The warm months are the perfect time for weddings, family reunions and other big outdoor soirees. If you’ve been drafted with the responsibility of bringing a celebration together, you might feel a bit overwhelmed.
Don’t be! Planning a large, outdoor gathering is easier than you think. While you don’t want to trash the venue — or your backyard — you won’t have to worry about anyone spilling Merlot on your clean carpeting.
Here are 10 tips that will make your summer outdoor party planning easy and fun!
1 – Pick or Prep the Location
The first thing you need to do is decide where to host your event. If you or a close friend has a swank backyard complete with a pool, you’re all set. However, if you and your squad consist of urban apartment dwellers, you may need to reserve a spot at a nearby park or beach. Check with your community parks and rec department for fee schedules, and be sure to tour the location first — if the area lacks pavilions and picnic tables, you may need to rent tents and seating.
2 – Plan the Menu When planning for a large group, keep individual dietary restrictions in mind, especially if you don’t know if your attendees suffer from food allergies. Keep in mind some items can do double duty — for example, a vegan salad with green goddess dressing pleases vegans and those with lactose intolerance alike. Top with almonds or other nuts instead of croutons, and the dish has extra protein while remaining gluten-free, too.
You can serve classic brats and burgers, but offer some healthy choices as well. Chicken is leaner, and fish or shellfish pleases pescatarians. Even tofu can grill up nicely if you have many attendees in the vegetarian set.
3 – Pick a Color Scheme
Outdoor decor is super flexible. The easiest way to decorate is to pick a simple color scheme and stick with patterns in variation of that shade. However, don’t be afraid to add a bit of country chic, either. It’s OK to go for a scheme in a variety of blue patterns, but still pull in chairs and other items that don’t match perfectly.
4 – Consider an Event Planner If your facility or property — if going the backyard route — lack adequate shade from the summer sun, consider hiring an event planner. Not only can they take the stress off you, but they can also provide tents, chairs, dishware and anything else you may need to make your celebration a success. Plus, you don’t want your guests leaving with a sunburn.
5 – Serve up Summery Drinks Summer demands light, airy beverages, so consider going with vodkas flavored with cucumber and mint or grapefruit and rose. Keep bugs out of your drinks by topping cups with cupcake wrappers and poking a straw through.
6 – Look for Unique Serving Ideas
Glass is a no-no for outdoor parties — who wants to walk barefoot on broken shards? Think beyond the paper plate, though. You can find chic plastic reusable plates that are dishwasher safe. Unbreakable, reusable silicone wine glasses come in clear or pastel shades but won’t shatter and cut little feet.
7 – Select Some Music
What’s a party without music? Before you hire a DJ, see if a talented friend would be willing to perform on the cheap. Alternatively, when sending invitations, have guests RSVP with suggested songs to compile a playlist everyone loves.
8 – Set the Mood With Lighting
Nothing says romance like dancing under the stars when string lights twinkle nearby like so many fireflies. LED light strings cost little, but add a colorful ambiance. You can also keep it elegant with simple white bulbs.
9 – Provide Some Activities
Your guests came to party, which means adult beverages, but prevent DUIs by providing more to do than booze it up. Lawn darts and cornhole are always fun, and if you have the space, volleyball gets the whole gang involved. For those who prefer more sedentary activities, bring some board games, cards or conversation starter books.
10 – Keep Bugs at Bay
Nothing ruins a picnic like ants — except maybe mosquitoes, flies and noseeums. Incorporate citronella candles and plants in elegant or whimsical containers to keep bugs at bay. Cover food with netting or other material to prevent insects from getting in. Tiki torches add a tropical touch, and lining the periphery with citronella can keep insects out of the party area.
There’s no need to stress over summer party planning. All you want most is for your guests to have a blast. Keep that at the forefront of your mind, and you’re sure to throw a soiree your best mates will be raving about for seasons to come.