With your big (fill in age here) just around the corner, it’s time to start some serious party planning. You’ve got a hankering for something a little different than your typical go-to (cocktails, finger foods, everyone ends up hanging in the kitchen) and moving the festivities to your backyard seems like just the solution.
Before you lay out the snacks and turn up the tunes, check out our list of musts for planning an outdoor party to make your fete a swinging success.
1. Check the weather. Yes, this is a totally obvious suggestion. But how many times have you planned that picnic/beach jaunt/hike assuming sunshine, only to be faced with the one time in months it’s rained? Right. Check the weather.
2. Put it on the invite. Really this is all about shoes. Nobody likes to show up to an event in expensive heels only to spend the entire evening trying to keep them clean. Let guests know that the party will be outdoors and if they choose to wear their Manolos, well, that’s on them.
3. Talk to your neighbors. You don’t don’t need to invite them, you just need to make sure they don’t call the cops with a noise complaint. Give them the dish on when the party is taking place and offer up your cell number so they can let you know personally if your guests are getting too loud.
4. Seating, seating, seating. Every invitee needs a place to put their bum–and directly on the lawn is not an option. If you don’t already have outdoor furniture, now is the time to invest in some. Not in the budget? Go bohemian. Pick out some inexpensive folding chairs and trick them out with pretty cushions. Alternately, you could simply rent them for the event. Many party-rental businesses are surprisingly reasonable.
5. Tables, tables, tables. Even if you’re not throwing a sit-down dinner, guests still need a spot to set their cups and plates. More importantly, you need a surface to place food on. No outdoor furniture and minimal cash flow? No worries. Snag a few folding tables, cover them with a fun, easy-to-clean tablecloth and decorate with a pretty centerpiece or a candle.
6. Beat the bugs. With or without food they will come. Keep them at bay with citronella candles, torches and plenty of bug spray.
7. Protect your food and keep drinks cold. No host wants to spend their party running back and forth from the kitchen. However, leaving food out can lead to swarms of bugs, critters and spoilage. Eliminate the back-and-forth by serving snacks in two or three waves and protect delicate yummies (anything that’s not chips) with plastic or mesh food covers. Look for outdoor serving pieces that have built-in ice trays to help keep food cold.
As for drinks, keep them outdoors in coolers, buckets or wash basins filled with ice.
9. Make a place for trash. An outdoor garbage can means guests don’t have to traipse indoors. Pick one with a cover to prevent a swarm of flies.
10. Set a mood. The porch light isn’t going to cut it. Give your backyard a little ambiance with light strings and festive lanterns.
11. Keep guests warm. When sun goes down, the temperature drops. We guarantee not everyone will remember to bring a sweater or jacket. Keep a few extras on hand, as well as some cozy shawls or throws to borrow. Place them in a basket outside for easy access. If you really enjoy entertaining in the evenings, invest in an outdoor fire pit, which adds both warmth and style. There’s nothing quite like gathering in the flickering firelight on a cool evening!
Did we forget an outdoor party must-have? let us know in the space below.