How to Throw an Epic Lake Party
We're talking rose gold flamingo floats and big-batch cocktails.
While you may be gearing up for the start of the school year, that doesn’t mean it’s time to say goodbye to summer fun. We still have plenty of warm weather to embrace, friends. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big proponent of celebrating every last second of the season. So, how do I suggest celebrating these glorious (read: hot) last weeks of summer? By throwing the most epic lake party ever. Sure, a pool party is trendy and fun — chic, even. BUT, a lake party is the pool party’s cooler older sibling — laid-back, no-stress. The best part? Well, you don’t need access to a pool to throw one.
I’m laying out everything you’ll need for an unforgettable day. Grab a notepad; it’s time to plan a party.
Make a Watermelon Party Keg 00:36
For the best keg party ever, make this easy watermelon keg and cocktail.
First things first, greet your guests with a generous batch of premade cocktails. This ensures you’re not stuck mixing drinks all day, which is a major win in my book.
Grapefruit Gin and Tonic
Our twist on the classic gin and tonic combines muddled mint, fresh pink grapefruit and sweet elderflower liqueur for a refreshing summer brew that will prove to be a major party pleaser.
Make This: Grapefruit Gin and Tonic
The Lime in the Coconut
Made from coconut vodka, coconut water, pineapple puree, fresh-squeezed lime juice and a splash of cherry-lime sparkling water, this refreshing big batch cocktail is a summery twist on the classic vodka soda.
Make This: Lime in the Coconut Cocktail
Coconut Mango Margarita
Not too sweet — but not too spicy — a blend of jalapeño, mango and coconut milk is a winning combination. You can make it in 10 minutes from start to finish, and no need for a high-powered blender because the recipe uses frozen mango cubes in lieu of ice cubes.
Make This: Coconut Mango Margarita
Coastal Citrus Punch
This refreshing punch can be made in a large glass jug and placed in a pail of ice for your summertime gathering. Place additional fruit and ice in glasses for a fun, decorative touch.
Make This: Coastal Citrus Punch
The flavors of this festive punch will bring you back to your childhood. Perfect for an outdoor gathering, bridal shower or Sunday brunch, this sunny concoction is easily doubled and great for a crowd.
Make This: Oranges-and-Cream Punch
Lemony Summer Shandy
This beer punch couldn't be easier to whip up, and its light, lemony flavor helps cool down hot summer days. Careful, though: The Canadian whiskey packs a punch.
Make This: Lemonade-Beer Punch
Rose and Lemon Sparkling Punch
Sparkling rosè and cranberry juice give this lemony punch its blush-pink hue, making it perfect for a summer picnic or bridal or baby shower.
Make This: Sparkling Rosè Punch
DIY Beverage Boat
Make this super-simple beverage boat to keep all the other drinks (beer, sparkling water, soda, etc.) chilled as you float.
Must-Have Party Accessories
While you’re at it, stock up on other must-have accessories for the day, like stylish towels, a fun beach ball and party straws.
Outdoor Speaker + Party Tunes
Big Turtle Shell Bluetooth Speaker
This waterproof and shockproof Bluetooth speaker can communicate with your devices from more than 30 feet away, filling your yard with music wirelessly. Take it anywhere you want to start a party: It plays for up to 16 hours on a single charge, so the music won’t stop before your guests do.
How to Set Up a Self-Serve Hot Dog Bar
A mix of condiment containers, vessels filled with toppings and an assembly line arrangement of hot dogs, this station is certain to keep guests fed and interactive for hours on end.
Flynnside Out Productions
As dinnertime rolls around, set up a simple, self-serve hot dog bar. Prep your toppings ahead of time, and keep sides simple — like chips and premade dips.
Make It Easy for Guests to Grab and Go
The key to making a hot dog bar efficient is in the proper layout of the grilled hot dogs. Once grilled, lay them out side by side, placed inside of their buns. This will allow guests to simply grab their hot dogs, then top with their favorite condiments.
A Heapin' Helpin' of Chili
All-Natural Bug Repellent
As dusk approaches, make sure you have bug repellent. Try one of our all-natural solutions.
Set up games in the yard for partygoers who don’t like to swim and for post-dinner entertainment. Check out two of our DIY options:
1: DIY Tic-Tac-Toe
Make This: Giant Outdoor Tic-Tac-Toe
2: DIY Cornhole
Make This: DIY Designer Cornhole Boards
End your lake party with an outdoor movie (epic, right?). Grab a couple sheets and a projector, and you’ll be pleased with the simplicity of the setup.
Make fruity ice cubes for a summer treat that's tasty and refreshing. Simply fill an ice cube tray with water, then drop in raspberries and slices of lemon, lime and orange. Once frozen, the infused cubes are perfect for adding flavor and cooling down a glass of water or fresh-squeezed lemonade. Photo by Camille Styles
When the summer sun gets too intense, invite friends to join you for an after-dark movie night. Hook up a projector to your laptop computer, then display a favorite summer flick on a screen or empty wall. Movie buffs of all ages will love a laid-back evening under the stars. Photo by She-n-He Photography
Keep Your Cool
When it comes to summertime parties, running low on cold beverages is simply not an option. But this doesn't mean the host should play bartender all day! Keep the fun flowing and guests hydrated by filling colorful enamel bins with ice and assorted bottled drinks, and let everyone help themselves. Check periodically to replenish as needed. Photo by Hayden Spears Photography
Blowing in the Breeze
Is there anything more festive than a colorful banner floating over the table? Turn up the fun at your next summer soirée by hanging this paper flag garland across the porch ceiling or tying it to two stakes in the ground. Simply download and print the flag templates onto colorful card stock, cut out, then connect each one with brads. Who knows, you just might want to keep it hanging all summer long! Photo by Mike Bullock
One of the big challenges of outdoor entertaining during the summer months is battling the bugs. But don't let that discourage you from hosting a backyard dinner party! Cover appetizers with pretty glass domes and cake stand covers to keep creepy crawlers away and preserve the food's freshness. Photo by Mike Bullock
During those first warm days of summer, invite a group of friends over for a special outdoor meal to celebrate the season. Instead of using patio furniture, why not move the dining table right outside onto the porch for an alfresco brunch, complete with pretty linens, blushing blooms, tasty bites and mimosas? Photo by Mike Bullock
Try using tons of white candles as a quick and inexpensive way to instantly transform the backyard into a cocktail party-ready space. Light up the night with rows of flickering votives that line the edge of a swimming pool or sidewalk, adding a sophisticated and festive feel. Photo by She-n-He Photography
Life is just a bowl of cherries, especially during the summer. Download and print this place card template, handwrite guests' names on each flag and use double-sided tape to wrap the cards around wooden skewers. Stick upright into a bowl of fresh cherries, and place at each table setting. Guests will love locating their seat to discover a fresh bowl of fruit, all theirs for the snacking. Photo by Mike Bullock
Since summer is the time to embrace a carefree, casual vibe, opt for simple do-it-yourself floral arrangements. Collect retro soda bottles from thrift stores (or find cute glass ones at the grocery store) and tuck a few seasonal wildflowers and fresh herbs in each one. Photo by She-n-He Photography
Once You Pop
Put an exciting spin on the dessert buffet by setting up a popcorn bar before everyone arrives. Fill a variety of apothecary jars with different flavors of homemade or store-bought popcorn, and let guests have fun scooping up the salty and sweet flavors. Place paper bags next to the bar so everyone can take their favorite flavor home with them; it's the perfect way to thank them for "popping" by! Photo by She-n-He Photography