There’s nothing like a pandemic to put a spotlight on the need for entertaining outdoors.
Even so, once it’s no longer necessary to be outside to gather, you’ll likely still want to partake in outdoor activities and entertaining.
So whether you’re planning a small intimate dinner with the family on the back patio next week, or looking forward to a bigger gathering in the summer, there are five things you’ll want to consider to make your event a success.
1. Keep an Eye on the Weather
Nothing can put the kibosh on an outdoor event or activity like the weather. And while you can’t change the weather, you can certainly be prepared for whatever it’s planning to throw your way.
For folks in northern climates, the first consideration should be how you’re going to stay warm. While a firepit is a quick and easy solution, not every community allows you to use one. So you may want to look into propane-powered heat lamps or space heaters if you’re going to be in a garage or a tent that wired for electricity.
If dealing with winter weather isn’t among your challenges, you may instead be thinking about ways to keep your guests cool and protected from the sun. It’s a good idea to have a large umbrella (or two) available should you need some shade. Also, consider providing a tube of sunscreen.
With warmer weather comes the potential of insects, so it’s a good idea to stock up on citronella candles to keep them at bay. And if you can set up fans in some fashion, this can also keep the bugs away while providing cooling relief for your guests.
Finally, be sure you have a backup plan for any sort of precipitation. And if it’s looking like it’s going to be windy, consider how you’ll keep things like napkins and cups from flying all over your yard.
2. Go for Simplicity
Of course, if you want to have a big four-course meal, that’s up to you. But there’s something to be said for just offering up a snack and drink table where people can make their own creations based on their preferences.
If you’re planning to grill, get it ready in advance. Check to ensure it’s clean and ready to go and that the propane tank is full.
You may also want to load up on compostable party supplies to add to the simplicity. Not only do they offer easy clean-up, but they also eliminate the possibility of broken glass on your patio or deck. And by choosing compostable items, you’ll also be taking the environment into consideration.
Finally, if you want to really ease off on the work and expense, make your party a potluck. Ask your guests to bring either an appetizer, salad, entree, or dessert. Then keep a list of what everyone is bringing to ensure there are no duplicates. That way, you don’t end up with six bags of tortilla chips and six jars of salsa.
This will allow you more time to set the stage too. Speaking of which…
3. Plan Out the Setting
First things first – be sure there’s enough seating for everyone. This doesn’t mean assigning seats. And it doesn’t imply that you need to run out and rent a bunch of chairs.
The idea is more to create outdoor rooms where folks can naturally gather and ease into conversations with one another. You may already have outdoor furniture that looks something like these outdoor teak lounge sets. If so, start with creating an inviting space around that.
From there, you can create additional outdoor spaces and lounging areas by grabbing chairs, blankets, and pillows from inside. Adding an outdoor rug or two can go the distance to creating a cozy environment – even on the grass. In fact, rubs are perfect for adding color and style, defining spaces, and making outdoor spaces feel more indoorsy.
This could be a big plus if your outdoors is feeling a bit cold these days.
4. Consider the Power of Lighting
Even if your event starts early enough that it’s still bright, the party will take on an entirely different feel once night falls. So make concessions for lighting.
Start by considering your ambient lighting. Do you want to have hanging lanterns and post lights? Give attention to eating areas where the lighting should have a soft glow and not be at all harsh. If your space is small enough, you may be able to get away with string lights and LED candles.
Task lighting can be achieved through landscape kits and spotlights. These kits usually contain several ground spotlights on a single cord that you can arrange around your yard to create dramatic shadows. They can also be used in a more utilitarian fashion to mark the perimeter of your patio.
Another benefit of outdoor lighting is its built-in security factor. Not only will marking pathways and stairs keep your guests safe, but mounting motion-sensing wall lanterns onto the sides of your house will protect you from unwanted intruders.
5. Ask for Help If Needed
Regardless of whether you’re planning a small socially-distanced group in a heated garage or a larger gathering once summer arrives, the amount of planning can sometimes be overwhelming.
This is especially true if you opt to skip simplicity for something more elaborate. Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to turn to a close friend or family member in helping you set up. In all likelihood, they’ll be honored that you asked for their assistance.
Plus, you can take it as an opportunity to throw a little pre-party. While you’re setting up the food, drinks, lighting, and special spaces, grab a drink, get the music going, and start having fun! It’s a great way to get the environment party-ready.
Find Success in Entertaining Outdoors
If entertaining outdoors is your only option right now, then find a way to embrace it! Start by incorporating the above five tips. Then allow yourself to get creative from there.
And remember, soon you could be planning the outdoor gathering to end all other outdoor gatherings!
In the meantime, keep checking back with us for more great articles on health, finance, and home.