Top 5 Summer Party Themes for 2016

The weather is getting warmer and it’s a great time to think about entertaining this summer.  Here are our favorite summer party themes for 2016.  Check out our ideas and tips to help get your celebration started including summer party invitations, decorations, food, favors and more.  While these themes are perfect for everyday summer celebrations, keep in mind that they’re are also great for birthday parties, baby showers, graduation celebrations or sweet 16 parties.

1 – Luau Summer Party Theme

Aloha!  Nothing says warm weather like a Luau.  The relaxing Hawaiian vibe is the perfect backdrop for your next party.  It’s not as hard as you think to create a tropical paradise in your home or backyard.  Here are our best ideas to incorporating the Hawaiian spirit.

Decorations for a luau are fairly straight forward: lots of brightly colored flowers, grass skirts and tiki torches.  Don’t forget to use lots of greenery.  It’s easy to rent, buy or borrow palm trees and bushes.  You can also purchase tropical leaves online which to use as decorations.  Some leaves, like banana leaves, are poular to serve and present appetizers and food.  Tiki torches can be easily found in local hardware and department stores and add an island ambiance.

It’s easy to find custom, inexpensive luau invitations online. Invite Shop has a large assortment of designs ranging from kitschy to sophisticated.  Pick the design and colors that best coordinate with your Hawaiian theme and decorations.

Rustic Wood Tiki Time luau party invitation by Invite Shop.
Pink Ombre Watercolor luau invitation by Invite Shop.

There are lots of great ideas for luau food options that are both tropical and delicious.  Here is a list of a few of our favorites:

  • Ice Scuptures
  • Tropical Dogs
  • Pineapple Upside Down Cakes
  • Kebabs
  • Fruit
  • Coconut Layer Cake
  • Pig Roast

A tropical drink is the perfect addition to a luau-themed party.  Make sure you have some that are non-alcoholic as well – mango smoothies are a favorite found on the islands and they’re easy to make at home, too.  Here’s a list of our favorite Hawaiian-themed drinks:

  • Mai Tai
  • Pina Coladas
  • Smoothies
  • Hawaiian Island Punch

A Luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast with Polynesian entertainment – so don’t forget to entertain.  A limbo contest is a great icebreaker and fun for guests of all ages.  Also consider renting a Ukelele player to add some island sounds to your soiree. Or play Hawaiian-themed music from your own stereo system.  Here is a playlist of our favorite songs for a luau:

  • Bahia, Arthur Lyman, Bahia
  • Blue Hawaii, Arthur Lyman, Hawaiian Sunset
  • Minoi Minoi, Charley Mauu, Edition Pierre Verger: Polynesia from Bora-Bora to Tahiti
  • Flowers of Paradise, Alfred Apaka, The Best of Alfred Apaka Vol 1
  • Mai Ha’i La Ha’I, The Brothers Cazimero, Some Call It Aloha
  • Ulili E, Israel Kamakawiwole, Alone In The World
  • Blue Hawaii, The Polynesians, Beautiful Hawaii
  • Sea Breeze (Puamana), Buddy Merrill, Beyond The Reef
  • Bahi Hai, Prince Kalua and the Tropical Islanders, Hawaii’s Greatest Hits
  • Lahainaluna, All Star Hawaiian Band, Steel Guitar Magic
  • Hawaiian Sunset, Elvis Presley, Blue Hawaii soundtrack
  • Harbor Lights, Martin Denny, Exotica III
  • Trade Winds, Bing Crosby, Blue Hawaii
  • My Little Grass Shack, Joe Keawe, It’s Hotter In Hawaii Vol 2
  • Hawaiian Hula, Sam Ku West, It’s Hotter In Hawaii Vol. 4
  • Yellow Bird, Chet Atkins, Caribbean Guitar
  • Fly Me To The Island, Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys, Island Slumber
  • Drifting and Dreaming (Sweet Paradise), The
  • Outriggers, Golden Hits of Hawaii
  • Sunset on the Kona Kai, The Tikiyaki Orchestra, Swingin’ Sounds for the Jungle Jetset
  • Hawaiian Hospitality, Ray Kinney, Hukilau Hulas
  • Rock-A-Hula Baby, Elvis Presley
  • Holiday in Hawaii, Annette Funicello

Present each guest with a Lei to wear throughout the party and take home.  You can buy them at most party stores or make them yourself.  These instructions from Dream A Lil Dream will help you make inexpensive crepe paper leis that will brighten up your celebration.  If you’re interested in making leis with fresh flowers, these instructions from TeleFlora will help you create leis that look (and smell!) authentic!

2 – Down Home Backyard Barbeque

When the weather gets warm, it’s a good time to plan a good old fashioned backyard BBQ.  This party is easy to pull off in a short time and can be inexpensive to throw.  The meat is king at this backyard bash, so whether you’re grilling hot dogs, steak or smoking pork ribs make sure you have your recipe and grilling equipment ready.

Let the games begin.  Backyard standards such as croquet, badminton and Frisbee and are always fun to play.  We also think this giant game of scrabble or banagrams is the perfect outdoor activity for guests of all ages.  We love this outdoor scrabble board featured in Sunset.

Backyard scrabble project via Sunset.

Invitations for a backyard BBQ should be festive and indicate the type of food being served in case a guest would like to bring a dish to share.  Also indicate if it’s a potluck and whether you would like them to bring a particular dish.

Chalkboard Vintage Backyard BBQ invitation by Invite Shop.
Modern Brown Red Pig Roast BBQ invitation by Invite Shop.


For favors find fans, sunblock and bug spray on sale — they’ll be useful and a cute takeaway from your backyard bash

3 – Pool Party

If you have a pool, you have a party.  It’s one of our favorite summertime party ideas.  And one that can be casual or sophisticated.

If it’s for the kids, burgers and chips around the pool is the perfect fare for a summer soiree.  These watermelon popsicles from Cooking Classy are an adorable treat for the kids.

Watermelon popsicles by Cooking Classy.

We also love these Shark Tank jello jars from Lady Behind the Curtain using individual jello cups using gummy fish and Nerds candy.

Shark tank jello jars by Lady Behind the Curtain.

Traditional pool games such as red light/green light, Marco Polo and pool tag are all great favorites with the kids.  We also love this quick and easy DIY game of swimming pool Scrabble by Toddler Approved.  It’s inexpensive and helps their swimming and reading skills.

Scrabble Main
Scrabble Game by Toddler Approved.


If it’s an all-adult evening, there’s likely to be a little more pool-side than swimming so consider decorating the pool to give the party some ambiance.  Inexpensive and lightweight found in the toy section make great pool floats and make a big impact with guests.  Use all the same color for added wow.  We love these clear beach balls (photo by Dave Medal) floating in the pool to give dimension and drama for a cocktail-hour party.

Photo courtesy of Dave Medal.

If you’re throwing a pool party for adults, we love this pool party punch recipe from Pinnacle Vodka.  It’s easy and refreshing!  Just three simple ingredients:

  • I part vodka
  • 2 parts lemonade
  • splash of Blue Curacao

Pool party invitations can be either playful or sophisticated.  Make sure you customize with all the essential information, including whether they should bring suits, towels, etc.

Colorful Popsicles summer party invitation by Invite Shop.
Confetti Celebration pool party invitation by Invite Shop.

For a kids party, think about pool toys, bubbles or custom embroidered beach towels as favors.  We absolutely love these swimming pool noodles wrapped to look like candy from PCPools.

Pool Noodle Lollipops by PC Pools.

4 – 4th of July

4th of July is the perfect occasion to host friends and family and celebrate the USA at the same time. This patriotic affair requires little decoration other than red, white and blue.  We love this patriotic tissue paper tassel garland by Landeelu.  And we really love that she says it’s super easy and inexpensive!

4th of July Tissue Paper Tassel garland by Landeelu.

For outside decorations, these painted lawn stars are cute and easy.  And they wear off with the next mowing!

4th of July Painted Lawn Stars
Painted lawn stars by The Concrete Cottage.

Games that are good for a 4th of July party include:

  • volleyball
  • cornhole
  • horseshoes
  • badminton
  • croquet

4th of July invitations come in a variety of patriotic styles, so pick the one that best matches your theme and decor.  Make sure to tell guests what to bring if you’re having a potluck and if other items, such as drinks or chairs to watch the fireworks, are needed.

Red and Blue Glitter 4th of July invitation by Invite Shop.
Colorful Exploding Fireworks 4th of July invitation by Invite Shop.

5 – Fiesta

Get a little spicy with this festive summer soiree.  Add a little Mexican decoration and authentic food and you’re set.  These easy-to-find accessories will make your party seem festive and they can be easily found at party stores or local thrift shops:

  • sombreros
  • pinatas
  • Serape blankets
  • Chili peppers & limes
  • Corona bottles filled with brightly colored flowers

And DIY projects are great for fiesta-themed celebrations.  We love this Mexican flower tutorial by Happy Thought.

Fiesta invitations can be bright, fun and, well, festive!  Pick one with lots of color that matches your celebration.

Cold Yellow Bear Bottle BBQ invitation by Invite Shop.
Sombrero Silhouette invitation by Invite Shop.

How are you going to celebrate summer 2016?


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