Entertaining with Emily: How to keep party guests cool when it’s way too hot outside

Spaces entertaining columnist Emily Farris has a word of advice for anyone planning an outdoor party in the summer heat: Don’t.
Spaces entertaining columnist Emily Farris has a word of advice for anyone planning an outdoor party in the summer heat: Don’t.

OK, fine. You can do it, but don’t invite me.

Well, you can invite me, but don’t expect me to actually come.

OK, I guess if it’s a really big deal (like your wedding) and you’re a really big deal (like my sister or my best friend or one of the Fab Five from “Queer Eye”) I might actually come. But don’t expect me to enjoy myself.

Yes, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m no fan of outdoor parties in the summertime — when everyone and their uncle likes to throw a backyard barbecue, pool party or other sweaty shindig. While I can see the appeal of such gatherings for most people, it’s torture for me; I’m quite possibly allergic to the sun and most definitely every mosquito’s favorite snack.

But since the world does not, in fact, revolve around me, I can’t stop you from hosting when it’s roasting. What I can do is help you make things slightly less miserable for those of us who can’t handle the heat. Here are some tips.

Create a shady sanctuary

For people like me (you know: the dangerously pale) and the sick and elderly, there’s no such thing as “fun in the sun.” So if you want us to have a good time, create some shady spots with snacks, seating and a place for me to set my drink while your grandma and I fan ourselves and complain about the weather.

Ice water, everywhere

This one should be a no-brainer, but if you’re hosting anything outdoors in the armpit of summer, your guests shouldn’t have to look too hard for cold water. Whether you put it in a fancy drink dispenser with sliced cucumbers or pack a bunch of Costco water bottles into a cooler, make it accessible and keep it stocked. The last thing you want is me (or your grandma) getting dehydrated and passing out at your party!

Bug off

Getting swarmed by mosquitoes is no fun for anyone. Keep bugs at bay by offering some sort of insect repellent for your guests. You can even place cans of bug spray outside the bounds of the party if you don’t want people accidentally spritzing the veggie tray while trying to douse their legs.

Another option is to set up a series of large fans. The breeze is great for guests and bad for bugs because their creepy little bodies can’t fly through it!

If you plan on throwing lots of outdoor parties this year, you may consider having your yard treated by a company like Mosquito Joe. In my experience, citronella candles really aren’t all that effective, but they do smell like summer and at least your guests will know you tried.

DIY summer party spray

Eau de Deet may be my summertime scent, but I know it’s not for everyone. Keep your guests cool and relatively bug-free with a DIY summer party spritz. Fill a bunch of small spray bottles with water and a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus oil (which can help repel bugs), then keep the bottles on ice. Just be sure to label them so people know what they’re for! Your party will smell great and you’ll be everyone’s new favorite summer host.

For more hosting tips and complaints about the heat, follow Emily on Instagram at @theboozybungalow or visit her blog,