As the weather warms up and spring turns into summer, those balmy, breezy, perfect summer evenings just beg for get-togethers in backyards and on patios all over the country. Whether you’re firing up the grill, mixing cocktails, putting together the perfect salad or just relaxing with friends in the lounge chairs, it doesn’t take much to throw the perfect outdoor party. Here are a few of our best tips and ideas for making your next patio party one for the record books.
1. Let your guests know what to expect! The best parties are the ones that are the most prepared-for. Write your invitations in a way that makes it clear what your guests can look forward to. “The grill will be firing from 5 – 6pm!” “We’ll supply the food – bring whatever you’d like to drink!” “Flip flops and sunglasses welcome!” All of these cutesy little phrases let your guests know what to expect – that the food will be served at 5pm, it’s BYOB, and flip flops and sunglasses mean it’s a casual dress code. There are tons of examples online for backyard party invitations – find what works for you and tailor it to your own details.
2. Anticipate mosquitoes, bugs and flies. It’s just that time of year! Swatting mosquitoes and batting flies away from our food is a part of summertime life, but there are ways you can make it easier on you and your guests. One of the most important things you can do to your backyard (and this stands whether you’re having a party or not) is to ensure there is never any standing water anywhere in the yard. Standing water is where mosquitoes and other bugs breed, so kiddie pools should be empty and sprinklers or rainwater haven’t caused any puddles to collect. Even the smallest amount of standing water, like inside the saucer of a flower pot, is enough water for mosquitoes to breed. And as far as flies go, make sure your food has covers at all times, be it plastic wrap, foil, container lids or cloth. There are also many food-safe methods for repelling flies using common produce like citrus, cucumbers (did you know flies hate the smell of cucumbers?) and fragrant herbs.
3. Create fun distractions for the kids! One of the main reasons families get together for backyard parties is for the kids to play together while the parents relax and take a break! Have some fun creating attention-occupying activities for the children! You could make a scavenger hunt with a prize at the end, lay out the Slip-n-Slide and water balloons or get out the frisbees, beach balls, bubbles and kites.
4. Offer party favors that pamper! Comfortable guests are happy guests, and there are so many ways to make your backyard party a treat for everyone. Is it really, really hot out? Wrap washcloths around ice cubes and tie them off with rubber bands, and keep them in an ice bucket or cooler in the shade. Your guests can apply these to their wrists and neck for the ultimate cool-down. Offer DEET-free bug spray or wipes to keep the pesky bugs at bay. Fill a large basket with dollar-store sunglasses, handheld fans, sunscreen, koozies and reusable cups!
5. Turn on some music! A little music adds a lot to any get-together. Most parties last from four to five hours, so make a nice long Spotify playlist full of crowd favorites, like Stevie Wonder, The Beatles or the Stones. For newer music, try Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. There are tons of Backyard Summer BBQ playlists premade on Spotify and Pandora, too. Don’t play the music too loud, and don’t point your speakers directly at your guests. If you can, rig your speakers overhead. If you’re using a small tabletop speaker such as a Beats Pill, point it towards the side of the house so the music can spread naturally.
6. Light it up! Great lighting goes a long way. As dusk settles into night, help your guests ease into a relaxing evening with paper lanterns, Edison lights strung overhead, hurricane candles or tea lights on the tables. These aren’t as bright as yard lights, and while it will still prevent your guests from tripping over coolers and toys the kids have left out, this ambient lighting will also attract less bugs than traditional yard lights.
Well there you have it – six tips for throwing a great outdoor party! We hope your summer is full of warm nights on the back patio, having a glass of wine with friends, family, co-workers and loved ones.
What’s your favorite tip for throwing a great summer party?