By Jodie DeLoach
Photography by Caroline Maxcy Fox & Lisa Taylor Hall 

How many of us would go back to the ‘good ole days’ if we could—the days when distrust wasn’t the go-to emotion and people rarely locked their doors? The days when “it took a village” and the village actually stepped up to do their part? The days when there was less run around for the sake of being busy and more intentional time spent on what truly mattered? 

It wasn’t that life used to be easier. In a sense, I believe life was harder, but I think we can all agree, it was a much simpler time. When I think of the difference between then and now, the first thing that comes to mind is togetherness. It has, and forever will, take a village—to raise a child, to run a successful organization, to create a thriving society. Behind every great success is a unity of people, leaning into each other’s strengths, diligently spending time together.

Nowadays it seems we are all running this chaotic rat race society has convinced us is “just life”. We feel the expectation to do it all, all the time, and rarely get together for the simple act of being together. Time to unwind with humans that fill our hearts and souls. Time to relax, talk about life, what’s worked, what hasn’t. Time to be inspired by others. To learn, to laugh, to love, to refuel… so that when we all get back to everyday life, because we must, we have more kindness and grace to give to ourselves and others. 

Friends, it’s SUMMERTIME ’tis the season for togetherness! 

Speaking of seasons, I often find myself saying… “This season! This one is my favorite.” Cool fall nights gathered around a fire, the magic of winter with the ones I am so lucky to love, the new growth and beginnings that come with spring. It all lights me up inside. But then comes summer… and it may or may not be because it’s our current season, but it’s most certainly my current favorite. 

There is just something so special about these long summer days that turn into cool summer nights. The weather. The vacations. The somewhat lax routines that allow for just a little more time together. I am 100% here for it. 

Not to mention, most of my best memories from childhood involve summer. Back in the “good ole days” we spent all day outdoors, roaming the neighborhood, playing in the sprinkler, riding bikes with friends, catching lightning bugs. If you’re anything like me, from the moment you woke up until the moment mama called you in for dinner, you were outside.

I know the world today is different and I believe we must be a little more cautious and a lot more strategic, but I also, to the depths of my soul, believe humans are happier together. Together outdoors is a bonus. Especially here. We are so lucky to be planted in Florida. 

Sooooo, I vote we get back to it. Let’s get back to our roots. Let’s get back to being together, for the mere point of being together so our souls are reignited! Let’s get our kids outside, roaming, playing, spending less time in front of a screen and more time tapping into each other’s imaginations. 

Summer is the perfect season for gathering, but talk about a change in times! Hosting can be so overwhelming nowadays. The theme. The decorations. The expectation to outdo Pinterest Patty down the street who always goes over the top. While we’re here, can that be another thing we vow to change? Comparison. We are all just doing the best we can, and that is enough. Repeat after me… What you do, and/or do not do, has nothing to do with “her.”

I am quick to open my doors. I absolutely adore having the people we love gathered at our home, but that is because I have found a way to enjoy hosting, and make it look like I am Savvy Sally slinging parties while ballin’ on a budget. Whether you want to get your own babies outdoors this summer or schedule more togetherness by hosting a gathering for family and friends, I’ve got a few tips to help you be the hostess with the mostest… without you wanting to lose it in the process: 

Plan It


I am a firm believer that if we don’t carve out the time for togetherness, it won’t happen. Something will come up. And in a day and time where accommodating everyone else before ourselves is embedded into our brains, I fully give you permission to host on your terms. When, where, what you want. Around your baby’s nap schedule, on a Thursday because that is your favorite day of the week, etc. 

Timing Is Everything

Planning the menu seems to be the most overwhelming part of most parties. I personally love having foods that I can prepare ahead of time, so I get to spend time with my guests. If you do not want the responsibility of serving a meal, don’t. Host your party in between mealtimes and throw out some grab-and-go snacks. This will also naturally set parameters on the length of the party as most will start to gradually leave around the next mealtime. Win. Win.

Invite Your People

Hear a sister out—one of the biggest lessons I have learned in hosting is letting go of the energy suckers. You know who I am talking about—the people that drain the life right out of you. Those people don’t get to come to your party. They simply don’t! And I know what you are thinking, there is absolutely no way you can get away with not inviting cousin Negative Nancy. You can! You absolutely can. When hosting, it is in fact your party—you can have your cake and eat it too… alongside whomever you want to share it with. 

Hit Up The Dollar Tree

I am starting a petition to change the name to The Dollar .25 Store – who’s signing? But on the real, if you haven’t rummaged the aisles of DT lately, you are severely missing out. I am a DIY’er at heart. I love to create things on my own. But if the thought of crafting makes you panic, sister, DT has you covered. I am also cheap, but let me tell ya, their seasonal décor and party section won’t let you down! A pro to shopping at The Dollar Tree is that I do not have to fret if/when things get ruined. Let the guests go hard–and if the toys/décor survive, great, if not, toss ‘em!


Picnic Set Up

I am a big fan of picnics – makes for a great “kids table” and can be as simple as tossing it out or fancied up with throw pillows and chargers (psst Dollar Tree). Adults dig it too. The riser is just a pallet, cut in half, and painted, and the blanket was snagged on clearance at Walmart. It’s great quality, goes right in the wash after each use, and zips up for tidy storage. 


What kid (or adult for that matter) doesn’t love bubbles? They add pizzazz to an already bubbly good time. I grab bubble wands every time I see them on sale. Pro tip: grab a big ole mama jama bottle of refill, because you know little Sally is going to dump her wand out immediately. 

Sand Toys

I personally am not a fan of sand. It gets into every nook and cranny and seems to show up for days on end… but there is something so special about sitting in the sand (or dirt) with my littles, chatting, building, and if you’ve got little boys, demolishing. Pro tip: grab a mesh laundry bag for storage. Throw them in the bag, sand and all, dunk in the water a time or two, and you’re ready to roll. 

Bar Cart

This gem was salvaged and with a little love was brought back to life. You know what they say—one’s trash is another’s treasure. It makes for an amazing piece at any party for adults or littles. Fill it up, drink it down! 

One more time for those in the back… when it comes to hosting, we aren’t participating in the ridiculous expectation of doing it all. 

Go ahead and toss perfection out the door. Pick a day, gather your people, and hit up the DT to save a buck! 

Do what you are good at and lean on others’ expertise to do the rest. Ya’ll, summer is here, and the pact has been made!

Thank you to Phillip & Cindy Jones for the use of their beautiful home and property for this photo shoot.