25 Tips to Take Outdoor Entertaining Up a Notch

June 02, 2014

25 Tips to Take Outdoor Entertaining Up a Notch

One of the best parts of summer is outdoor entertaining.  Whether you are planning a family-friendly barbecue blow-out or a sophisticated evening party on the patio, you can take your entertaining up a notch with our 25 easy tips.

Bring the Indoors Out

Don’t discount easy-to-move indoor furniture and décor! They lend a funky feel and make outdoor spaces comfier:

1. Set up an impromptu drinks station near your seating area with a mobile cart or console table.
2. Arrange couch cushions and poufs on a large blanket to create a cozy conversation nook.
3. Create a backyard living room with a cot or futon layered with pillows, a throw rug, and light side chairs.
4. Set your picnic table with a pretty patterned tablecloth and mismatched china and dishes for a fun, shabby chic feel.
5. Need extra dining seating? Use small throw pillows to soften patio seats, and mix in dining chairs.
6. Hang a small chandelier above an outdoor table for make-a-statement wow (lit or not!)

Deal with Pests and Breezes

They’re part of the great outdoors! Best to have a plan:

7. Ring the eating and seating area with citronella torches or candles to light after dark.
8. Keep tablecloths from blowing about; pin a sandwich baggie filled with beans to inside corners.
9. Use upside-down mesh colanders to cover bee friendly dishes.
10. Tuck bug repellant wipes and sprays into a pretty pail for easy guest access.

Celebrate Outdoor Elements

Incorporate nature into your décor for a pretty, casual feel:

11. Fill summery sand pails or flower pots with floral arrangements, dining utensils on a buffet, or line with wax paper and fill with tall snacks like breadsticks or pretzel rods.
12. Use seashells or river rocks to decorate place settings and weigh down napkins.
13. Float garden flowers in a shallow dish for an inexpensive and bright addition to a table.
14. Tie silverware rolled up in a napkin with garden twine.
15. Make a long centerpiece out of casually arranged greens, moss, stones, and flowers from your garden.

Light it Up!

Keep the party going long after dark:

16. Hang lanterns from sturdy tree limbs surrounding your outdoor space or seating area.
17. String lots of plain white party lights — in trees, along fences, throughout foliage, and under an umbrella for a festive feel.
18. Use battery powered “candles” in clusters on decks, buffet tables, and seating areas for a beautiful glow.
19. Hang a sheet against a flat wall to project a movie or photo slideshow from.

A Great Time Had By All

What makes a great bash? Make it fun and comfortable for your guests and easy on yourself so you can enjoy the party too:

20. Use brown or white craft paper in rolls to cover tables for a casual look and easy cleanup.
21. If there aren’t enough seats for guests, stick with skewers, finger food, pre-butter corn on the cob, pre-cut desserts like cookies, brownies, and ice cream sandwiches for easy one-handed eating.
22. Use trays to organize essentials, empty glasses near a beverage dispenser, mixers by a bar, and condiments on the buffet.
23. Keep drinks, dips, and other small items chilled by resting in a slightly larger bowl filled with ice.
24. Spread out the fun! Set up a sitting area, dining area, buffet, drinks spot across your outdoor space to keep the party flow going.
25. Don’t forget the music! Pick up a cordless Bluetooth speaker to setup in a central area and enjoy your favorite playlists through the party.

Julie Hartigan

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