Who doesn’t adore the summer? Tossing aside mukluks for marine-blue espadrilles, sun-starved Canadians are at their most sociable and sexy when the mercury’s rising. At the beach, in the park or sitting outside on a restaurant patio in the chicest Jackie Os, there’s something about the touch of sun on skin that lavishes joie de vivre on all. Suddenly, everyone’s in the mood to mingle-just in time for ELLE’s special party guide.

As music is the food of love, we’ve chosen three top Canadian musicians as our party muses: Kingston, Ont., singer Sarah Harmer for a laid-back boho picnic; Montréal-born classical pianist Lucille Chung for an alternative tea party; and Toronto-born R&B singer Deborah Cox for an elegant poolside punch party. “It’s at this time of year that I feel most creative and inspired to write,” says Cox. “I love the warm, balmy breeze of summer and the fact that I can spend quality time doing fun things outdoors. After hibernating over the winter months, just being able to put on cute shorts and flip-flops and head to the beach is the ultimate.”

Summer is a great time to party alfresco. “It’s a casual time of year, and it’s much easier to host a crowd outdoors,” says Vancouver-based party planner Heather Baker (www.amaryllisevents.com).

“In summertime, the smallest things can set off the best parties,” adds event planner Shawna Almeida, from Ottawa (www.hautething.com). “An abundance of fresh mint and sweet strawberries is enough inspiration to throw an impromptu cocktail bash.”

Yoko Ono once said “Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.” It’s a season for love, laughter and sensual treats-and for creating warm memories to hold onto during the winter months. “My best memory of a summer party is a cottage get-together I had with friends by a lake in Haliburton,” remembers Toronto-based event planner Cynthia Martyn (www.cynthiamartyn.com). “As the sun set, we enjoyed gingered lemonade spritzers and spicy Cajun-style crab cakes around the bonfire. A summer party can provide a mini-vacation for your guests – this one did just that.”5 party-planning tips
You’re invited!
“Your invitation is the first impression your guests will have about your event. Build a sense of anticipation with a creative, theme-driven card,” advises Shawna Almeida. “Avoid stuffy language. Even the most engaging host can lose their voice in their choice of words. So be yourself – your guests will pay attention and RSVP
with gusto!”

Party favours
Giving gift bags at the end of an event is a fun way to treat your friends-and extend the party theme. Whether you decide on special teas after a tea party – or pretty pastel pashminas during an evening do – stick to a predetermined budget. One thing’s for sure: everyone likes pretty, little edible goodies (and they certainly won’t break the bank!).

Create a feast
It’s always a pleasure to indulge friends, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration in your local bookstore: Barbecues and Other Outdoor Feasts by Hugo Arnold, Good Day for a Picnic by Jeremy Jackson, Picnics by David Herbert, The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman, Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal, Entertain by Ed Baines, Punch by Colleen Mullaney and The Art of the Cocktail
by Ben Reed.

Set the scene
“Incorporate your palette and theme in every aspect of the decor, from the lighting to the napkins to the playlist,” says Almeida. “Think of each item as
a layer in a watercolour painting-when you’re finished, you’ll have
a beautiful backdrop full of rich detail and personality.” Prepare
for the elements: a tented gazebo will offer shade and protection from unexpected downpours. “And if you’re inviting more than 12 people,” says Baker, “hire a server to help you during the event and for cleanup.”

Look the part
Although you should never try to outglam your guests, do project your own personal styl e- and sex appeal. “A subtle cleavage or peek of midriff will be enough to make you the centre of attention,” say British style mavens Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine in What Not To Wear 2: For Every Occasion. If you’re catering your own party, keep a pretty apron on hand to protect your stylish threads and don’t forget to take lots of photos of your guests.