I live for Favorite Things parties. I hosted my first Favorite Things Party a couple of years ago to celebrate the launch of my book, Eat More Dessert. It was such a blast we did it again as a Christmas party and have turned it into an annual event ever since.
This past spring my girlfriends were chatting about what summer party I should host (we always find a reason to celebrate summer). An all-girls summer Favorite Things party came up. It took about thirty seconds for everyone to find a date that worked and pencil it into their calendar.
A Summer Favorite Things party is a great excuse for a fun night with friends. The best part is, it can be tailored to fit any budget, style or theme! To began the planning process, nail down a few must haves for your event. It helps give the party an outline and a starting point. My party essentials are: creative decor, good food, fun drinks, delicious dessert and an interactive activity:
*Fun Pool Floats used as decor.
*Fruit Decorations, inexpensive and fun!
*ZICO cocktail bar using fresh fruits and popsicles.
*Taco Bar with all the essentials.
*Banana Split Bar with Dreyer’s Slow Churned Simple Recipes ice cream.
*Favorite Things activity.
The first step is the invite. My incredibly talented friend Erica of Harper Gray Designs heard my request and designed something perfect for the event. I had expressed my hope of flamingos, fruit and fun summer colors. As usual, she created an absolutely incredible invitation!
Inside the invite, we included a small card with the instructions for the party. I asked each guest to bring three of their favorite things around $10, and bring three of each (nine total). Each guest would go home with nine new favorite things! The beauty of a favorite things party is you can tailor it to fit your group of friends. We started ours years ago with a $5 dollar limit, but no one could stay in the $5 range. We upped it to $10 and we’re all still struggling… We may have to up it again!
After invites have been decided on, you’ll want to pull together your decor. I knew I wanted all things summer and what better than a pool filled with floats? My sweet friend Joelle of Wish and Pink has the most gorgeous home with a backyard I’d be willing to live outside in. She so graciously allowed me to host the party at her home! It was the perfect spot to entertain.
If you don’t have a backyard pool, that’s ok, I don’t either! You can forget the floats and find other ways to spruce up your outdoor entertaining space. A simple and quick way to give your everyday space a celebratory touch is with some coordinating party pillows. I ordered a few from Shutterfly to give the furniture a pop of party!
I also ordered a personalized pineapple canvas. It’s fun to invest in pillows and canvas prints because you can re-use them in your home and let the party live on a bit longer!
For most of my parties, I include a good amount of flowers. For this event, I really felt cactus and succulents would be a good fit! It’s been really warm in Seattle and I hate having the stress of wilting flowers. I found a great variety of succulents at a local garden store and planted them in some cool pots. They added just the right amount of life to the event.
One thing a lot of people miss when hosting parties is music. I try to stick to all five senses when entertaining. Sound is a big one!! Make a fun party playlist for your event and turn up the music! I love Ultimate Ears wireless, bluetooth outdoor speakers, they even matched the party and lent fun tunes throughout the night.
The layout of any party is really important. I stick to a triangle rule..food, drinks and dessert arranged in a triangle shape around the event space. That way, guests aren’t piled up in one area of a party, it spaces everyone out! If you aren’t offering a full dessert table, substitute an activity area as your third corner of the triangle!
Be sure to account for seating for guests. There’s nothing worse than having to stand and eat because there isn’t enough chairs. I found these orange bar tables and stools from All Modern that added a great pop of orange into the party. Lanterns were added around the party to provide additional decor, but also a little ambiance once the sun went down.
“Mini Mingos” were placed around the party to greet guests and provide a little bit of kitchy fun.
I used to offer every kind of drink at parties. I’d pick up every drink imaginable to ensure each guest had their favorite drink available. Not anymore! I’ve found that offering a couple signature drinks for the event saves a substantial amount of time as well as money.
For our summer party, we came up with a few different cocktails (and mocktails!) using ZICO coconut water, fresh fruit, club soda and Tito’s Vodka.
We had a plethora of fresh fruit for our bartender to juice with as well as garnish drinks. ZICO‘s chilled juice blends were delicious and refreshing on such a hot day.
Another simple way to spruce up your beverage area is to add fresh fruit to water dispensers. We added watermelon and orange slices to our water. It adds the tiniest hint of flavor and looks so pretty!
Personalized cocktail napkins are inexpensive and add an additional detail to the party. Custom glasses are fun to include as well! I made my own at Shutterfly. They’re a fun keepsake after the event!
I like to have a tray of drinks ready to serve as guests arrive. I dressed the ZICO cocktails up even more by placing a popsicle in each drink!
Be sure to have a sturdy, washable tray for your drinks. Ours was custom made by Arla Creations with Harper Gray‘s invite design!
My friend Molly grabbed a drink and hopped on a swan the second she arrived!
For an outdoor summer party, serve food that is pretty durable. It’s really difficult to offer things that need refrigeration or heat. I’m a die hard taco girl, so I went with a taco bar!
I knew I couldn’t get away without using chafing dishes so I used a few funky pink and blue sets I found at Party City! They were great and totally went with the theme.
I’m not a huge fan of using paper plates so I was thrilled to find these colorful melamine plates at All Modern. I scooped up 24 of them for the party! It’s nice to offer guests a sturdy plate, there’s nothing worse than trying to eat off of a flimsy plate.
The centerpiece of a Favorite Things party is the favorite things table! You’ll need to account for how many guests are coming, and how many favorite things they’re bringing. I always use cake plates for my parties, but you could use anything from trays, platters, baskets or boxes. Look around your home to find things you already own.
Guests can display their “things” as they arrive to the party.
You can ask guests to label their items or leave them as is. It’s not mandatory, but it’s fun to have a label so you know who brought what. Makes for a fun ice breaker!
One of my favorite things were these ban.do cups in flamingo drink floats! I really don’t care for water (I know, right?) so drinking it out of a cute cup is way more fun.
Another “favorite” of mine were huge bunches of market flowers! I love to get fresh flowers at our local farmers market. They always seem to last forever and they’re so inexpensive!
My friend Melaine brought Evergreen State Fair tickets, presented in a vintage trophy and tied with darling tags. My sister Emily was pretty excited about them.
Once everyone has arrived and placed their favorite things, it’s time for round one! I typically have 2-3 rounds during the party, depending on how many “things” each guest brings.
I treated each of my friends with a personalized tote (custom made by Gentry California) to collect their goodies in. Inside the bag were ticket packs with 9 tickets and a few other take home goodies: a summer themed Logitech mouse, Wrenn Nail Polish, ZICO coconut pineapple water, a sweet mint green stone necklace from Wrenn Jewelry and a voucher for Dreyer’s Ice Cream.
For the first round, each person could redeem 4 tickets. On the count of three, it was a mad dash to collect 4 things from the table. The first round lasts all of 20 seconds.
After round one, offer guests a chance to eat, grab a fresh drink or pose for a few photos! I usually have a photo opp but my friend Joelle’s yard was so gorgeous, we didn’t need one!
The cutest pregnant friends, Desiree and Renee. They’re 10 weeks apart!
Who needs a photo booth when you have swans??!
For a fun summer dessert, I offered a Banana Split Bar! I thought it was a fun change from my usual cookies and cake. It’s pretty easy to put together and something most people don’t normally think to serve at an adult party! All of my girlfriends were excited to make their own banana split.
The typical flavors and toppings were displayed on the table but we spruced it up a bit and offered three specialties to our guests using Dreyer’s Slow Churned Simple Recipes light ice cream. Since it’s my favorite, we had to include it! It’s absolutely delicious and made with real ingredients.
*Bacon and Butter Pecan Banana Split: Warm Bacon pieces, Dreyer’s Butter Pecan Slow Churned Ice Cream, Banana with drizzled caramel sauce
*S’mores Banana Split: Banana, Marshmallows, Dreyer’s Slow Churned Chocolate Ice Cream, and Crumbled Graham Crackers.
*Fresh Fruit and Granola Banana Split: Fresh blueberries, raspberries, granola and Dreyer’s Vanilla Bean Slow Churned Ice Cream.
To replicate a banana split bar for your own party, you’ll want to make sure you have a nice variety of the essentials:
*ice cream (I prefer Dreyer’s Slow Churned Simple Recipes)
*toppings (berries, cookies, nuts, sprinkles, cherries, etc)
*sauces (caramel, chocolate, marshmallow, butterscotch, strawberry and pineapple)
After everyone enjoyed their “sweeter together” moment with their banana split, it was time for the 2nd and final round of favorite things. On the count of three, each guest redeemed their remaining 5 tickets.
Favorite Things parties are the best! It’s SO much work to host, but this party was worth all the work. I feel really grateful to have such a fun, genuine group of friends who were so appreciative and happy to be a part of the night. It makes all of the hard work and planning worth it! I’m already planning the next one!
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Photography by Solie Designs
THIS IS A SPONSORED POST. JENNY COOKIES HAS RECEIVED PAYMENT, TRADE AND/OR PRODUCTS IN EXCHANGE FOR PROMOTING, HOWEVER ALL OPINIONS STATED ARE MY OWN AND I ONLY PROMOTE PRODUCTS/COMPANIES I LOVE.”