Everyone loves a summer party, whether it is an informal picnic on the banks of the river at Henley or a grand summer ball with swirling gowns, an orchestra and fireworks. Whatever your choice the summer makes it possible to employ all the strategies of an imaginative party planner but with a much greater choice of fresh food, flowers, decoration, venues (including marquees) and even entertainment.

A summer party that draws to a close with the scent of honeysuckle, jasmine and new-mown hay on the night air can hardly ever fail to be very special indeed. As we have organised a number of summer events in the past why not draw on a few of our ideas that have helped to guarantee a great party during the summer months.

For an outside party in high summer go Provencal style. Hire in rustic furniture, cover your tables with Provencal fabric, hang bunches of lavender tied with lavender raffia to the back of the chairs and use great bowls of lemons or cherries as table centres. Serve sticks of French bread, smelly cheeses, pate, olives, huge bowls of tossed salad, gallons of red wine and lashings of strawberries and cream!

Buy an old tin bath, paint it a bright colour, fill it half full with ice and then top up to the brim with individual pots of refreshing fruit sorbets and ice creams, guests can help themselves whenever they get hot. Do make sure there are plenty of spoons to hand.

]If you are holding a party in the depths of the city, but would still like to have a summer country feel, hire or buy a green and white striped gazebo, erect it at one end of your reception area, stuff it full of pot plants, small trees and cut flowers at a low level as if they are growing and put fake grass on the floor.

This creates a summer garden atmosphere, to make it even more authentic you could have great baskets of dried lavender, and a small aviary inside the gazebo full of white doves. The finishing touch would be a pretty summer bar serving Pimms or champagne.

Light the walkway to your venue with a series of flaming ‘Olympic’ torches.

Instead of a traditional sit-down meal or buffet have a Hawaiian style barbecue with barbecued seafood, which can include crab and lobster and small roasted exotic vegetables, followed by tropical fruit and ice-cream. Give all your guests grass skirts and tropical flower leys.

Unusual table gifts for summer parties are fresh cherries presented in cellophane bags that are tied with bright red ribbon bows.

Hire an ice bar to stand near the dance floor. This is a really great gimmick to cool down vigorous dancers. Both the bar and glasses are made of solid ice and if lit from behind with coloured lights the effect is absolutely stunning.

Place tall glass vases around the room filled with submerged seashells and orchids, which can be held, as if suspended under water, by the employment of thick clear but invisible cellophane.

If a venue won’t allow candles then suspend glass garden lanterns, filled with colourful flower heads, and light from below with spotlights.

Cooking outside on a barbecue should be well away from where guests can inhale smoke and fumes. Try to make the food adventurous with lots of exotic salads and side dishes to complement the meat.

Give chairs a special summer garden touch, with a sumptuous chair back floral posy made from lots of beautiful roses, lilies, ribbons and ivy etc.

If you are holding your party outside but the venue walls are rather plain and you want to create a fabulous and unusual effect, hire in a lighting company to throw colour washes onto the walls – this is a wonderful way to create atmosphere.

If you are anticipating a hot weather, place a small decorative fan at each table setting.

Hire a riverside venue with punts, a jazz band and traditional picnic food and drink.

Tiny red roses can add beauty to a summer champagne cocktail. Insert a toothpick into the base of each blossom and balance delicately inside your glass rim.

For a happy reminder of a special event in your own garden, give your guests a “growing” gift. Fill small terracotta pots with potting compost and then sprinkle with mixed herb seeds. Cut coloured card to fit just inside the top rim of the pots and write the words ‘WATER ME’ on these lids, then wrap in cellophane and tie with a pretty bow. As the seedlings grow your guests will be reminded of a perfect garden party.

Given that you have the room, why not consider hiring in a fun fair which will appeal to guests of all ages.

Instead of the normal champagne reception, employ a talented barman or two to run a Caribbean-style cocktail bar. Be inventive, as well as exotic cocktails use lots of different flavoured ice cubes and fresh fruit in beautifully decorated bowls with non-alcoholic punch for children and elderly relatives.

For a jungle-style party, as well as bringing in lots of greenery and palms try covering the tables with fake fur in zebra or leopard and use inverted pith helmets for containers holding exotic fruit and flowers.

For midsummer parties in a marquee, where it can get horribly stuffy, strategically place great bowls of coloured ice-cubes around the perimeter of the marquee. Make sure you use food colourings in case people are so hot they decide to suck the ice cubes. The cubes can be coloured to complement your flowers etc. An alternative idea to colouring is to freeze a small rose-head in each cube.

If you are serving a fruit punch adorn it with slices of strawberry and ice cubes with a rose petal frozen into the centre of each one.

To keep your guests extra cool purchase tiny lemon-coloured flannels, soak these in water with a few drops of lemon oil added, then offer these refreshing aids to guests, hot and bothered from high activity on the dance floor. The trick here is not to offer these refresher pads from an ordinary bowl but from an ice bowl made with pieces of lemon frozen into the sides.

To make the ice bowl:

Stand a large glass bowl in a sink and tape a smaller plastic bowl inside, so that the top of both bowls will be level when water is poured between them. Pour bottled or filtered water to fill the gap between the bowls and arrange lemon slices between the bowls. Place a couple of weights or tin cans inside the small bowl and freeze. When the water has frozen, fill a sink with hot water and immerse the bowls up to their rims for 10 seconds. Remove and twist the larger bowl away from the ice. Fill the small bowl with hot water, leave for 10 seconds, and carefully lift it away from the ice bowl. Freeze the ice bowl until it is needed.

For a dramatic effect at the entrance to your party, put 50 – 100 single orchid plants in old terracotta pots on a low wooden bench. Cover the bench with moss, pushing it in between the plants, and position realistic decorative butterflies on a few of the flower heads. If you can’t afford to buy real orchids silk ones are very convincing!

Freeze small fruits, like grapes and strawberries, for a quick refresher.

Hire a bubble machine to add froth and fun on the dance floor or even your garden.

A really cool effect can be achieved by hiring dramatic water effects from lavish fountains to waterfalls.

Finally why not hold a beach themed party, either inside or in your garden. You can replace chairs with sand and beach mats or a few park benches and have some polystyrene boulders, large seashells and beach pebbles lying around. Put up a few beach umbrellas and use seaside posters on prominent walls.

You could even add a surf board to the décor and have sea sounds CDs playing. Keep the party dress code for the beach and serve a selection of seafood and lots of cool fruity drinks. A good touch would be to hire a real ice cream stall for guests to have a seaside cornet when they wanted.