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What Should You Do This Month? Throw a Backyard Solstice Party to Celebrate the Start of Summer

Backyard Solstice Party

While many Americans think that summer starts on Memorial Day, it officially begins on summer solstice, usually June 21 in the Northern hemisphere. The longest day of the year seems like the ideal excuse for a party, so here are some ideas for a backyard celebration of midsummer. And if you don't get around to throwing a summer solstice party, there's no expiration date on these outdoor party ideas!                

 For these summer solstice party ideas, I wanted to spotlight some of the things that are better in summer than any other part of the year. So I'm sticking with a theme of seasonal produce and flowers, accented with white lights and candles. You can keep it simple, or you can go all out with DIY projects if you've got the urge.

The Food

Grilled pizzas are a great way to showcase summer produce, and it would be fun to let people pick their own toppings.

ombre grilled heirloom tomato pizza
Grilled pizzas. Photo: PEDEN + MUNK for Bon Appetit

This beautiful heirloom tomato and grilled vegetable salad is perfect for those tricky party guests who don't eat meat, dairy, or gluten (and if you plate it this nicely, it might entice everyone else into eating more veggies.)

A summer solstice party wouldn't be complete without berries. This summer berry cake is a showstopper. 

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Another option is this Swedish midsummer cake. Or you can always keep it simple with a classic strawberry shortcake. Adding edible flowers makes almost any dessert look midsummer-worthy. (Here's a long list of edible flowers.)


The Drinks

If you want to go the cocktail route, making up batches of drinks saves you the trouble of bartending during the party. Strawberry rhubarb sangria, made with sparkling wine, sounds light and refreshing.

For a more savory cocktail, try cucumber-lime-infused gin and tonics.

Cucumber lime gin and tonic
Cucumber-lime-infused gin and tonics. Photo: Jennifer Causey Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Don't forget the non-drinkers in the crowd. Sparkling lavender lemonade or thyme lemonade sound like lovely options.

Thyme lemonade
Thyme lemonade. Photo: Emily Caruso

The Decor

These herb napkin rings are simple and organic, and probably smell wonderful, too.

DIY herb napkin rings
DIY herb napkin rings. Photo: Bobbi Lin

Solar-powered Mason jar lights are a charming option, and practical if you don't have easy access to outdoor outlets.

DIY floral ice buckets are a gorgeous way to keep your wine cool, and double as decor. Make as many as your freezer can handle, and scatter them throughout your yard, or use them as table centerpieces. For a much simpler variation, freeze fresh herbs and edible flowers into ice cubes for drinks.

DIY flower ice bucket
Floral ice bucket. Photo: Susan Phillips

Strings of white cafe lights are perfect for that evening fairy-light ambiance.

String lights

Go all out with a handmade floral chandelier. Bonus points if you grow your own flowers. If you're not feeling quite so ambitious, just pile your tables with vases overflowing with flowers from the store.

DIY Flower Chandelier
Flower chandelier. Photo: Brittni Mehlhoff

The Entertainment

Whether you turn it into a drinking game or not, giant Jenga is nearly always a hit at outdoor parties, and is the only entertainment you'll need at your summer solstice party. With some 2x4's, a saw, and some sandpaper, you can easily make your own giant Jenga set. You can always buy a set if you're not inclined to make one. 

DIY giant Jenga
Make your own giant Jenga set with these instructions. Photo: Little Country House.

Summer solstice party ideas
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