50+ Sizzling Summer Backyard Party Ideas

Try one of our fun, festive themes for your next backyard bash. Snag recipe and decor ideas for a patriotic party, a tropical fete, an outdoor movie night and a boozy barbecue.

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Theme: Throw a Patriotic Party

Take a cue from Uncle Sam and host a vintage county fair-themed Fourth of July party complete with vintage-inspired decor and throwbacks to classic American foods. Serve and display a buffet of hot dogs, burger sliders, handheld apple pies and soda pop. Top off the table with a patriotic pennant banner.

SEE MORE: Throw a Vintage County Fair-Inspired Party

Welcome With a Wreath

To create a bandana wreath, simply fold a bandana in half and cut along the fold. Take a wire wreath frame and wrap the halved bandanas around the frame, looping them through themselves. For a festive theme, fill two thirds of the frame using blue bandanas and alternate red and white bandanas on the remainder of the wreath.

SEE MORE: Ring in the 4th of July With 8 Budget-Friendly Party Ideas

Light It Up With Mason Jar Lanterns

When the sun starts to set, you may want a little extra light while you wait for fireworks. Create these glowing star jars by placing star stickers on the outside of a clean mason jar. Use a sponge to apply white acrylic paint in a thin, even layer over the whole jar. Once dry, peel off the stickers to reveal the clear stars underneath. Light a candle in the jar and enjoy a mason jar full of twinkling stars!

Make a Bandana Banner

Forgo the plastic and create a pennant banner that is as unique as it is beautiful. Just fold two bandanas in half to create triangle shapes and tie together at the corners. Add as many bandanas as you like, and when you’re all done, simply untie and repurpose or store away for your next party!

SEE MORE: Ring in the 4th of July With 8 Budget-Friendly Party Ideas

Set the Table

Americana colors + a few nautical nods = a winning setting for any summer soiree. For a traditional look that feels fresh, set your table with a mix of new and old items while keeping the focus on the tried-and-true: red, white and blue.

SEE MORE: Party Patriotically With a Red, White + Blue Backyard Bash

Grill Cheeseburger Sliders

Give your cheeseburgers a little twist by making these mini bacon and ranch cheeseburgers.

GET THE RECIPE: Bacon and Ranch Cajun Baby Cheeseburgers

Set Up a Gourmet Potato Chip Buffet

Help guests satisfy their salty tooth with a serve-yourself snack station stocked with kettle chips, savory seasonings and gourmet toppings.

GET THE HOW-TO: How to Set Up a Self-Serve Potato Chip Bar

Serve Frozen Fruit Sundae Cones

Spoon frozen mixed berries into small cones for a fun twist on the traditional ice cream cone. Top with whipped cream and a cherry for a hand-held sundae boasting healthy and colorful ingredients.

Make Patriotic Ice

Freeze strawberries and blueberries in ice trays for a splashy addition to your party punch.

SEE MORE: Easy Fourth of July Entertaining Ideas

Bake Pie Pops

Make this classic American dessert the center of attention. Place the sticks in floral foam, and display the miniature pies in a basket for an easy, portable treat.

GET THE RECIPE: Pie Pops Recipe

Top Fruit With Cookie Stars

Put a healthy spin on dessert by filling a small ramekin with fresh juicy berries and star-shaped sugar cookies.

Whip Up This Chocolate-Cherry Cake

If you’re looking for a carefree summer dessert, then look no further! This recipe takes only minutes to assemble, and it’s ideal for potlucks and picnics. Its 13x9 casserole size serves more than a dozen people, and rich chocolate cake with tart cherry pie filling is a crowd-pleasing combination. Top with whipped cream or serve with scoops of ice cream when summertime temperatures soar.

GET THE RECIPE: Easy Summer Dessert Idea: Chocolate-Cherry Dump Cake

Freeze Some Red, White & Blue Pops

The icy sweet treats are perfect for an outdoor summer soiree. You can make your own Fourth-of-July-style pops by pouring red or blue fruit juices into freezer trays.

Set Up a Fun Photo Booth

For an easy and budget-friendly photo backdrop idea, cut strips from red, white and blue plastic tablecloths, and tie to PVC piping in layers. Provide fun props from the dollar store so guests can take fun photos.

SEE MORE: Easy Fourth of July Entertaining Ideas

Flameless Firecracker Favors

Kids and adults alike will love playing with party crackers filled with their favorite treats. Make your own using toilet paper tubes, glue and crepe paper.

GET THE HOW-TO: How to Make Flameless Party Crackers

Theme: Bring the Island to You

No vacation? No problem. Bring the beach to your own backyard by hosting a coastal-themed party. Use tropical decor like starfish, seashells, beach umbrellas and coconuts. And don’t forget to serve up some tipsy island sips like this pineapple agua fresca.

GET THE RECIPE: Tipsy Tropical Agua Fresca

Healthy Handhelds

Give kids a healthy alternative to ice cream by letting them serve themselves fruit inside of waffle cones. For a no-mess approach, protect your table surface with a table cloth or runner, then set the waffle cones into plastic ice cream cone stands. Let the kids fill up their cones with their favorite fruits, then enjoy their creations at the table.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

You might not be able to roast a pig, but you can make these delicious pull-apart pork sandwiches from Kimberly’s Simply Southern.

GET THE RECIPE: Pulled-Pork Sandwiches

Take a Dip

Fill up a tray of ready-to-eat veggie dippers. Simply fill the bottom of plastic cups with ranch dip and pack with carrot and celery straws.

Watermelon Mango Salsa

Make a quick, easy and refreshing salsa by dicing up watermelon and mango and combining in a bowl. Finish it off by mixing in some diced red onion, green peppers, lime juice, cilantro and salt. Serve alongside blue corn chips for a beautifully seasonal appetizer.

SEE MORE: 6 Out-of-the-Box Ways With Watermelon

DIY Coconut Snow Cones

Make your own snow cones at home! Blend up ice cubes to make DIY shaved ice, then top with coconut-lime syrup and your favorite fruits. Finish with a tropical umbrella.

Freeze Fruity Ice Cubes

Add a sweet element of surprise to water or lemonade by freezing strawberry halves in water. Once frozen, the cubes’ flavor adds a kick to your drinks and also brings another decorative layer to your tablescape.

Flowers & Fizz

Use washi tape to attach colorful paper straws stuffed with flashy paper flowers to old-school glass soda bottles.

Summer Watermelon Slush

Cut the end off of a watermelon and scoop out the flesh. Cut the fruit into cubes, arrange on a baking sheet, and place them into the freezer. Once frozen, combine watermelon, 1/4-cup water, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of honey and ten mint leaves in a blender and blend away. Pour the slush back into the watermelon rind and garnish with a mint leaf for sweet, minty bliss.

SEE MORE: 6 Out-of-the-Box Ways With Watermelon

PVC Cactus Planter

In just a few short steps, turn your backyard or pool area into a summer oasis with this funky PVC-pipe planter.

GET THE HOW-TO: No Pokes About It: Create a PVC Cactus Planter

Create a Flag Banner

Colorful bunting is a simple way to decorate for your summer party. Download and print the template onto sheets of colorful card stock, cut and connect each one with brads. Downloadable Flag Template>>

Easy Sand Centerpieces

Sand meets ultra-gorgeous flower for a DIY centerpiece idea that's truly just as easy as it is beautiful. Cluster a few flower-and-sand creations together; add in tea light candles and you'll have a dreamy summer centerpiece.

Break Out the Water Hose

Set up a summer version of corn hole where players toss wet sponges instead of corn-feed bags.

Do the Hula (Hoop)

Hula hoops are a blast at any age. Set up a grab-n-go hoop stand and let the fun begin!

Set Up a Spray Station

Safety first! Provide a tub full of sunscreen, bug spray and other essentials.

Host an Outdoor Movie Night

Transform your backyard into an open-air movie theater with this easy DIY screen made from PVC pipes and a white sheet.

GET THE HOW-TO: How to Make an Easy DIY Outdoor Movie Screen

Set Up a Popcorn Bar

Always a crowd pleaser, popcorn is a budget-friendly way to feed a big group. Add gourmet toppings to take this oh-so-munchable snack to the next level.

GET THE HOW-TO: Treat Guests to a Self-Serve Popcorn Bar

Mobile Vessel

DIY paper cone popcorn vessels allow guests to walk around freely and keep themselves fed as they mingle.

DIY Drink Bucket

Entertain on the cheap by turning an inexpensive galvanized bucket into a bright, chic drink receptacle, perfect for summer parties. Just tape off the areas you don't want to paint and use large stickers to spell out the word 'drink' across the front. Give the entire bucket a couple of coats of spray paint (we used the color Gloss Seaside), let dry and peel back the tape and stickers to reveal your party-worthy new beverage chiller.

Picnic + Pillows

Pack a picnic and pile pillows onto a large comfy quilt for the ultimate outdoor viewing experience.

DIY Signage

Make simple signs to add a bit of fun to your outdoor movie theater. Install in your existing planters for decor that's easily removable.

Repurpose Outdoor Furniture

Turn outdoor furniture into cozy theater seats.

Tents for Tots

Set up cute tents where little ones can "camp out" during the movie.

More Salty Snacks

Handheld foods like pretzels are easy crowd-pleasers. Serve with individual cups of cheese dip for extra yumminess.

S'mores On a Stick

Pre-make s'mores by holding skewers of marshmallows over a flame, then dip them in chocolate and sprinkle graham cracker crust on top. The bite-size snack will offer guests the taste of the outdoor classic without the need to prepare them over a fire.

Host a Boozy Beverage Party

Throw a fun, casual beer-tasting (or adult beverage of choice) party. Serve different types of beer in small glasses. Then, ask guests to share their observations and try to guess the brand on tasting cards. Download Beer Tasting Cards>>

String Up Some Fun

These clever DIY red solo cup lights are super-easy to make. Simply cut an X through the bottom of the cup with a utility knife, then pull the small bulbs of the string of lights through the hole.

Serve Boozy Bourbon + Peach Smash

Just one sip and you'll agree: Bourbon + peach = a match made in cocktail heaven. Best of all, this not-too-sweet summery sip is a snap to make by macerating the fruit overnight for a perfectly peachy syrup.

GET THE RECIPE: Boozy Bourbon + Peach Summertime Smash

Make Southern Hot-Dipped Chicken

Try Kimberly Schlapman’s sizzling menu for your next backyard party, featuring southern recipes for hot-dipped chicken, cool cucumber salad and Georgia caviar. You’re sure to please the crowd at your next summer gathering with these recipes.

GET THE RECIPES: Simply Southern Recipes

Set Up a Walking Taco Station

This tacos-in-a-bag is easy, delicious and minimizes the number of dishes you have to tackle after the party.

GET THE HOW-TO: Walking Tacos

Light Up the Night

Put empty booze bottles to good use. These beautiful citronella bottle torches take less than 10 minutes to make and do a great job of keeping away those pesky bugs.

GET THE HOW-TO: Turn Old Glass Bottles Into Citronella Torches

Cork Wine Glass Charms

No more mixing up wine glasses when you’re entertaining friends and family. Slice a wine cork horizontally into 1/4-inch-thick round sections, then paint each section a different color. (We painted half of each cork section for a color-blocked effect.) Insert a screw eye into each section, then add a wine charm ring. Buy a pack of 100 wine charm rings on Amazon.

Whip Up Boozy Brownie Bites

Top brownies with vodka-infused chocolate buttercream frosting and a boozy cherry for a grown-up twist on a classic treat.

GET THE RECIPE: Boozy Cherry Bomb Brownies

And Spiked S'Mores Pie

Bourbon, chocolate ganache and marshmallow meringue? Yes, please. A splash of booze gives this pie its bold flavor, but feel free to leave it out since it doesn't change the consistency of the ganache.

GET THE RECIPE: Spiked S'mores Pie Recipe

Tipsy Ring Toss

Fill an old crate with empty bottles for an easy ring toss game you can drink to.

Mini Wine Bottle Favors

Mini champagne bottles make adorable adult-only favors. Wrap each bottle with a rectangle of printable scrapbook paper and add a personalized tag to the front. Just download our templates and add your text using word processing software. And don't forget the paper straw!

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