There’s nothing like basking in the sunshine while hanging out with good friends in the great outdoors. Especially with the 4th of July around the corner, there’s a lot to look forward to for entertaining in the dog days of summer. The thing about those dog days of summer, though? They can be horrendously hot and humid (at least in my home state of Virginia). And there’s nothing like a guest passing out from the heat to put a damper on your shindig. Remember, consideration of guests’ comfort is a key element of good hospitality.
Here are a few strategies to beat the heat and keep your guests focused on having a good time:
1. Water, Water Everywhere
It seems basic, but having plenty of ice water (pitchers, bottled water in a cooler, water fountain) at your gathering is so crucial for entertaining on hot days. And your guests will likely need more than usual! Whatever amount of ice and water you usually bring, I recommend doubling it, especially if you will serve alcohol or iced coffee, or other dehydrating beverages. If you have an unused cooler lying around, bringing an extra bag of ice is never a bad idea—estimate 1-2 pounds of ice per person, and when in doubt, round up the amount of ice.
2. It’s Only 100 Degrees in the Shade
The type and amount of shade will obviously depend on your venue—a backyard patio is very different from a picnic in the woods—but when doing your early planning for any summer gathering, make sure there is a non-zero amount of shade. Whether it’s a picnic pavilion, an umbrella over a table, or even a stand-alone instant canopy shelter, make sure to provide at least some shade to help keep your guests comfortable. In an ideal world, seating will also be available in the shaded area for at least some guests who desperately need to cool off.
3. Air Circulation
Again, your options for this will depend heavily on the venue, but if it’s appropriate, consider bringing electric fans or personal paper fans (also a great party favor option), or otherwise configuring the party space so that air can flow through somewhere. Hot weather can feel even more stifling if there is no breeze.
4. Timing Is Everything
If at all possible, schedule your festivity to avoid the hottest time of the day with the most direct sunlight (usually between 10 AM – 4 PM). Evening summer parties are absolutely lovely (and an excellent opportunity for twinkly lights and sparklers) and are often much cooler than mid-day picnics.
5. Be Prepared to Bail
Heat exhaustion is no joke. There’s no shame in ending a party early if your guests are starting to get woozy, or no one is having a good time due to the oppressive weather. Honestly, some of your guests might even be grateful if you “call it,” so they don’t feel the need to invent an excuse to make an exit. It’s totally OK to head back inside the house, find a nearby restaurant or ice cream parlor with air conditioning, or just wrap up early to keep your guests safe. There’s always next time.
So now you only need one final tip to feel fully prepared for your next outdoor party—your guests might bring their own sunscreen and bug spray, but if you provide those outdoor comfort items, you’ll definitely be in the running for hostess of the year!
Summer is the perfect time to re-evaluate your goals, so don’t miss our recent podcast episode, A Fresh Take on Resolutions You Need to Try – 046.
You’ll also like How to Survive a Party (for the Introvert), Simple Ways to Build Small Town Community in the Big City, How to Channel Both Mary and Martha When Hosting People, What Being A Guest Abroad Taught Me About Hospitality, and Simple Ideas for How to Enjoy Summer Break With Your Kids.