Throw the Perfect Summer Hoedown

Mesene Norbum schools us on the art throwing a casual warm weather bash
Conway Confidential

Swap a luxe affair for a casual summer soiree with these tips.

Summer hoedowns are a crowd pleaser.

When my kids graduated from high school, I decided to throw them each a true summer hoedown. While other parents threw fancy and expensive dinner parties, my goal was to create a fun and relaxed environment where everyone could dress casually and relax. Our party was a huge hit—we had more than 100 guests.

You can create your own summer hoedown with these simple creative elements:

• The Table: You need one long table - set more tables for larger crowds - with a white table cloth, and decorate with sea oats, brown broad-leaf cattails, pussy willow, weeds or anything that is loose and free flowing will work (these should be available from your local farmer’s market or garden supply store). Intersperse white candles for lighting effects. You can also place hay sprinkles on the chairs to complete the look and feel. Fill white vases with blue hydrangeas and sun flowers and place to your taste on the long white table. 

• Dishware: Roll silverware in white napkins (cloth or paper) and tie with raffia and then add a daisy. You can also use bandanas as napkins. Red and white dishes will make the table pop.

• Down Home Cookin’: ribs, chicken, pulled pork, corn on the cob, mac and cheese, beans, slaw, salads, deviled eggs, corn bread.

• Drinks: Get a large (preferably copper or stressed metal) drink bucket, fill with ice and place bottled sodas, water, and lemonade inside. For guests who enjoy alcoholic beverages, kegs round out your bar for a proper hoedown. 

• Desserts: Create a dessert table and adorn with hay, place baskets of cookies, brownies, fruit, and large glass vases filled with favorites like twizzlers, malted milk balls and Swedish fish to give it a fun, young feel.

• Décor: Place bales of hay (available from your nearby farmer’s market or garden supply store) with potted flowers around the table and where your guests come in for the party to create an entrance that lets everyone know they have arrived at the hoedown. A large fire pit with tiered bales of hay surrounding give the hoedown a perfect place for roasting marshmallows after the meal.

• Music: Hire a guitarist/vocalist, banjo, or fiddler who can play Southern favorites to keep the crowd pumped and in the hoedown mood.

This is a super casual summer party that your friends and family will love.

—Mersene Norbom, Conway Confidential

Mersene Norbom is an event and space designer and the owner of Indulge by Mersene in Westport, CT.