Summer Cocktail Party Ideas and Tips

Event planner, Molly Hartman shares her foolproof entertaining tricks.

Photo by David Meredith

When it comes to effortless entertaining, Molly Hartman, event planner and founder of Glitter + Rye, shared her top top tricks:


  • Enlist a wingman. An anxious host is a buzzkill, so for outdoor shindigs, which demand ferrying supplies from kitchen to yard, Hartman enlists a wingman—“a friend willing to check on the music, keep an eye on the trash, talk to the guy who doesn’t know anyone,” she says.
  • Make smart menu choices. She avoids “wimpy foods” that wither in the heat, sticking with a straightforward, utensil-free menu: “Three varieties of crostini—at least one meatless—and ‘fancy’ chips, like eggplant or sweet potato.”
  • Set a realistic table. A printed tablecloth masks the inevitable spills, and a stealthy layered approach fends off bugs: citronella votives on the party’s perimeter and dishes of cherry juice even farther from the action (bugs flock to the stuff). Chalkboard stickers on glass tumblers are Hartman’s upgrade of the Sharpie-and-Solo-cup plan.