also threw together a quick pre-ceremony drink station and quickly got parasols for all of the guests to carry. 

Summer can be a great time to have an outdoor party, but you'll need to be creative to beat the heat. Here are some fun ideas for a casual chill out party.

Have a Slip ‘n Slide party! Let's face it– when it's this hot you don't care how you look in a bathing suit– you've just got to cool down. So go old-school, and let the fun begin. The original Slip ‘n Slide is priced under $15. But whether you and your friends run through a sprinkler or set-up a giant water castle just do it, you'll make some terrific memories.

Make snow-cones. This is so easy to do using the crushed ice dispenser on your refrigerator. In three simple steps, you'll have a cool and tasty treat. Step one: Mix  three-fourths cup of sugar, two cups water, and one packet Kool-Aid Drink Mix (any flavors you like). Be sure sugar dissolves completely – you may need to heat the sugar and water first then add in the powder mix. Cool completely before serving if you heat it. Tip: You can add Vodka or your favorite liquor at the end of this step for a snow cone cocktail! Step two: Crush ice and fill paper cups. Step three: Pour Kool-Aid mix over crushed ice in paper cups. Voila! A tasty treat that's easy as one, two, three. Note: You can buy the paper cones at most any party supply store.

Plan a ‘no cooking' menu. With this weather who wants to stand in front of a hot oven? Plan your menu around no-cook items like a zesty black bean salad with crisp carrots, onions, green peppers, cilantro, and finished with a yummy dressing like Paul Newman's balsamic oil and vinegar. Pair this with a pasta salad dressed with a similar dressing but throw in some feta cheese and smoked sausages. Some beautiful summer tomatoes and French bread will fill guests up without giving them that sinking feeling. Round out the meal with an easy strawberry shortcake made with local strawberries, store-bought biscuits, or cake (angel food cake is a great choice for this!) and top with whipped cream. If you don't want to whip up your own, you can use cool-whip, but make it special with a little bit of lemon zest grated on top.

Create some shade. This is a must for a successful summer party. Remember the fainting groomsman? If you're not blessed with a big tree to relax under, you could rent a tent or go to Sam's Club and buy a "pop-up" canopy but you must do something. Neither your guests nor the food will fare well in the direct sunlight. If you can spring for it, misting tents are very cool but be prepared to spend several hundred dollars.

If partying in the heat at home is just too much then don't forget about some of the great parks and lakes in our area. One of my favorites is Sherando Lake. It has many pavilion style picnic areas that are very shady and since it's tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it's naturally cooler there than here in town. Plus, there is the beautiful lake right there to jump into when the heat is just too much!