How to Throw the Best Summer Parties

By Leslie Goldman

You don't need to be an event planner with a staff of 20 to host an inspired gathering. Time to hose down the patio furniture, dust off the grill, and bust out the creativity.

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Stephen Danelian

Get Your Glow On

"When you're having a great summer bash, It's never fun when the sun goes down and the only lighting left is the lingering barbecue fire," says Chelsea Clinton's wedding planner Bryan Rafanelli of Boston-based Rafanelli Events. Instead, the right lighting sets the mood, adding ambience and keeping the revelry going. "Plus, everyone looks great in the glow of candlelight!"

Your own lighting solution might be sitting in your basement: White Christmas lights can be wrapped around trees, fences, or used to line the inside of a table umbrella. Citronella tiki torches are another idea; they create a bug-free pathway (be sure to keep children and pets away from the open flame). Or bamboo or paper lanterns, purchased inexpensively from your local craft store, can be hung from the base of a sturdy tree branch.

Rafanelli likes to line 50 colored votives down the center of a large dining table; for more casual affairs, scatter them all around the yard. Or try this charming idea from Angie Hodes, the crafty blogger behind The American Homemaker. Simply cut a pattern out of a pretty vellum or sheer paper, secure ends with glue or clear tape, and set the shade over a wine glass filled with a tea light. Talk about getting lit!

The American Homemaker

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