Ideas and Inspiration for Every Occasion | Shutterfly

Summer Party Ideas and Themes for 2017

Warm weather calls for a fun summer party with family and friends. Whether you’re celebrating a kid’s birthday or starting a new tradition, planning your party begins with choosing a summer-friendly theme. We’ve provided a fun and creative list of summer party ideas below to get the party started.

Backyard BBQ Party

Host a classic backyard BBQ for family and friends with traditional picnic food. This is an easy theme that will make guests feel comfortable and right at home. Although the focus of a BBQ is the food, you can go all out with country inspired decorations. Everything can be used for this theme, from sunflowers and mason jars to paisley print and plaid tablecloths. For summer BBQ party invitations, you can choose a design that has a grill on the front or BBQ graphics.

Beach Party

Throw a party at the beach or bring the beach to your backyard with a fun beach party theme. This theme is usually characterized by sand, seashells, seersucker fabric, striped décor, beach chairs and seafood. You can set up beach-inspired games for the day or host a bonfire gathering at night.

If you’re throwing a beach-themed party at your house, be sure to stock up on blue linens, outdoor pillows, glassware and rustic beach signs. You can mix and match different shades of blue throughout your decor to give this classic theme a modern twist. Choose a sea-blue invitation and encourage guests to wear their favorite swimwear or beach outfit.

Backyard Dinner Party

Host an evening dinner party in your backyard for an intimate and memorable time with your loved ones. From beautiful lighting ideas and candle spreads to summer decor and tableware, you can create new summer memories right at home. If you prefer cool summer nights over daytime heat, this is the perfect summer party idea for you. You can choose a warm or cool color palette and find table runners, plates and more that compliment your color theme. Consider customizing mason jars with short summer sayings to add charm and personalization to your dinner table.

Tex-Mex Summer Fiesta

Get the margaritas, chili and tacos ready for your Tex-Mex party theme. This theme combines Western and Mexican fiesta party elements for one unforgettable celebration. Consider using a variety of colorful garlands, paper flowers, cactus plants, pinatas and Mexican serape table runners for your decor. You can also add a nacho bar with a variety of toppings and a margarita station to make this a true fiesta.

Lemonade Party

Lemonade is the go-to drink for summer. You can turn this sweet drink into a summer party theme with lemonade-inspired treats and yellow decor. Consider building a stylish lemonade stand that can double as a drink station and photo booth. You can also incorporate pink lemonade-inspired decor and treats in your party set-up to add a pop of color.


Turn your backyard into an island with a luau summer party theme. This theme is easy and allows for a variety of DIY projects. Tropical flowers, palm trees, grass skirts and fruity cocktails are just a few things you can incorporate to make your guests feel like they’re in Hawaii. In addition to luau-inspired décor, you can encourage guests to dance by playing Hawaiian music. Lastly, choosing a party invitation that has tropical elements informs the guests that they’ll be attending a luau.

Summer Camp Party

If you’re looking for a nature-oriented party theme, a summer camp Woodland theme is a great idea. Plants, bear-themed décor, wood signage, s’mores and a campfire will help transform any backyard or park set-up into the perfect camp get-a-way. Encourage guests to wear camping inspired apparel and provide throw blankets and custom pillows for comfortable seating. If your party goes into the evening, try screening a movie in your backyard with a popcorn bar to keep guests entertained.


Create your own carnival this summer by bringing circus and county fair elements right to your backyard. This theme is geared towards kids and consists of carnival-friendly food, games and colorful decorations. Get creative with your dessert bar by including classic carnival treats such as cotton candy, popcorn, churros and snow cones. You can also set up a lemonade stand and water bar with fruit for guests to cool down in between carnival games.

Popular games at a carnival themed party often include ring tosses, ping pong tosses, dart balloons, dunk tanks and ‘guess how many’ candy games. You can set up a fun prize table where kids can cash in their tickets for small prizes. Lastly, don’t forget the temporary tattoos and face paint stations for attendees.

Ice Cream Social

Host an ice cream social to keep your friends and family cool this summer. You can set up a decadent ice cream bar for attendees to create their own ice cream masterpiece. Offer a variety of popular toppings such as cookie dough, chocolate chips, strawberries, cherries, marshmallows and syrup. When it comes to decorations, use plenty of ice cream inspired decor and choose a bright color palette, such as neapolitan.

Summer Party Game Ideas

Once you have food and decorations covered, plan out a few summer party games to keep guests entertained. Preparing two to three games can liven up your summer celebration and break the ice. After the majority of your guests have eaten, ask a friend to lead a group game. You can also set up game areas so guests can play games throughout the party.

Here are some popular summer game ideas to keep the party going:

When you’re looking at themes, it’s also important to choose summer party invitations that match your party idea. Your summer party invite sets the tone for guests and gives them an idea of what to expect. You can use your color palette or take elements from a specific theme to choose your invitation design.

Sticking with a summer party theme from the start can simplify your party planning process and save you some time. Don’t forget to reference our list of pool party ideas for more inspiration on creating summer memories.