As the weather gets warmer, you’re going to want to start using your backyard area to entertain guests. Whether it’s a family barbecue, a cocktail party to welcome new neighbors, or a get together just because, it’s important to know how to use your backyard to its fullest potential.
That being said, sometimes it can be tough to figure out how to cook and entertain in your backyard. If it’s been a while since you’ve used the space, or you haven’t bought new patio furniture since you moved in 10 years ago, it can feel overwhelming, to say the least. Here are some ideas for how to make entertaining in your backyard feel like you’ve been doing it every summer!
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If you’re going to entertain, it’s important to plan. Unexpected things can pop up, such as an unexpected afternoon shower or even a neighborhood-wide power outage. Planning ahead is one of the best things you can do when entertaining in your backyard. Don’t forget:
To prevent you from cooking too much or too little, send out invites with RSVPs. You don’t have to mail them–though if you want to, that’s fine! You can create a private event on Facebook and invite your neighborhood friends. You can also send out email invites or, if you do want to go the paper route, you can walk down your block and put the invitations in all your neighbors’ mailboxes.
Create a Menu:
The menu will make or break your backyard get together. Consider the health of your attendees by making sure you have enough alternative options, such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. Ask your partygoers for any dietary restrictions they might have, and stick to a classic menu. There’s nothing better than a traditional hot dogs and cheeseburgers cookout! Include summer fruit staples, such as watermelon, and you’ve got the perfect party on your hands!
Incorporate Alternative Seating:
Don’t just bring out the plastic folding chairs. Use blankets, bean bags or benches as an alternative to your regular outdoor patio seating. Getting creative with how you incorporate seating can help you in the long run, too. You shouldn’t go buy a whole additional patio set if you only plan on using it once over the summer. If you want to ensure your partygoers have somewhere to sit, you can also look into renting some tables and chairs for the event. Want to do something even easier? Ask neighbors if you can borrow seating -- odds are they’ll have some extras laying around in the garage for you to use. Just make sure to return it as clean as when you received it.
Treat Your Yard:
While it might be part of the summertime-backyard experience, no one really wants to spend their party swatting at mosquitoes, shooing away flies or throwing out the banana cream pie dessert because ants got into it. Go to your local gardening store or call your local pest control company and treat your yard with as few chemicals as possible. Some essential oils block pests, too, so keep some natural repellents on hand for your guests to use.
A backyard party isn’t a good backyard party unless there’s food involved. Whether you’re grilling out or enjoying pizza under the stars, there are a few things to consider when cooking or eating outdoors.
Keep Things Cool:
Don’t get caught without a cooler outside for your drinks! You can even use a kiddie pool and fill it with ice instead of a plastic cooler. That way, when the ice melts, you can just deflate the pool and the water will nourish the grass!
Make the Lines Fast:
The longer the food sits outside in the heat, the faster it can go bad. Turn your food table into a double-sided buffet, where guests use either side of the table to serve themselves. Remember to pick up two of each serving utensil and put them on either side of the dishes so attendees realize they can use both sides. It’ll help everyone get through faster, meaning they get to eat quicker and there’s less of a chance the food will go bad!
You don’t have to serve food in boring aluminum dishes! Consider different ways to serve the food at your backyard party, like serving meat on a unique personalized cutting board or using a cake stand for small fruit salad cups. These small but fun additions to your food table will make the whole experience much more fun for your guests.
Think Sweet and Savory:
Make sure you have more than just sweets on your table or more than just savory bites available. Good parties have a balance of flavors and give their guests a rounded experience! Try to go for foods that you can make in individual serving sizes so it eliminates you running out too fast. Guests will be more conscious of how many they’re taking if the treats are pre-portioned.
Decorating Your Backyard Space
You can’t have an outdoor party without decorating your backyard space! Here are some tips for ensuring your guests love spending time in your backyard.
Deck Out the Garden:
Your plants deserve some accessories! Hang a couple of fun garden flags, add a birdbath or incorporate a few glass globes to spruce up the garden area. It’ll spark a conversation between you and your guests about your garden!
Light Up the Night:
Add some string lights outside that will turn on automatically when the sun sets. That way, you and your guests can continue your party long after the moon comes out!
Use Comfortable Furniture:
Seat cushions are very important for outdoor parties. Make sure you have some comfortable seating options for your guests, especially if any of them have hip or knee ailments.
The most important thing that makes your backyard party great is having fun! Create a summer playlist, fire up the grill and sit back to enjoy some fun in the sun with your neighbors and friends–all in the comfort of your backyard.