HOT AND HUMID
Set out a sprinkler near the party.
The light mist will cool the air, and the sound of running water will refresh guests. (Giddy ones might even run through.)
Melting drinks and clammy hands don't mix.
Place a handful of multicolored rubber bands around cocktail and water glasses before setting them out.
Muggy air means bees and mosquitos.
Shoo bees away from the guest area by placing glasses of water mixed with sugar syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled) around party borders. For mosquito control, leave bug repellent near the party entrance so guests can spritz themselves on the way in.
Be prepared for a mad dash indoors.
Place an outdoor rug at the entrance and a shoe rack inside. Leave out plastic bags for guests to stash things like soggy purses.
Tough it out a sprinkle under a store-bought canopy.
(As long as there's no thunder or lightning, that is.) Keep the grill going, too, by covering it with an umbrella made of flame-retardant fabric. Huddle tables together and chow down family-style.
In case of an all-out storm, include a rain date in the invite.
Send e-cards, which let you alert all guests at once if there?s a change.
Don't let wet grounds squash the fun.
If it rained before your party, have guests go barefoot and set out buckets or a hose for quick cleanups before they leave.
Keep decorations low to the table.
Avoid balloons, which can tangle, and anchor flowers into vases using floral foam instead of water (or fully submerge them like we did in a similar centerpiece!).
Stemmed glasses could topple in the wind.
Use tumblers instead, turning them upside down before serving so they don't collect dust from the breeze. Anchor napkins with a paperweight -- try a seashell, a small coconut or a mini photo frame with your favorite summer pic.
Have coverups on hand for chilly guests.
Think beach towels, scarves and throws for draping over shoulders and laps. Just refresh fabric with a quick toss into the dryer.
BRAVE THE ELEMENTS
Hunker down against the extremes with these rain-, heat- and windproof party accessories.
1. Stop disposable plates from being gone with the wind. Snap them into Paper Plate Holders. ($9 for 8; lillianvernon.com)
2. Keep rain (and bugs) out of your cocktail: Insulated Tervis Island Tumblers have lids. ($11, lid $2; tervis.com)
3. Hide food from bugs -- not guests. Top plates with Steel Mesh Food Covers. ($13 for 3; lillianvernon.com)
4. Invisible Playing Cards are waterproof and weighted so they won?t blow away. ($8.50; momastore.org)
5. Help guests beat the heat. Scatter Bamboo Frame Color Paper Hand Fans around the party area. ($1.50; pearlriver.com)
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*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in August 2009.