There’s no place like home. That’s the recurring message at summer celebrations across Long Island. Amid health concerns, at-home and backyard parties are bigger than ever.
“Celebrating milestones is still really important, especially now,” said Dianne Galante, founder of family site mamasposts.com. “Finding ways to make things festive in not so festive times is a challenge.”
A strong motif is a good starting point to build around. Details — menu, decorations, entertainment — will follow. Popular party options that you can rent or purchase jazz up any home event under the sun, or the moon.
Galante’s theme for a backyard birthday toast for both her daughter and son-in-law was “family fiesta.” “I reached out to local stores for creative energy,” said Galante. The cake, decorated in Crayola-bright ruffled layers of icing, came from Sara’s World of Cupcakes in Ronkonkoma. A churro station came from Senor Tacos in Nesconset. “The party was small but still special,” she said.
Andrea Correale, owner of Elegant Affairs in Glen Cove, agrees that less can be more. “It’s all about small groups, family and very close friends you feel comfortable with now,” she said. “Everyone wants to be socially responsible. Everyone wants to have a good time.”
Putting up a big top in the backyard can add magic. (It worked for "The Greatest Showman.") A party tent sets the scene and lends focus. It protects you when Mother Nature crashes your bash. Add strings of lights and in the evening it’ll glow and look like fireflies have joined in.
Diana Carannante included a canopy for the July 19 poolside bridal shower at her home in East Meadow for her daughter Laura. “It was so hot,” said Carannante, 62 who drives a school bus. “I’m glad we had it.” She shopped Amazon.com and bought a tent. G&S Party Tent Rentals in Massapequa is among the options for renting one on Long Island.
Having a party this summer? Here are trendy ways to make it day or night to remember.
Melt guests’ hearts with frozen treats
“We’ve always celebrated special events with ice cream cakes,” said Donna Larney, who lives in Islip. She upped the ante for her granddaughter’s 11th birthday pool party in August. She called upon Elaine Piotrowski, owner of Roxy’s Ice Cream Truck, to park in her driveway for an hour of personal, socially distanced treat service for guests. “Please wear a face mask” is written on the Roxy’s special event truck. Package prices start around $200.
Another frosty option: Andy’s Italian Ices NYC, whose owner, East Meadow resident Andrew Miscioscia, has a fittingly frosty mantra for the food truck: “Have an ice day.”
Send a message with a backyard billboard
“People are determined to make special events as festive as possible,” said Sign Gypsies of LI co-owner Theresa Re, whose business “has quadrupled” since March. Signs, which start at around $109, are usually positioned on front lawns. Placing them in backyards — Happy Birthday Joe, in Locust Valley; Happy Birthday Adam, in Sag Harbor — has gained new popularity this summer. “That’s where the party is,” said Re.
Layer on the love with a custom cake
Rachael DiSanza, 30, a ShopRite customer service manager who lives in Deer Park, had a clear vision for a small party to mark her daughter Maddie’s first birth in July: “Mermaid everything.” She reeled in a delightful two-tiered whopper of a cake, which, like Galante, was from Sara’s World of Cupcakes. Cake prices there range from $20-$70.
Screen a movie or a ballgame al fresco
Drive-in movies are a hit again, but you don’t need a car for the open-air cinematic experience. Lawn chairs or blankets will do. “We make house calls for backyard movies,” said Marc Makely, who owns Encore Rentals NY in Bohemia. They bring the screen, projector and attendant who stays for the run of the show. Prices start at $279.
Pump up the party with cool inflatables
Sviatlana Vlad, who lives in Seaford with her husband and two kids, marked her 32nd birthday with a backyard pool party with a handful of her besties. A light-as-air sculpture created by Laurie Ferrara, owner of Balloons by Laurie, made for Instagram-ready moments. “Balloons create happiness,” Vlad said.
A Champagne bottle-shaped balloon with pink, gold and white balloon bubbles popping out and rising about five feet in the air added cheer to Carannante’s poolside bridal shower. Two weeks after the party, more than memories remained, said Carannante. “The balloon sculpture is still in my living room.” Balloon packages run $100 and up.
Serve singular taste sensations
Good food elevates any party. Today, hosts have to go beyond what’s on the menu to how chow is served. Communal buffets are out. Correale has introduced individualized edibles at Elegant Affairs — from mini cheese boards to boozy frozen pops. Check with the company for prices.
Lindsay Aliseo, 41, a marketing specialist at Long Island Exclusive who lives in Massapequa Park, followed the single-serve route when her daughter Savannah turned 5 in July. To avoid lots of little hands in a big bowl of snacks, she said, “I served individual bags of chips and juice boxes.”