8 Summer Entertaining Essentials Real Simple Editors Swear By
From drinks, to games, to desserts, here are the party staples our editors always keep on hand.
When it comes to entertaining, there are some can't-miss essentials: delicious food, refreshing drinks, and great tunes—you know the drill. But over the years, our Real Simple staff has found some genius products we always have on hand to elevate our get-togethers and make our lives loads easier in the process. Whether it’s for a small gathering in the backyard or a full-blown party, here are our editors’ favorite things to keep handy for summer hosting. With these little helpers, you'll be ready to throw your most memorable party yet.
RELATED: Our Ultimate Summer Party Ideas
My husband and I always incorporate ladder golf into our summer parties. It’s a crowd-pleaser for all ages and totally breaks the ice if guests don’t know each other very well. This one, made of PVC pipes, breaks down to small pieces that fit into a bag for easy off-season storage. —Stephanie Sisco, home director
To buy: $40, amazon.com.
A classic ice cream cake is one of my favorite summer desserts—but when I'm having just a few friends over, instead of picking up an entire cake, I like to grab a few Friendly's Sundae Cups. They come layered with all the essentials—including my favorite, the chocolate crunchies. —Katie Holdefehr, senior editor
To buy: friendlys.com.
If you’re not a beer person, VRAC makes an excellent boxed rosé. It's a little too easy to drink. —Dawn Perry, food director
To buy: $29 for three liters, astorwines.com.
I swear by these freezable wine bags from PackIt. They're perfect for toting wine to a party because they'll keep it cold for hours, and you can leave it there after you go as a great hostess gift. They come in cute prints, too. —Betty Gold, senior digital food editor
To buy: $12, amazon.com.
Cucumbers, potato chips, and Greek yogurt—random combination, I know—but we always have them in the pantry or fridge come summer. Slice up the cucumber and put out the chips, then whip up a quick dip with yogurt, lemon zest and juice, a clove or two of grated garlic (use a microplane!), salt, and lots of black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and everybody thinks you’re a hero. —Dawn Perry, food director
To buy: $15, amazon.com.
I’m known in our circle of friends and family for my guacamole (if I do say so myself!), so I always make a fresh batch right before people come over to serve as a yummy appetizer. The masher ensures the consistency of the avocados is perfect every time, plus the bowl is super pretty to serve in. It alleviates the mess of having to transfer the dip into a serving bowl, too. —Heather Muir, beauty director
To buy: $30; macys.com.
I always have Kikkerland fancy straws on hand for entertaining. They dress up any glass for very little money, and everyone loves them at parties! —Elizabeth Sile, features editor
To buy: $8 for a box of 144, amazon.com.
I have a stash of games in the house at all times, because sometimes you need something to bring people together or get everyone involved in the same activity, but you don't want a game that will last all night or be uncomfortable for people. Left Center Right is a dice game that only requires four quarters and a few dice, and I've had many house guests buy this game to use at their own parties! —Brooke Schuldt, social media editor
To buy: $7, amazon.com.