Spring’s warmer temperatures and longer nights make it the perfect time to start getting outdoors. Why? Because dining al fresco offers a fun way to gather friends and family. Whether you are celebrating a momentous occasion or hosting a ‘just because’ shindig, you want to make it as stress-free as possible.
Use the following recommendations as a checklist to throw a fabulous get together — without pulling out your hair.
7 Tips for Hosting an Outdoor Party
Send Invitations (as early as possible)
Even informal parties benefit from invitations, if for no other reason than making sure folks are free. You can send invitations in a variety of ways. Snail mail. Email. Phone calls. Text messages. Facebook event invites. The key is to make sure you include:
- RSVP by Date
- Any Additional Details/Requests
The additional details and/or requests might be to highlight the party’s theme, letting folks know if it is a bring-your-own-drinks kind of gig or asking guests to bring a potluck addition.
Plan a Simple Menu
To keep your outdoor party as stress-free as possible, keep the menu simple. You can go the burger and hamburgers route. A simple finger-foods buffet is another easy way to go. You can outfit it with a variety of store-bought options like cheese, hummus, veggies, crackers, and meats.
Alternatively, you might consider having a potluck. This can be a fun way to take food prep off your list, while also letting your guests showcase some of their favorite dishes.
The key with any menu is to make sure you have a dedicated space to place all the food. You will ideally want this space to have access to an electrical outlet, to plug in warming trays. If there will be anything that needs to be kept cold, place a shallow pan of ice beneath platters.
Create a Drinks Station
Even if you are asking guests to bring drinks, it is a good idea to have some on hand. If you are serving alcohol, keep things easy with just beer and wine. But don’t forget to have something non-alcoholic on hand for those who aren’t imbibing — like sparkling water or lemonade.
Also, set up your drink station away from your food station. This helps you avoid a big bottleneck of folks trying to get food jostling for space among those trying to get drinks.
Make Sure There is Plenty of Seating
Even if you are hosting a cocktail mix and mingle, guests will most likely want to sit on occasion. You want to make sure there is plenty of space for them to do so. Try and position seating groups around the edges of your outdoor space. If you aren’t sure about capacity, keep some additional folding chairs tucked away.
Another option is to have some blankets on hand for those willing to eat picnic style. The blankets can then serve double duty, offering a warm layer as the sun goes down.
Provide Shade and Light
Standing in direct sunlight or the dark of night isn’t fun for anyone. Make sure you have places for guests to escape the sun, by placing a few umbrellas throughout the patio. Plus, outfit your space with string lights and lanterns, which can be turned on as the sun starts to set. This helps ensure guests don’t feel called to leave because of the dark.
Have a Fun Playlist on Hand
Every good party needs a fun playlist. Depending on your guests, your playlist will likely vary. As a rule of thumb, avoid anything graphic if kids will be there. Oldies tend to be a good please-all, loaded with songs that can serve as both background noise and sing-along fun.
With the weather warming up, bugs will start coming out. That is just the way of things. But, you likely don’t want them to join the party. One of the best ways to limit bugs is to limit standing water. Another good tip is to have well-placed fans that blog across food to limit pests. Having bug spray and repellant wipes on hand is another good option.