24 Tips for Easy Outdoor Entertaining
Throwing an outdoor party that's fun, festive, and filled with food, drink and conversation isn't as easy as simply taking your indoor party to the patio. Lean into the spirit of the season with these great ideas that are perfect for outdoor entertaining. The best part—each tip is made to make your life easier, so you can kick back and enjoy with your guests.
Focus on Comfy Seating
Thick, comfortable cushions on the chairs will encourage guests to linger at the table.
Serve Weather-Proof Snacks
Set out crowd-pleasing snacks like Blue Diamond Crafted Gourmet Almonds at the beginning of the party, so guests can nibble when they get there—and all day long.
Get Creative With Disposables
Lay brown craft paper across a table for a casually finished look―and super-easy cleanup.
Don’t Stress About Matched Sets
Don’t get overly fussy with china: An eclectic mix feels more laid-back.
Define Your “Outdoor Room”
An umbrella not only has the obvious task of providing shade, it also helps define your outdoor dining room.
Serve Seasonal Classics
Keep food simple for a backyard picnic: salads, fresh fruit, cold drinks.
Work With the Weather
Make wind less of an issue by skipping a tablecloth. Weight dishes―and greet guests―with small bowls of fresh fruit.
Repurpose Indoor Furniture
Here, a cot covered with pillows becomes a settee.
Set up tables in separate areas―say, drinks in one spot, dessert in another―to encourage guests to roam.
Create a Mobile Drinks Station
Stock a bar cart with essentials: glasses, plates, ice, a cocktail shaker, and swizzle sticks. Wheel it back to the kitchen if you run low.
Choose Unfussy Centerpieces
Floating peonies and gardenias make a pretty centerpiece. Just pour water into a large serving platter, and trim the stems off each flower.
Keep Cold Foods Cold
To keep dairy-based dips chilled, fill a large bowl with ice, and sprinkle it with kosher salt. Place the dip bowl on top.
Find New Uses for Old Things
Keep bugs away from food with an upended wire-mesh colander. Use ice-pop sticks to distinguish the rare burgers from the well-done.
Lean on Nature for Supplies
Not enough seating to go around? Even tree stumps will do just fine.
Encourage Guests to Serve Themselves
Set up a lemonade stand to keep guests hydrated on hot afternoons. Place glasses within easy reach on a dessert stand.
Get Inspired By the Shore
Seashells lend a seaside vibe Tie a starfish to a basic napkin ring for a beachy feel.
Borrow From Your Garden
Fill colorful pails with straight-from-the-garden sunflowers.
Keep Things Cool
Steamy night? Keep guests plied with simple fare like sparkling drinks and savory bites.
Set the Mood
Paper lanterns draped from tree limbs are charmingly festive (use dark extension cords that blend in). Repurposed white Christmas lights also provide a magical twinkle effect.
Keep Bugs Off the Guest List
Circle your party area with citronella candles or incense sticks to light when night falls.
Create a Faux Glow
Battery-operated flameless candles give off the same warm glow as traditional candles, with no fear of wind, fire hazard, or spilled wax.
Use Overhead Lighting
Wrap a vintage chandelier with fairy lights for a romantic vibe.
Gather Round the Fire
A fire pit is a must for s’mores and stories.
Create Different Seating Areas
Pull out the sturdy wicker armchairs, perfect for lolling in on a lazy summer night.