Ty Kuppig is the principal of Tyger Productions, a creative special events firm. Kuppig's background in architecture and design has influenced his unique approach to the special events industry. His attention to detail, understanding of spatial planning, and love of interior design allow Ty to create unparalleled event experiences. With offices in New York and Boston, Kuppig and his team work with Fortune 500 clients across the country as well as individuals and families.
We asked event designer Ty Kuppig, of Tyger Productions, to share some of his best summer entertaining ideas and tricks with us. Read below for his pro tips on everything from the one thing all parties need to his must-have seasonal cocktail.
1. When planning a summer party, where do you start?
Start by picking a location where you love to spend time. It can be in the comfort of your home, nestled in your garden, ankle-deep in sand at a nearby beach, along a river or lake, or even on your rooftop (assuming you live in the city). If you're excited by it, your guests will be too!
Tip! When selecting a location, keep in mind proximity to restrooms, access to a kitchen, and temperature control/sun exposure to ensure your guests are comfortable.
2. Does every party need a theme? If not, how do you begin decorating without one?
The top priority when planning any party should be fun and ease for your guests. If you would like to infuse a theme into your gathering, make sure it's one that will excite your guests without overwhelming them. Their comfort should be the driving force, so engage them rather than burden them with responsibility. If themed-attire or costumes are part of your plan, "invite" guests to take part and avoid words like "required."
Tip! Fun, theme-inspired cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and hand-selected playlists are great ways to incorporate your concept without driving yourself crazy.
Photo: Tyger Productions
3. When planning a menu for a summer party, what are your go-to apps, drinks, mains, and desserts?
Keep it light and fresh! After a winter of heavier menus, guests will appreciate fresh options loaded with color. Chilled gazpacho, fresh greens salads, grilled seafood skewers, and fruit sorbets are easy, healthy and delicious ways to keep your guests cool and satisfied. And don't forget the wine! A dry rosé is a great accompaniment to any summer menu.
Tip! To keep your guest's wine cool outdoors, freeze cubes of rosé (or any drink you're serving) and offer them to guests when pouring their wine.
4. How do you create conversation areas in an outdoor space/patio? And what are some easy ways to create additional seating outdoors?
One of our favorite techniques to transform outdoor spaces is to use a mix of indoor furniture, outdoor pieces and natural objects. Outdoor entertaining should be an extension of your home.
Tip! Be very selective when choosing pieces to move outside…not all furniture will look at home on your terrace. For example, your comfy, over-stuffed sofa should probably remain indoors. However, garden stools and casual chairs are ideal for outdoor use.
Photo: Dei Gratia Photography
5. Daytime vs. evening parties, what challenges and benefits does each time of day present, and how do you plan for each time differently?
When planning a daytime party, it's important to consider sun exposure and outside temperature between 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. While the weather may look perfect, the last thing you want is your guests to leave redder than the lobster you boiled for them! Always provide guests with covered areas and spray sunblock in lots of SPFs.
Evening parties are also a nice option for entertaining in the warmer months. Sharing a dramatic sunset with your guests can be a memorable summer experience, but biting bugs and mosquitos can put a damper on your party. In the early evening, light natural insect repelling candles around the perimeter of your party and offer guests natural or DEET-free sprays for their convenience.
Tip! When planning daytime and evening parties, consider how close your party is to a mealtime. Always serve hors d'oeuvres or light snacks. If your party falls close to lunchtime or dinner, it's always best to go the extra mile and plan ahead with a more robust menu that will satiate your guests.
6. What does every summer party need?
A relaxed and engaged host. Summer parties are meant to be fun and your guests are coming to spend time with you, so be sure to stay calm and collected. Make a point to spend at least a moment with each of your guests. It never hurts to have a talking point, anecdote, or question in mind for each.
Tip! When planning a party, it's easy to get overwhelmed and stressed. When this happens, step back, take a breath, and simplify your to-do list by removing one item. The key to any good party is remembering that it's just that—a PARTY.
7. If you can only splurge on one thing for a summer party, what should it be and why?
Live music. While a well-selected iPod playlist is an easy option for background music, nothing compares to live entertainment at a party. Whether it be a solo pianist, a jazz trio, or even a Carribean steel drums ensemble, live music brings a special and memorable energy to any event.
Tip! The music departments at colleges and universities are a great resource to tap for entertainment. Music students in these programs jump at the opportunity to perform and are a very cost-effective option.
8. Do you have any foolproof tips for decorating/setting up a last-minute party? How do you make it look pulled together instead of thrown together?
The "Occasions Closet," as made famous by characters Mitch and Cam on a recent episode of the popular sitcom "Modern Family," is the ultimate arsenal for party prep. Creating a special mood for last-minute entertaining in your home is as simple as having a well-stocked reserve of supplies on-hand at all times.
Tip! Fill your party arsenal with candles, linen napkins, napkin rings, vases for fresh flowers, accent pillows, specialty glassware, and decorative trays. These items quickly change the tone of your home in minutes!
9. What's your go-to summer cocktail? (Recipe please!)
Margaritas are so last summer. This season we suggest the Patrón Julep.
Ingredients: 1.5-2 ounces Patrón Silver 3 ounces fresh apple juice 12 mint leaves 1/2 of a freshly-squeezed lime Lemonade Club soda Large sprig of mint for garnish
Muddle the mint leaves in a tall glass with the lime and apple juices. Fill the glass with ice, add tequila, then top with lemonade and a splash of club soda. Stir and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
Tip! The sprig of mint garnish should be sitting at the top of the glass, right next to the straw. This is because it serves to enhance the smell of the drink as you bring the straw to your mouth.