5 Details You Don’t Want to Forget When Hosting an Outdoor Party

April 17, 2017 by

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urban_outdoor_garden_seating_nyc_urbangardensweb Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton

Outdoor parties can be magical events perfect for celebrating the warmer weather and enjoying all that nature offers.

Hosting a party outdoors can also give guests more room to roam than they might otherwise have indoors. Al fresco entertaining often includes a special brand of whimsy, and gives you an opportunity to play with design ideas and party tricks that will set your event apart from the pack. Are you ready to get creative with an outdoor party that perfectly suits the season?

Brockingham-pool-house1 Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton

Start planning now, and don’t forget to include these five details in your preparations so your gathering will flow smoothly from start to finish.

1. Adequate Seating
Guests will move around the yard and mingle, but that doesn’t mean that they want to stand up for hours at a time. Part of your job as a host is to make everyone you invite as comfortable as possible. If you don’t want to drag out every available chair in your house, what can you do? Determine which furniture you’re fine with bringing outside, and create a loose mix-and-match system based on these pieces. Folding chairs, Adirondack chairs, deck furniture, and dining room furniture are all fair game.

On your quest to provide enough seating, Real Simple suggests spreading blankets around your outdoor space for a picnic-inspired element. Don’t forget to incorporate popular outdoor elements like picnic tables and benches, and even consider hay bales. If you absolutely do not have enough seating to go around, consider asking trusted guests to each bring a chair, or rent some additional folding chairs from a local vendor.

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2. Social Zones
When you’re thinking about where to place the seating, be mindful of the flow you create. Planning your outdoor party zone will also dictate where you place your food and drink stations. J.M. Hirsch, the national food editor for the Associated Press, draws on over 15 years of experience hosting his own steadily growing annual party. As he writes for New Hampshire Magazine: “No matter what size your party, you don’t want everyone clustered in one spot. You also don’t want to spend the party herding people around. The solution is to use seating, food, and drink to create zones guests will naturally gravitate to.”

Plan a layout that provides breakout areas for groups of guests to mingle. Keep in mind that the most highly trafficked areas will be by the bar, food table, and entryways, so set up your seating and lounge areas accordingly.

outdoor_bar Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton

3. Festive Lighting
A dusky twilight setting can be romantic, but no partygoer wants to fumble around in the dark to try to locate their drink or date. Incorporate outdoor lighting throughout your party area to cast a warm glow over your guests, and to help them stay safe and aware of their surroundings. Wall-mounted patio lighting, landscape lights, hanging pendants, torches, and post lights along a path are all great options to ramp up the visibility at your outdoor party without losing any of the charm. No fumbling with gaudy extension cords and temporary lighting sources that you’ll use once and throw away.

outdoor-party-night

4. Snacks for Everyone
You’ll need a party-appropriate menu, as well as a system for storing and displaying food and drinks. Don’t just make what you like and call it a day; think about taking the time to reach out to your guests to ask them about dietary restrictions, allergies, and preferences. From this information, you can create a menu that has a little something for everyone. Test out recipes before you debut them at your party, and make the menu seasonal. Since you likely don’t want to spend your entire party cooking and carrying food, it’s a good idea to pick things that you can prepare in advance.

outdoor-party-food

5. Planning for Weather
You can’t control the weather, but you can plan for every possibility and stock up on the supplies that will keep your guests safe and comfortable throughout your event. Porch offers many handy seasonal tips for hosting an outdoor party, including:

• Keep your guests cozy with a fire pit and throw blankets

• Give your guests the gift of shade with umbrellas or canopy tents, and avoid extreme heat

• Provide cool drinks on ice for spring/summer parties and warm drinks for winter/autumn parties

• Prevent pest problems with special candles and bug spray

Are you eager to host an outdoor bash that will have people buzzing about how much fun they had? As you do, remember these five tips, and give yourself enough time to plan so you have a well-lit, comfortable event complete with a delicious menu and plenty of fun activities for all to enjoy. Happy hosting!

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