Outdoor entertaining requires careful preparation to ensure a memorable summer party experience for guests. Consider providing ample seating, tasty refreshments, fun decor elements and entertainment as part of an enjoyable event.
Simple table settings require nothing more than brown craft paper laid across the table to achieve a casual yet sophisticated appearance and easy cleanup. As an entertaining activity, provide crayons so guests can draw on it until dinner is ready!
1. Add a Fireplace
Add an outdoor fireplace to any patio for the perfect place for gatherings – be it an outdoor living room, deck or backyard – and provide the ideal ambiance for entertainment. Not only can a fireplace add value and extend patio season; it can also serve as an inviting gathering spot where friends and family can gather to chat over an afternoon fireside chat or toast marshmallows together!
Stockwell recommends selecting outdoor-specific dinnerware and bar essentials, such as melamine plates that are easy to clean and hold bold colors; large tumblers that accommodate various beverages; and silverware caddies to organize silverware. She suggests providing entertainment options for children to distract their parents while sipping sangria, such as blowing bubbles and providing slip ‘n slides or box of sparklers that the whole group can share in.
2. Create a Seating Area
Seating should always be top of mind when planning an outdoor party, whether or not your budget allows for new seating sets. Instead, try adding some upholstered benches or throw blankets as alternatives.
An outdoor cooler or galvanized metal tub can do wonders to keep beverages chilled when entertaining a large group. They’re also great for serving appetizers and desserts as well as storing extra supplies like napkins, silverware and decor.
Divide larger spaces into functional zones for dining, lounging, sunbathing or games to add dimension and define zones. Doing this also helps prevent large open areas from feeling empty – planter beds, hardscaping or decorative pillows may help accomplish this effect. Defined seating areas make cleaning easier while being less susceptible to wind-blown debris accumulation.
3. Add a Bar
An impressive bar is key to successful outdoor entertaining. Whether it’s a casual family barbecue or an elaborate Fourth of July bash, beverages will surely bring everyone together!
While an extensive built-in bar might be in your backyard patio plans, less permanent options can be just as fun and functional. A refurbished kitchen cart can serve as both an outdoor mini bar and extra counter space when food prep needs arise.
Add creative touches to your bar design with decorative pieces like backdrops or accent pieces, such as grass skirts and vibrant decor like these to bring out its tropical theme. Bug zappers nearby help keep bugs away, which is especially important as summer transitions into fall when evening temperatures may decrease.
4. Add Plants
Create the perfect outdoor space without spending a fortune. From dining tables and bar carts to smaller items that will elevate your patio and make guests happy, there are numerous budget-friendly solutions available that will add style and comfort.
Stock your entertaining essentials with essentials that are both versatile and user-friendly, such as a large galvanized tub to use as both a cooler and set of melamine plates for easy cleanup. Stocking your bar cart with extra glasses, ice, cocktail shaker and swizzle sticks allows you to distribute drinks throughout your yard and move it back to the kitchen when refills are required.
Games that will keep children (and adults!) entertained for hours include giant tumbling timbers or playing corn hole or TWISTER. In order to keep pests at bay, non-scented mosquito repellent and citronella candles may also come in handy.
5. Add Lighting
As night falls, a few key lighting elements can transform your patio into an ideal entertainment space. Low-hanging lanterns or floor lamps like those seen here from Renovation Bay-Bee can create an intimate and relaxing ambience suited for lounging outside and setting the scene for summer dinner parties.
Lanterns made from wrought iron or cast aluminum add rustic charm to any patio, while still fitting into different home styles from traditional to modern.
Encourage guests to mingle by setting up self-serve drink stations around the patio. Guests can move freely between drinks and appetizers, increasing the odds that they’ll meet new people. Prepare a bar cart with glasses, ice cubes and cocktail shaker for quick refills of beverages and shaker cocktails.