So You’re Hosting This Summer…

summer hosting tips

Whether you’re hosting on the Fourth of July or any day this summer, outdoor gatherings require a little different planning…

Since we moved to the country we’ve started hosting a Fourth of July cookout. We’ve hosted Christmas dinners and brunches (brunchi?) for years but summer hosting for a group was new to me.

I’m learning to focus on a few main things and everything else has to work itself out.

Here’s what I’ve learned…


1. Food

This is no time to try to be a Martha Stewart martyr. When you are hosting something at your house by all means, let everyone bring something. They want to help. They are so happy that they aren’t hosting this year that they are thrilled to be able to bring whatever you tell them. Let them.

This year Chad & I are doing the meats (hot dogs, hamburgers & salmon) and some lemonade–everyone else will bring everything else–seriously, someone will bring plates and napkins and cups, others will bring buns and sides and sweet tea… It’s a gift that I’m happy to receive.

outdoor seating

2. Comfort

It’s hot. And this is an outdoor holiday. So we plan for people to be both inside and outside.

It’s up to us to make sure there is some shade and some seating–even if it means asking people to bring their own chairs. We’ve got a few nice lounge chairs, and this year we added an outdoor sectional and we are also throwing in some $20 plastic Adirondack style chairs from the grocery store.

And we let everyone know that if they have any extra fold up chairs–that they should bring them. This week we’re gathering up all of the seating around our property and bringing it together at our little patio in front of the house.

striped umbrella

…which brings us to the other part of comfort–coolness–we are centering the outdoor seating in the shade or near some umbrellas and we’ll be sure to have some cold drinks & bug spray around to keep everyone comfy.

cool plan

trees// drink dispenser // thatch-like umbrella // striped umbrella


I ordered four of those thatched-type-umbrellas (the thatch is plastic so it should hold up in the weather) because we are hosting a few summer events this year and we need some picnic table shade out by the barn. By the way, if you need a bunch of picnic tables–try craigslist–we found a school selling 8 for $20 each. We’ll be drilling a hole in four of our picnic tables this week so they can each hold an umbrella. But I tried it out on the porch –isn’t it fun?! Which brings me to my next point…


3. Fun!

We want to make sure everyone has a great time, so we get out all the outdoor games and sports equipment we have. I always have some glowsticks available for the kids (and yep, even our teenage boys play with them!).

slip n slide

And it’s great to have some type of water fun for the kid, slip-n-slides are an excellent choice as well as super-soakers and water balloons–y’all have you seen these Crazy Balloons?! Slightly amazing.


And, for extra fun, I think we need to give a round of applause for the creativity of the pool float industry, I think they should make an iced coffee in a mason jar float too!

pool floats

flamingo (sold out, here’s a similar) // ice cream sandwich // pizza // smarties // ice cream cone // donut // pretzel

If I can provide a place that has food, comfort and fun, people can relax and connect.

Isn’t that what getting together is all about?!

lindsay lettersLindsay Letters

Lastly, when it comes to decor–I don’t do much–for the Fourth of July we make sure our flag is flying and I’ll clip some leafy branches from our trees. I do have a new canvas from Lindsay Letters that will go in our boys’ room–but this week it’s going to be displayed downstairs.

Since our home is already Summerized there’s not a lot I need to do besides tidy up. I keep the decor simple, so I don’t have to have a bin of red white and blue plastic decorations–everyone is too busy having a good time to miss them!

the flag


  1. Kim @ Irishman Acres says

    This is my type of post! This is our 17th Annual Party at our house for the 4th. We host around 200-250 people!! (we think, never really counted) And all we do is open up our farm, cook the meat, have a volleyball court, my husband mows a golf course into our pasture, and supply the best firework display around…. Not a lot of work, but so much fun!! Have a great 4th Nester! ~Kim

  2. that sounds like a fun time. less is always better during the hot summer months. this year it will only be hubby and myself…all the kids have other plans, and that’s fine with us. lol

  3. I bought a 6 pack of American flags from the $1 spot at Target and spread them around my house. Easy enough for me!

  4. sounds like you have it altogether for the day, Happy 4th of July, God bless America!

  5. Haha–have you tried a slip n slide in the last 30 years? My husband and I tried showing off for the kids last summer with one. Bad idea! Even more painful than I remembered! Fun ideas! We just moved across the street from where they shoot off the fireworks, so we plan on hosting parties for years to come!

  6. I love entertaining this way and you are right, NO ONE ever minds bringing things – EVER! Have a great celebration.

  7. This post is so helpful as we, too, will be hosting a gathering at our house on July 4. Thanks for the tips and reminders on how to make it a fun, enjoyable, and comfortable time for everyone.

  8. Reese Witherspoon posted a picture of her cute self in that ice donut float on Instagram last week. Of course she looked adorable.

  9. I’m not hosting, but I am bringing a big fruit salad and a dessert to my parents’ 4th of July gathering. I’m thinking Popsicles for the kids would be good too! Can’t wait for the parade and all the fun. The 4th is a Big Deal where we come from. God Bless America!

  10. I loved reading your post! I am still learning to love entertaining, and having people bring things is one thing I’ve definitely learned to do. I agree, when we’re invited to a party, we are always more than happy to bring something or things, and that when everyone chips in, it is so much easier! I also like the idea of supplying some fun! My husband built a cornhole set last year, and people love having something fun to do!

  11. Putting cardboard refrigerator boxes under the slip n slide make for a much more comfy ride. Do make sure you get rid of any staples first though. What a score on those picnic tables. God knew you could put them to good use.

  12. Real life, real fun entertaining! Thankyou for sharing! It’s about the people, enjoying each others company… Not stressing over the perfect visual of a 4th party.

  13. I love the Fourth of July!! The last couple years I’ve missed out on the fun because my husband and I ran a fireworks tent. It helped us pay down our debt and reach some other goals, BUT I’m excited to be taking this year off. I think we are going to do a small get together. Thanks for the reminder not to spend on cheap plastic holiday decor.

  14. Hi Nester
    My husband is oldest of 4 boys and we have 3 boys and a girl….all of us love glow-stick after-dark fun.
    Since you said your boys like them, I thought I’d share a super fun game we play after dark with them…
    First everyone has to get “outfitted” with glow sticks so they are visible (and they look cool).
    We then connect 5 or 6 sticks to form big rings, and we spread out on the lawn.
    We take turns as teams frisby-tossing the rings and the receiver has to catch it around their neck. It’s such a good time.

  15. long-time reader here, thank you for reminding me to supply shade! Ended up using a top-only tent for a small gathering. Combined with a low-consumption mister, it helped us all stay nice and cool!

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