Summer Entertaining Tips

Top Tips for Summer Entertaining

Summer’s in full swing! The smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of kids playing, and the sight of clear blue skies fill our senses, while we all prepare for a season of summer fun… including lively get-togethers!

This year, make your summer parties even more entertaining, affordable, convenient, and healthy with just a few simple touches. Here are several helpful suggestions to get you get started in planning the most successful soiree of the season:

  • Go for multi-purpose décor: Your summer entertaining will most likely be outside, so spruce up your deck or patio with items that not only add to the atmosphere and style of your spot, but also help everyone enjoy themselves. A large table umbrella can add a dash of color while also keeping your guests shaded. Hanging lanterns and twinkle lights are an elegant way to help everyone see each other once the sun goes down. And citronella candles can help to fill the air with great scents while also keeping pests away.
  • Make it a DIY gathering: While the grill is going, set up everything else outside. Line a table with stacks of plates, cups, napkins, utensils, buns, and side dishes. Then fill a cooler with everyone’s favorite drinks nestled in ice. When the food is ready, your guests can fill their own plates and pluck their own favorite items off the grill while you enjoy the visit. You’ve just reduced clean-up duty as well!
  • Embrace and customize themes: Themes are a great way to coordinate all get-togethers, large or small. Sometimes a few details might make you wary of a certain idea, but this summer take advantage of any great theme by customizing it to you. Want to unwind with friends and a cool drink after work while watching the kids? No problem. Create some frozen drinks everyone can enjoy while relaxing together. Love the idea of a picnic, but not the reality of being less than comfortable? Instead of a blanket, use outdoor chair cushions to make your spot more enjoyable while still getting that picnic feel. You get the idea.
  • What can we bring? It’s the question you usually get right after inviting friends and family over. Then you probably usually say, “Nothing at all” or “Just yourselves!” But there’s a way to take advantage of their generosity without putting them out. Tell guests who offer some help to bring their favorite outdoor games or music. These are two areas you might forget about, and there’s no cost for your guests to bring what they already have. Win-win.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix up the menu: We know, it’s barbecue season. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend the next three months dining on nothing but hot dogs and hamburgers (though you still will want to at least a few times, right?). This summer, change things up by trying a different main course option. For instance, grill your favorite fish as the centerpiece of your meal to add a fun new taste to your typical summer dining. Also be sure to take advantage of the great variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables available at outdoor farmers’ markets or even your own garden. Everything tastes best at its peak ripeness.

Remember, this great weather won’t last forever, so get out and enjoy it. Make this summer all about having fun with your favorite people, and keep an eye out for ways to do so more easily and affordably.

What’s your best summer entertaining tip? Tell us in the comments!


Make a Summer Bucket List

Your Summer Bucket List

Summer’s in full swing and everyone’s heading for the great outdoors and our minds are quickly filling up with grandiose ideas of how we’re going to spend our days in the sun. Something fun? Something new? Something adventurous?

But so often we get distracted and time passes by much too quickly. Before we’re left wondering, “Where did summer go?” it’s time to do something about it. Now!

Stay right on track by creating a summer bucket list of must-do ideas so that your summer stays action packed and filled with memorable experiences. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Look locally: Take a look at your state and local visitor’s bureau to see if there are local attractions that you’ve never been to before. The community calendar section of your local newspaper is also a great place to start. Sometimes just the next town over can offer a new experience or a little-known piece of local history.
  • Water fun: Summer is much more than lounging by the pool. Check out local lakes or try a new watersport like kayaking or windsurfing if it’s available in your area.
  • Nurture nature: So not everyone may be ready to tackle an entire weekend camping, but even just going on a hike in a local park is a great way to connect with nature. Many park systems also offer summer programs and guided tours, so take advantage and use nature as your outdoor classroom.
  • Seasonal eats: Give your regular menu rotation a fresh start with some fun summer recipes featuring locally grown fresh fruits and veggies. Shop a local farmers’ market. Or if you’re super ambitious, grow your own! And if space is scarce, a small potted herb garden is still very manageable and a good project for a beginning gardener.
  • Summer favorites: Some things just go hand-in-hand with summer: going to a drive-in movie, getting ice cream, hosting a lemonade stand, and having a picnic or cookout. Keep a running list in an easily accessible place, like the refrigerator, so that you can add to it as things pop into your head.

Summer Bucket List

For your convenience, American Greetings has created a special printable checklist just for you. Simply click here, right click to save to your desktop and print!

Happy summer, everyone!


The perfect summer soundtrack

The Perfect Summer Soundtrack

Whether you’re headed out on the open road, relaxing by the pool, or grilling with family and friends, music is an essential part of the summer season. The best way to share and enjoy the songs you like most is to create your very own custom summer soundtrack.

In order to put together a perfect summer soundtrack, remember that it takes time, practice, and, ultimately, a great range of artists and genres to fit your moods and activities. Since today’s hits are sure to be blaring on the radio already, let’s instead focus on some older, less recognizable songs and artists that fit the following typical summer situations:

Road Trip: It may be the ultimate challenge for any musical compilation. You’re in the car, possibly for hours, and music is your one salvation. The good news is that there are countless songs that are sure to put you into the road trip spirit. Here are a few that would make almost any list:

  • “Slow Ride” by Foghat – The name says it all.
  • “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts – A perfect road trip anthem.
  • “Fantastic Voyage” by Coolio – An off-the-beaten-path (pun very intended) suggestion. Will make the drive almost as much fun as the destination!
  • “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley – What could be better for a trip with the guys?
  • For a girls-only weekend, you can’t go wrong with the Lenny Kravitz version of “American Woman.”

Basking in the Sun (and the Down Time): Few things offer the kind of simple pleasure as does basking in the sun. Whether on a beach blanket, on a favorite comfy outdoor chair, or in a hammock, it’s one of the best ways to relax and wind down. So with that laid-back vibe in mind, accompany your well-deserved break with these mellow tunes:

  • “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson – A subtle reminder there’s always a party going on.
  • “Could You Be Loved,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and on and on by Bob Marley – No relaxing afternoon or vacation would be complete without this musical genius.
  • “Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra. No artist is cooler and no song gives you the feeling of ultimate summer decadence like this one.
  • From “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” and “Margaritaville,” to “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” no one captures the carefree days of summer quite like Jimmy Buffett as he reminds us all to relax and enjoy the ride.
  • For a more current artist to add to your laid-back mix, Jack Johnson is a great albeit not-widely-known pick. Johnson’s folk-rock jams feature poetic lyrics and rhythms that will get everyone nodding along in approval.

Get-Togethers: Summer gives all of us more opportunities to enjoy the company of friends and family with regular get-togethers. This summer, be sure your back yard, porch, or patio is ready with the right music to get everyone in a celebratory mood.

  • “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond – We dare you to find someone who doesn’t know the words, and nothing gets a party going quite like a singalong.
  • They aren’t called The Beach Boys because they’re great for listening to on a rainy day. Their upbeat tracks are perfect background for any summer gathering.
  • Make it a Motown evening with hits from The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, or any of your other Hitsville USA favorites.
  • Any of The Beatles’ classics would be perfect for a family and friends get-together. From slower tracks like “Let it Be” and “Yesterday.” to more rocking fare like “Can’t Buy me Love” and “Twist and Shout,” you really can’t go wrong.
  • Having a Family Reunion or just entertaining all the relatives? If so, you simply have to include Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” to the mix!



Super Staycations

Super Staycations

Want a summer break? Need a summer break? But funds are a little low this year?

No fret! It’s time to think outside the box and discover the advantage of taking a summer staycations (i.e., a vacation in which you don’t travel away from home).

Your own backyard and your own hometown both offer some great getaways that you might not have thought of—and which won’t break the bank. They’re easy to plan, inexpensive, and fun, offering great enjoyment for you, your family, and your friends.

Here are some of our favorite staycation ideas:

  • Be a Tourist: Take a trip to your city’s own convention and visitor’s bureau to check out pamphlets on attractions in your area you may have missed or haven’t seen in several years. Ask for recommendations on restaurants you’ve never tried. And inquire about festivals, outdoor concerts, or special activities coming up. You may just see your city through new eyes!
  • Visit Some Furry Friends: When was the last time you went to the zoo? Rather than hurrying around to make sure you see all of the animals, take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the personality quirks of those on your way. You’ll be surprised at how the animals react when different groups come through.
  • Play Copycat: Recreate your favorite vacation spot with a favorite meal, a movie, or a few decorations. It’s funny how just a few tiki cups, paper umbrellas, and a lei can whisk you away to a faraway island without even leaving your own zip code.
  • Host a Movie Night: If you have access to a video projector and sound system, host a backyard movie night by showing a favorite flick onto a projection screen or sheet. Provide popcorn and soda (plus other theatre treats if you’re feeling ambitious) and invite the neighbors to bring their own seating. If you have a pool, even better! A float-in movie is always a big hit.
  • Camp in Your Own Backyard: Set up a tent and sleeping bags right in your backyard. Make s’mores on the grill. Tell stories. And try to identify the major constellations in your night sky. It’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors without leaving the comforts of home behind!

Have you ever done a staycation? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments!


Celebrate you this summer!

Celebrate YOU This Summer!

Chances are, your schedule will probably become pretty hectic this summer. Cookouts, weddings, sporting events, and other get-togethers will fill your days, nights, and weekends. But one thing you must never forget is to make some time for you. Just for you!

One way to make sure this happens is to write it down on a calendar—with a pen. Declare this time as sacred and non-negotiable. After all, there’s no denying we all need a few moments to enjoy some quiet “me” time on our own terms.

Here are a few suggestions on how to make that goal a reality:

  • Backyard Oasis: Sometimes all you need is a glass of lemonade, a hammock, a good book, or an iPod to shut the world out and relax. Be sure to set aside some time each week to just be by yourself and recharge your batteries.
  • Go Retro: Remember the ol’ days of listening to a baseball game on the radio? Relaxing on a veranda swing? Taking a nap? No? Well trust us, it’s worth a try. Every single one of them.
  • Party of One Always Has Fun: When was the last time you got to pick your dinner location, movie, or date activity? Well, it’s high time you took yourself out on a date! If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of dining alone, bring along a book or journal to write in. A few hours of solitude spent seeing a movie or wandering around a museum can also do wonders to calm the spirit.
  • Seasonal shopping: Summer is a great time for scouring outdoor flea markets and farmers’ markets. Take your time looking around and seeing what there is to offer. Ask a collector about their wares or a produce vendor about the proper way to prepare a vegetable you’ve never tried before. You’ll find yourself learning something new while at the same time having fun.
  • Expand your Crafting Education: Speaking of learning something new, have you always wanted to learn how to quilt, quill, or do another classic craft? Check out your local craft store’s class schedule and sign up to get started right away!

Summer – time for friends!

 Summer - time for friends! By Kathy Davis | American Greetings Blog

One of the things I love most about summer is that it gives us time to spend with friends, whether it’s a day at the beach, evenings on the deck or just dinner and a movie. There’s something about the laid-back pace and the longer days that gives us permission to linger and just be together, appreciating each other’s company.

The relaxed pace of summer also gives us the gift of time to reach out to friends and loved ones with greeting cards – for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries…or for no reason at all. In fact, our new summer collection of greeting cards is based on art from our “Friendship Garden” collection, which is inspired by my garden at home. Watching the butterflies, birds, bees and dragonflies dance among the flowers gives me great inspiration, and it makes me think about staying connected with the special people who mean so much to me.

So why not take a moment to celebrate summer by reaching out to a friend or loved one with a greeting card? You’ll make their day – and you’ll feel good, too!

Kathy Davis

Find out more about our friend and content partner, Kathy Davis, here!


Top 10 Family Reunion Ideas

Relationships are the fabric of our lives. They are the fibers that weave all things together - Eden Frost quote | American Greetings Blog

There’s something about summer that inspires us to connect with family to celebrate the unique bond that unites us. The joy of sharing not only a cultural heritage, but a family history makes these multi-generational gatherings a time-honored tradition.

Whether it’s an elaborate gathering of the entire network of extended relatives or just your immediate family, here are some great ideas for get-togethers that will have everyone enjoying the day together and creating some special memories.

  1. Check out the zoo (and we don’t mean your zany cousins): A visit to your local zoo will bring out the kid in everyone as they explore different exhibits and learn about exotic creatures. Interactive places like this also inspire conversation and mingling throughout the group, which is the main goal of any family reunion.
  2. Croquet in the park: This centuries-old lawn game is making a comeback in a big way—and it also allows all ages and skill levels to partake in the fun. Pack a picnic, bring out the wickets and hoops, and enjoy a relaxing (and minimally competitive) sport.
  3. Celebrate your heritage: Choosing a memorable date from your family’s country of origin is a good way to help everyone remember when you’ll get together each year. Make your party a celebration of your roots by utilizing traditional colors, foods, activities, and even a little history lesson for the younger generation.
  4. Of grapes and grain: If you’re looking for a way for just the adults to enjoy some time together, visiting a local winery can be a fun way to get outside and enjoy a few spirits in good company. Check with the winery beforehand to see if reservations are necessary and if you’re permitted to bring your own snacks. If so, assign a few people to breads and fruits and ask everyone else to bring a new type of cheese to share.
  5. Take me out to the ball game: Few things say summer like a baseball game—but even if you don’t have a major league budget, minor league and local high school games can still prove to be fun for the whole family.
  6. Scrounging for clues: For another type of interactive activity, consider hosting a scavenger hunt. There are many resources on the Internet to make planning a snap. Consider assigning teams of non-immediate family members to get everyone involved and working together.
  7. Summer camp, family style: Camping doesn’t just have to be just for the experienced outdoorsmen—there are many state parks and recreation areas that offer lovely accommodations for pitching a tent or parking a recreational vehicle for a weekend of turning off the electronic devices and enjoying the great outdoors. What better way to connect than over a campfire and a few good ghost stories?
  8. Cook-off: Is your family known for their barbeque or another summer treat? Host a cook-off where the family chefs present their best recipes (and bring copies to share!) A fun set of cooking utensils makes an appropriate, yet inexpensive grand prize.
  9. Walk for a cause: Start off a traditional picnic with a purpose by signing up the family to participate in a fundraising walk. Selecting a cause that’s near and dear to your family will ensure that everyone feels connected to the event. Host a potluck picnic afterwards to keep the good times going—and pat yourselves on the back for the good deed you’ve done!
  10. Make your family tree: A great activity during any family reunion is to piece together your family tree and history. Take photos of all family members who attend and ask them to provide photos of family members who could not attend or are deceased. Consider putting this family history together in a format that everyone can order a copy of like a custom photo book.

What special things does your family do in order to stay in touch? We’d love to hear in the comments!


Summer Series: Songs of the Summer


The weather is warm, the sun is shining and your mood is light—now all you need are some great tunes to complete this happy scene.  We thought we’d end our Summer Series on a musical note, so here are our picks for the Top Ten Summer Songs that will give you the perfect soundtrack all season long…

Summer in the City, Lovin’ Spoonful

  • Released in 1966, this song shows that you don’t need a beach to capture the summertime spirit.

All Summer Long, Kid Rock

  • Kid Rock crossed over to country and his fans followed, making this song #1 across eight countries in 2008.

Walking on Sunshine, Katrina & The Waves

  • There’s something about 80s music that always gets the summer party started, even if there isn’t one.

Surfin’ USA, Beach Boys

  • Happy 50th anniversary to this timeless summer classic!

Soak Up the Sun, Sheryl Crow

  • This song kicked off the summer of 2002 with soulful style and still makes you want to turn up the radio.

Summertime, DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince

  • After hitting the scene in the 90s, this hip-hop hit still a cool way to liven up the day.

Dancing in the Streets, Martha & The Vandellas (among others)

  • Take your pick on your favorite version that has blared at block parties for nearly half a century.

Hot Fun in the Summertime, Sly & The Family Stone

  • How can we not include a song that became a hit at the biggest music festival ever?  Woodstock!

California Gurls, Katy Perry

  • Labeled by music critics as the “summer anthem” of 2010, this is best sung at the top of your lungs.

Saturday in the Park, Chicago

  • This 1973 classic instantly immerses you into the feeling of a sunny summer weekend, no matter what day it is.

Summer Nights, John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John

  • It’s been 35 years since this song was made famous by the movie “Grease,” but we bet you can still sing along.



Summer Series – Recipes

Summer Recipes from

It’s summertime and the cooking is easy!  With so many delicious foods in season, the only hard thing about serving up the perfect meal is narrowing down the choices.

Simple Summer Meals

Nobody wants to spend a warm day over a hot stove, which is why summer salads are excellent options for lunch and dinner—especially if you add chicken, steak or seafood.   If you’re packing a picnic, it’s fun to combine classic favorites with interesting updates such as a BLT dip and pinwheel sandwiches, along with low-maintenance desserts that stay fresh all day long.

Great Grilling Recipes

Although burgers and hotdogs tend to be the most common grill foods, it might be time for a new spin on some old favorites, like barbeque hot dogs and stuffed burgers.  Or, serve all the flavors of the season on one skewer with easy kabobs.  If you prefer steak or seafood but worry that your grilling skills might not make the cut, a mouth-watering marinade is your key to success.  And don’t forget to grill your side dishes, too! Grilled vegetables complement any summer meal perfectly…and keep all the cooking out of kitchen.

The Coolest Cocktails

While water is certainly the best way to stay hydrated in the sunshine, it’s so much more fun to cool off with a creative summer drink.  For many people, iced tea is the official taste of summertime, but there are also plenty of occasions to keep the cocktails  flowing.  Non-alcoholic treats such as Watermelon Lemonade or an Orange Creamsicle Smoothie are refreshing options for kids—and a fun way to keep everyone in the summertime spirit!


Summer Series Kickoff


With the sunshine season in full swing, today begins a series of summer-themed topics to help you enjoy these lazy, hazy days in the most wonderful ways.

First Stop:  Summer Vacation!

Whether you’re going on a short jaunt or a long trip, here are some tips to simplify the travel process and maximize the fun:


  • Keep a packing list and write things down immediately when you think of them.
  • Limit your luggage to what you can wheel or wear.
  • Pack coordinating clothing items that can be interchanged—and layered.
  • Don’t pack more than one dressy outfit; clothes that require ironing; or anything you haven’t worn before.
  • Do pack extra underwear.
  • Zip-lock bag it!  If something can leak, it probably will.  And an entire kid’s outfit can fit in one bag…and then be used for dirties.
  • Stuff socks inside shoes.
  • Don’t forget chargers.  And be sure to check each outlet at the end of every trip.
  • Always pack a first aid kit.
  • If you’re staying with someone, bring a small gift for your host.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

  • Keep what’s needed within reach.  In a car, this includes cleaning supplies and emergency items.  Baggies also come in handy to corral your necessities such as gum, tissues, iPod, and anti-bacterial wipes.
  • For any long trip, bring your own blanket and/or pillow.
  • Layer your outfit for changing temps.
  • Pack an activity bag for kids (and yourself) with new surprises and reliable favorites.
  • Always bring snacks!

Safety First

*Put your credit card on travel alert before you go.*

  • Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket or your purse on your shoulder.
  • Never leave your valuables in your vehicle.
  • Closely inspect all final bills—and don’t be afraid  to question extra charges.

Make it Memorable

  • Ask locals for suggestions on restaurants, directions and activities.
  • Keep a journal.  You’ll be amazed at how much you would’ve forgotten if you didn’t write it down.
  • Take tons pictures and videos, but don’t forget to enjoy the moment while you’re capturing it.
  • Spring for that silly souvenir!  It will surely inspire a smile in years to come.

Summer Quote

Summer Quote from

Today marks the first official day of summer and the Summer Solstice! Each year, the timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice). It seems like a great day to soak up the sun! How are you going to celebrate summer?


Top 10 Picnic Tips

Top 10 Picnic Tips from

It’s time to stock up the cooler, spread out the blanket and bask in the sunshine…because tomorrow is International Picnic Day!  And with the official start of summer occurring on June 21, a whole season of picnicking is about to begin.  So here are our top  ten picnic tips to get you perfectly prepared:

1.    Keep it simple. Stick to a menu of summertime favorites that you can serve all at the same time.  Guests can leisurely help themselves while you kick back and relax.

2.     Make things interesting. Even classics like fried chicken, watermelon and potato salad can be updated with a new recipe.  Or visit your local deli or gourmet market for a picnic made by pros.

3.     Cool it. Freeze bottles of water or juice to use as ice packs until they’re ready to drink.  Ice the cooler several hours beforehand to keep it colder longer, but be sure to keep some ice separate to put in drinks.

4.     Pack wisely. Use lidded plastic containers to keep things fresh and prevent spills.  Pack dressings separately to avoid soggy salads.  For condiments, many brands now offer convenient “picnic packs.”  But you still can’t beat individual fast food packets, so save your extras!

5.     Keep it light. Once you consolidate your supplies, make sure they’re simple to carry and not too heavy.  Some picnic spots are quite a hike. 

6.     Set the table or blanket. Bring extra plates or platters for serving, large spoons for salads, at least one sharp knife, and an opener for wine or bottles.  To keep things organized, put food and drinks in separate coolers.

7.     Be prepared. Sunscreen, bug spray, a waterproof picnic blanket, umbrellas and a first aid kit should protect you from most of the elements.

8.     Avoid these. Foods that don’t transport well (ice cream, puddings, frosted cakes) should stay off the menu.  And keep in mind that sweet and sticky tends to attract wasps and bees.

9.     Clean up. You can never have enough hand wipes—especially if you opt for barbeque.  And be sure to bring extra bags for leftover food and trash.

10.    Stay flexible. Even the best laid plans—and picnics—are weather dependent, but no one ever said you can’t picnic indoors.  If the skies turn stormy, move the meal inside, lay the blanket on the floor and stay in the summertime spirit!


Tips for Graduation Party Season


Summertime is in the air…along with graduation caps at high schools and colleges all over the country! It’s graduation season again, which means announcements in your mailbox, invitations on your calendar and graduation cards on your shopping list.

So once you find the perfect card for the proud grad, how can you put your worldly wisdom into just the right words? Sometimes starting with a great line from a great mind will help you come up with your own idea. Here are some examples of how to combine a few popular quotes with a personal message:

  • Graduation is proof that “if you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”  ~William Arthur Ward. This is just the beginning of the incredible things you can do. Congratulations!
  •  Congratulations on your graduation! From today forward, anything is possible. 
  •  “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ~Les Brown 
  •  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” And you have what it takes to do wonderful things. Congratulations!
  •  The tassle is worth the hassel!  You did it!  Congrats.

 Now for the gift… 

While money is the most common (and welcome) gift for grads, there’s often some questions about the appropriate amount. Of course your financial situation is the biggest determining factor, and most people give more for college than high school, but if you still want a ballpark figure: $25 tends to be on the low end while $75-100 is generous for a close relative. Yet, any amount is fun to receive when presented in a creative way…

  • Roll the money into a scroll and tie it like a diploma.
  • Tape the bills together to be pulled out of a tissue box decorated in their school colors.
  • Visit the website of their future college and get a gift card from the campus bookstore. 
  • Personalize and send an ecard with a digital gift card to one of their fave places to shop.

Graduation season is an exciting time for students, but it’s important for all of us to remember that “in real life, every day you graduate.  Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.” Arie Pencovici