Summer Party Planning

At Blue Velvet, we are big believers in finding a reason to celebrate every day.  Whether you are planning a big fabulous party or a couple of informal get-togethers, entertaining should be as much fun for the host as it is for the guests. Summer party planning should be fun and effortless so you can enjoy it too with your guests.

Make your parties fabulous and fun by reading on.

Regardless if you are taking a couple of days off between Christmas and New year or vacationing the whole month, planning a staycation or heading to the seaside, South African summer means its outdoor party season.  We want to let our hair down and have a good time with friends and family.


Transform your pool party, lunch or dinner into something special by upping the visual impact when your guests first arrive.  They old saying “first impressions count” holds true for your party too.  When they walk in and go “wow” this looks amazing.  Something happens – your guests are transported into the theme and spirit of the evening instantly, leaving the real world behind.

Be bold and adventurous.  Having a theme makes it easy to up the visual ante.  It also makes it more fun in the planning and execution.  Your creative side kicks in.  So, decide on your theme, look & feel and take stock of what indoor decor you have that you can take outside and have fun decorating with them.

Themes can be colours, topics, countries, music, just about anything.


You need to think about how you will use your space beforehand.  Consider if you would like your guests to be seated at a single table, tables, or an informal cocktail style, and dress them accordingly.

Don’t be afraid to move furniture around.  We have done functions in homes and the weather was so beautiful we relocated the lounge and dining areas outside – coffee tables, ornaments, the whole shooting match.  The reaction was surprise and delight.

A lovely brunch, lunch or dinner can be created by bringing a little bit of Italy home.  Set up a long table in the garden under umbrellas or in the shade.  Fairy lights in the trees for the evening.  Use glass jugs with a few flowers and greenery for the tables and jugs of wine.

For a more formal sit-down function, it’s always nicer to use cloth napkins.

For an informal cocktail set up, a seating guide is to have enough informal seating for approximately 50% of the guests as they will not all be sitting at the same time.   Paper napkins are fine here too, have fun and colour co-ordinate them or choose a theme appropriate design.

Arrange your silverware in inviting containers and add colour to the table.  It’s not a wedding so you need not go overboard with the flowers.  And when you want conversation to flow, you want flowers that don’t obstruct the view.

Your centerpieces can be simple small containers with a single gerbera daisy, protea or greenery.  Single containers spaced or groupings of 3 made up of varying heights and a candle look lovely.

If you have loose rugs, take them outside too, or throw down a couple of picnic blankets on the lawn with scatter cushions.  It’s visually appealing and always a winner.


If you’re planning a party that will continue into the evening, or an evening function, there is nothing to beat strands of small, clear lights woven through trees, shrubs and fences.  These fairy lights are inexpensive, readily available in varying lengths and colours, although our favourite is white.  If there is one thing, we recommend that you keep on hand for parties, it’s to have a couple of strands in the cupboard.  They add a certain “je ne sais quoi” to any function.  We recommend you choose the battery powered lights so there is no restriction when it comes to where you want to place them.

It really makes your visual pop. They are versatile, and can be thread through flowers on the table, piled into a vase (no water) or draped to create a curtain of light along a wall.  If there is wind in your area, they can be a great substitute for candles.

On the topic of candles, the traditional source of party lighting, their flickering light adds a lovely ambiance.   We love a combination of pillar and tea light candles in votives in groupings.  If wind is a concern, to prevent them being blown out and dripping all over your tablecloths and other surfaces, use hurricane lanterns or long vases.

The old wives’ tale of placing your candles in the freezer before using them so that they last longer, and drip less, is true.


Living in the world of social media, add a fun photo booth area with props aligned to your theme.  Everyone can share their images and you will all have great memories to look back on remembering a fabulous summer party.


December is family time and if your guests include children, make them feel welcome.  A table just for the kids is a good idea, cover it with white butcher or brown paper, have crayons available.  They’ll know what to do!

Children also prefer plainer food so ordering in pizza or setting up a hot dog or burger station will most likely be met with smiles of delight.

Dressing up the kids table also makes them feel special and part of the fun.


When it comes to the food, if you are planning a daytime party with a grazing table or buffet set up, choose dishes that serve well at room temperature.  Also take note of how the sun moves.  You don’t want to set up in the shade, only to have your table in full sun a few hours later.

In South Africa flies can be a nuisance.  Make use of dishes that have covers, netting or burn citronella candles.  A few years ago, we found citronella incense which works.

Another old wives’ tale we have had some success with is half filling a flute glass with water and dropping in a couple of copper coins.


We love themed parties because it gives you a focus that you can work from.  Suddenly it’s easier to think of the decor, type of food, drinks and entertainment that goes with it.

Champagne Brunch –

Get the girls around for a sophisticated brunch that doesn’t require hours of work.  All you need is a beautifully set table, smoked salmon, dill, cream cheese, rye and lots of bubbles.  Light Jazz in the background and you’re transported to the Hamptons.

White Party or Pantone Colour of the Year –

With the temperatures high and good times flowing, white or once colour parties are easy to throw together and everyone can dress to the theme.  If you decide on an evening function, make use of lots of fairy lights and candles. Sangria and a light fresh menu compliment a white theme.

Tiki Party –

The Tiki party theme has become popular, probably because it is so relaxed, colourful and fun.  Brightly coloured tropical drinks with fruit and umbrellas delight the eyes and the pallet.  Lots of greenery from the garden with colourful flowers make your table pop.  A trip to the China Mall for colourful garlands and grass skirts for tables added to masses of fairy lights and candles set the scene.  For the entertainment, remember the Caribbean-flavoured music and have a pole for the classic limbo contest.



Blue Velvet is an event coordination, management and tour company comprised of a team of experienced professionals designing inspirational events, activations and travel experiences for companies and individuals.

We help you build relationships, impress your guests and keeps them talking. Each event has its own distinct audience, tone, personality, and set of objectives.

Blue Velvet Events provides a turnkey solution – from concept to clean up – for conferences, year-end functions, launches, award ceremonies as well as birthday celebrations, engagement parties, unique wedding proposals and intimate weddings. All are guaranteed to deliver an unforgettable experience.