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How to Throw an Outdoor Party

Next time you decide to throw a party, consider having it outdoors. As the warmer months approach, it’s fun to take advantage of the nicer weather and dine al fresco with your favorite people. And when the temperature drops, get a fire pit and have plenty of blankets available so everyone can stay comfy.

Whether you have a patio, screened-in porch, or a backyard pool, you’ll be able to enjoy some fresh air and a wide-open space as you mill about and chat with your guests. There’s something about being outside with friends you enjoy that brings out the fun in people. Here are some ideas to help make your life easier when you throw your next outdoor party.

Make a List

Keep a running list of everything you’ll need to do and check it off as you accomplish each task. Include your grocery list, beverage list, music, games, setup, and whatever else is needed for the party.

Your lists should be easy to alter so you can add things as you think of them. Also, have a guest list and put a mark by people’s names when they accept or decline.

Invitations

Even for an informal outdoor party, it’s a good idea to send out some type of invitation. It can be sent through snail mail, email, or even a phone call or text message.

You’ll want to be specific with the date, time, and location where the party will be held. Include the type of party, whether it’s a pool party, outdoor bbq, birthday party, etc. Add in a quick note on the food being served, so your guests know if it’s appetizers or a meal. Jot down any special information if your guests should bring anything, such as a swimsuit and towel, a dish to pass, or BYOB. If you’re planning to play outdoor games, include that too, so your guests will know to wear more casual clothes and comfortable shoes.

Menu Considerations

Planning a menu for an outdoor party doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Offer a buffet with a variety of food options such as vegan or gluten-free to make sure everyone can have something they enjoy.

Another thing you may want to consider is having a potluck. It gives your guests an opportunity to share their best dishes. Serve the food buffet style so you don’t have to serve everyone.

Have a way to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Position the serving table near an electrical outlet for food warming trays. Place a shallow pan of ice beneath platters of items that need to be kept cold.

Round out the meal with an assortment of desserts. Cookies, fresh fruit, or other simple finger food desserts that are easy to eat are good choices.

Beverages

The best hosts offer a variety of beverages to their guests. If you choose to serve alcohol, also provide some nonalcoholic options for those who choose not to imbibe or consume less alcohol. There is also nothing wrong with having a BYOB set up since everyone has specific preferences.

Put your beverage station in a different location from the food area. This can prevent a bottleneck when everyone is trying to get something to drink and eat. Have a cooler or ice chest filled with enough ice nearby.

Trash and Dirty Dishes

If you’re using paper products, have at least one trash can available. Keep an eye on it and empty it before it starts to overflow.

You’ll also need a place for everyone to put their dishes and glassware after they are finished. This can be a table or plastic bin that you set in an out-of-the-way location.

Having this system already in place will also make the post-party cleanup easier for you.

Seating for an Outdoor Party

Provide plenty of seating for everyone. You can use a variety of seats from your patio set, lawn chairs, and folding chairs as long as they are in a secure position and on a level surface. Another option if the lawn is dry is to have blankets for those who are willing to sit on the ground.

If you don’t have enough chairs to seat everyone, don’t hesitate to ask friends if they can bring some over to help accommodate all the guests that are attending.

Shade and Light

If you’re hosting an outdoor party during the day, have some places with shade so your guests can get out of the direct sun. This can be a patio with a roof, a tent, an awning, or an umbrella.

A nighttime outdoor party needs plenty of lighting. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bright as long as your guest can see well enough to move about and have conversations with others. Use string lights, lanterns, candles, and another lighting you may already have in your outdoor area.

Decorations

If you like colorful decorations, you can go all out at an outdoor party. Hang colorful lanterns, put up a piñata, and pull out your brightest tablecloths. Even your place settings can be as colorful as you want. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors and textures as you decorate.

Plan the Playlist

Every party needs music, so work on your playlist based on the people you’ve invited. If a variety of generations are attending, offer music that spans the decades. Keep the music upbeat, happy and fun.

Set up the playlist using music-streaming services like Spotify, iHeart, or Pandora, and plan to have tunes that will play for five to six hours to ensure there are no repeats or interruptions to music. You can also ask the guests to contribute to the playlist, making for what could potentially be a very eclectic and fun combination of music.

When playing the music, there’s no need to blast it. Just keep it at an even level of sound so people can chat together and not have to yell over the music.

Activities

Once you know who is attending your party, you’ll need to determine what activities they’ll enjoy. It helps to know your guests’ preferences.

Some people may prefer quiet conversation and listen to music, while others will enjoy a game of charades. You may even want to have various areas set up for different interests.

If children will be at your party, make sure you have plenty of activities lined up for them. Water sports and games are always fun because they keep the kids cool while they splash around. Make sure you arrange for enough adults to supervise the little ones.

A fire pit comes in handy, not only for keeping everyone warm during a cool evening but also if you want to toast marshmallows. This is a great activity that brings everyone together.

Have Fun

The most important element of your outdoor party is to have fun. The event is finally here, so mingle with your guests, take the time to talk to everyone you invited, and enjoy yourself. If your guests see you laughing, chatting, and having a good time, they’re more likely to enjoy the party as well.