Bright sprinkles give roasting marshmallows a vibrant, summery look. Photos by Jeannie Frey Rhodes.

Start the party: Leslie Campbell’s tips for summer celebrations

Cue “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang because good times are most definitely here. School is out and the time has come to take it outside to enjoy friends, family and south Louisiana weather. And while casual, last-minute parties are great, this summer, we’re endorsing the art of over-the-top. We’re talking coordinating colors, confetti balloons and even a signature cocktail.

To get some much-needed inspiration, we turned to someone with the know-how. Leslie Campbell has been planning parties across Baton Rouge for years and it’s more than likely you’ve heard her name. We reached out to the pro herself for tips, tricks and how to avoid common mistakes.

1. When deciding on decorations for a party, what are some of your go-to ways to make a space feel pulled together and complete?

When decorating for parties in the summer, I always look for flowers in a cheerful color, along with liners and chairs that complement the setting. I like to make use of containers or platters that I have, or that have been passed down to me. I also think about my favorite parties and why I liked them so much. Then, I try to implement some of those special touches.

2. Do you have any cost-saving tricks that don’t sacrifice the overall look of the party?

Upscale disposables are better than they have ever been, and they are perfect for summer parties.

3. How do you keep themes fresh?

Keep it simple in the summer! Less is more. It’s fine to have a theme, but sometimes just some bright colors and live music can jazz up the atmosphere.

4. What do you think is the biggest mistake people make in pulling together a party?

I think the biggest mistake people make is trying to do it all themselves. Doing too much stresses people out and prevents the host from enjoying the party. Treat yourself and hire a bartender, or someone to help keep everything straight during the party. Also, it’s fine to prepare food yourself, but it’s much easier to prepare some and have other items delivered to you. Guests will feel more welcomed if the host is actually enjoying the party, too! In the end, it will be worth the extra expense.

5. Last year was flamingo and swan floaties, what do you think will be the summer party must-have this year?

I’m not sure about the newest floatie rage, but I highly recommend serving spiked snowballs at summer soirées!

For more on Campbell and her parties, check out her website here and her social media here.