The longer days of summer are one of the hallmarks of the season, and it’s also the perfect time to host a get-together with family and friends. Whether you’re planning a party for the patio, deck or backyard, here’s how to prep your yard for an event that will have guests coming back for more.
Fire Up the Grill
From hamburgers and hot dogs to kabobs and grilled veggies, food from the grill is the star attraction at an outdoor party. Deluxe or built-in grills typically offer the full package of side tables to prep and serve food.
The day before the party, have your grill clean and ready for action by stocking up on charcoal or gas. Make sure you have plenty of materials on hand, including a meat thermometer, aluminum foil and clean plates. That way you can cover grilled food with a foil tent so it stays hot if not served immediately.
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Arrange Your Patio Furniture
When throwing an outdoor party, arrange the existing dining set and patio furniture to accomodate the number of guests. A large get-together might require more seating, so bring out folding or stackable lawn chairs. You can always make guests more comfortable by adding decorative pillows or seat cushions to all your chairs. Even a sturdy stool can work in a pinch with a colorful cushion on top.
Arrange a serving station by placing a table near the grilling area. If space is tight, you can always add a side table or two for appetizers and condiments, so they’re within reach of the serving station. Consider creating a gathering space around a firepit or near an outdoor fountain to make entertaining more intimate.
Include Fun Outdoor Games
A fun way to keep kids and adults entertained for hours is to set up some of yard games. Croquet, badminton, bocce ball and horseshoes are classic options regardless of age. These types of outdoor games are ideal if you have a large backyard to accomodate both play and seating.
You can also create some fun activities with some items from around the house. For instance, consider setting up a scavenger hunt for the kids. During the summer months, go for instant appeal with water balloon toss. If you really want to enjoy some old-fashioned fun, bring out a few sturdy pillowcases or burlap sacks for a wild and wacky potato sack race.
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Add Patio Lighting and Decor
Include fun and festive party decor, such as flowers, candles and lights. Paper lanterns are always a hit when hung from trees, overhead coverings or strung along a canopy. You can also create light pillars by wrapping string lights vertically up a tree or pole.
Feature flowers from your garden in painted tin cans, and fill your candle votives with fragrant herb sprigs. You can even showcase your succulents or small potted flowers. If need a table centerpiece, you can easily make one using fresh garland clippings from the yard.
When setting out flatware, napkins and party favors, take it up a notch by offering them in clean and empty decorative planters or pots. Ceramic, clay, stoneware and colorful plastic containers all work well. Large pots and planters can also be repurposed as an ice bucket to chill wine.
Fend off Summer Pests
Certain items can help keep mosquitoes and other pesky insects from moving in on your party. If you're having a tropical-themed party, set up tiki torches around the yard. Consider placing small cintronella candles at each table, so bugs can stay away from guests while they're eating or chatting. A simple way to make your own natural pest repellent is to set up floating tea lights in Mason jars and add chopped herbs or essential oils to the water.