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As summer wraps up, it’s tempting to transition to cozy fall gatherings right away, but don’t move too quickly! Having a “goodbye summer” party is a great way to celebrate the last fresh, vibrant colors, sounds, and flavors of summer with your friends and family. So pull out the last of your summer décor and try these tips for making the most of your final summer bash.

Choose a Bright and Summery Theme

The easiest way to make your guests feel like they’ve arrived at the ultimate end-of-summer party is by choosing a bright, summer-y theme and corresponding décor. Themes that evoke summer whimsy and hot days are easy to work with – think ice cream, watermelon, beach, rainbows, etc. Once you’ve landed on a theme, choose linens and tableware that match either the color or a particular image. This is your last chance to use all the vibrant balloons, napkins, and dishes you’ve collected, so don’t be afraid to be bold! Giving your guests party favors that match the theme is a fun way to send them home with a great memory; consider making colored popcorn in appropriate colors and packaging it in a bag with a homemade tag that matches your theme.

Make a ‘Best of the Summer’ Playlist

Summer parties are often filled with loud laughter and music, so make your end-of-summer playlist one that features the best of the season. Ask your party guests to send song suggestions a week in advance so that you can add their favorites to the mix. Make sure to include some calmer tunes if you plan to have a more formal, sit-down meal, while casual parties always benefit from upbeat rhythms and recognizable pop hits. Invest in a good portable speaker if you don’t have one already so that you can move the music around the yard if the party migrates. Save your playlist on your favorite music app and share it with guests so that everyone can enjoy the mix year-round!

Highlight Fruits and Veggies – as Food and Décor

Perhaps the best way to highlight summer in your final bash of the season is to incorporate fruits and vegetables as much as possible. The end of summer is often the best time for fresh melons, corn, and some berries, so make liberal use of these ingredients. This corn salsa is an easy way to feature several fresh ingredients, and it makes a great appetizer with chips or with a main dish alongside grilled fish. While serving fruits and vegetables as part of your menu seems obvious, decorating with them may not be as common. Consider placing bowls of citrus around the party space to introduce color and vibrant aromas; herbs can be used to infuse dull spaces with a pop of green and a lovely smell. Don’t be afraid to generously and creatively use those fruits and veggies!

Photo: Xavier Arnau via

Serve Summer Cocktails

The cocktails (and non-alcoholic offerings) you serve do a lot to contribute to the mood of your gathering, so choose cocktails for your end-of-summer bash that incorporate fresh flavors and are light and refreshing. If you’d like to minimize your prep, make a batch of homemade strawberry lemonade and have liquor available for guests to add as they’d like. Putting out water infused with cucumber, lime, and mint also keeps the fresh flavor flowing. If you’d like something unique, serve these “drunken melon balls” to highlight the delicious summer melon while giving your guests a bit of a kick!

Keep the Food Light and from the Grill

As summer comes to a close, the days of everyone gathering around the backyard grill are numbered. Take this opportunity to cook one last meal entirely on the grill so that guests can savor that quintessential summer barbecue smell. Keeping the food on the lighter side will also feel summer-y since guests aren’t yet ready for the richer, heavier food of fall. This shrimp scampi is an easy meal to grill, and the kebob serving style makes it simple for guests to eat while they mingle.

Play Games in the Dark

Take advantage of the last warm evenings by planning games best played at dusk or in the dark. Because it will soon be too cold to play after the sun goes down, this is the perfect time to get in one final round of family favorites like flashlight tag or glow stick races. A twilight scavenger hunt is a great way to have guests of all ages interact together in your backyard; choose things that might be easier to find as it’s getting dark (think fireflies, hearing a nightingale or cricket, etc.).

Pull out all the stops with these ideas for a memorable goodbye summer party and leave your guests excited for next year’s summer festivities.

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Additional Headlines:

  1. End-of-Summer Bash: 6 Tips for Saying Goodbye to the Season
  2. How to Celebrate the End of Summer in Style
  3. 6 Tips for Throwing a “Goodbye Summer” Party
  4. 6 Tips for a Memorable “Goodbye Summer” Bash