Backyard entertaining during a summer afternoon is a breeze. Mix good food with fun activities, and you can watch your guests have a great time. When you’re entertaining outdoors at night, however, there are a few extras you should make sure to have:
A Comfortable Seating Arrangement
Since your guests most likely won’t mingle around the yard in the dark, comfortable seating is most important. Consider deep cushion chairs, sofa and sectionals, which will allow your friends to settle in for intriguing conversation. Also consider ottomans that invite people to put up their feet and can serve as extra seating if your crowd grows.
Blankets and Throws
Anticipate your guests’ needs when you’re entertaining outdoors at night by placing blankets and throws outside near your seating. If the air becomes brisk, they can easily wrap themselves in warmth without interrupting the flow of the party.
Summer nights in the Midwest often see dropping temperatures, and the perfect solution is adding a fire pit to your patio design. Not only will this feature add ambiance and lighting, it will put out some warmth to take the chill out of the air. Choose stand-alone fire pits that radiate heat in chosen spots. Or select a fire pit table, where guests can gather to enjoy conversation – and perhaps s’mores.
Lanterns and Lights
You’ll want to have ambient lighting during your nighttime gathering, and candles will do the trick. Their glow will create a wonderful sense of intimacy. Use lanterns so that a soft breeze won’t disrupt the flame. You can also fish out the old Christmas lights and string them in the trees or the spokes of patio umbrellas. Or hang them across your patio. Lighted fountains also add an accent glow, and they provide a soothing sound of running water. The more layers of light you have, the more enchanting your back yard will feel.
Looking for an excuse to throw a party? Summer is a good enough reason in itself, and choosing a theme can help you come up with creative food and decorations. Here are three summer party ideas that will heat up your entertaining schedule this season:
Ice cream social
On a hot day, there isn’t a treat much better than a dish of ice cream! Fill a cooler with ice and add tubs of creamy gelatos, refreshing sorbets, and old-fashioned vanilla. Then set out toppings such as fudge sauce, fresh berries, nuts and sprinkles. Add dishes, cones and scoops and let guests serve themselves.
Outdoor Movie Night
Rent or borrow a DVD projector, then put up a screen or simply hang a white sheet from second story windows or on the garage door. Choose the movie; consider campy classics, such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, Beach Blanket Bingo or anything starring Elvis. Or select a fun summer flick, such as Stand By Me, National Lampoon’s Vacation, The Parent Trap, I Know What You Did Last Summer or Jaws. Pop popcorn, and offer snacks with bottles of Faygo and boxes of Good ‘n Plenty, Raisinettes and Dots. Set up chairs and enjoy the show!
Backyard Ball Game
If you have a great back yard, invite friends over for a fun game of softball. You can assign teams beforehand or pick on the spot. Enhance the fun by having t-shirts made. Make bases out of floor mats, and grab bats, balls and gloves. Then play ball! When the ninth inning is over, serve food favorites such as hot dogs off the grill, peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jacks and ice-cold beverages.
What are your favorite summer party ideas? Let us know in the comments below!
Summer and celebrating go hand in hand. Holidays are a natural reason to gather, but just warm weather provides a good excuse to call some friends and throw an impromptu bash. Once you’ve got your menu together, it’s time to think about ambiance and activities. Here are four summer party tips for a laidback event.
Get plenty of seating
Encourage your guests to linger outside by using a comfortable sectional. You can also put out plenty of chairs; stackable chairs are a great option for events. Or ask guests to bring their own. You can also set out blankets and tablecloths that will invite people to sit on the lawn.
Choose a fun theme for your summer party. You could go Americana with red, white and blue. Or go with a tropical palette, featuring colors of the water and beach. Or take your cue from ice cream colors, with shades of strawberry, pistachio and banana. Use colorful tablecloths. Hang lanterns or lights, and set a magical atmosphere for fun.
While gathering with friends is fun, think ahead and plan activities and games to keep kids and adults busy. Play charades. Put out bottles of bubbles or get a beanbag toss game. Set up croquet, or rent a karaoke machine.
Prepare for the weather
If it’s hot, so you’ll want to provide shade or other ways for guests to cool off and get out of the heat. Use a big umbrella over dining tables or a portable gazebo. Plan your event around the best time of day for your yard and the sun. Or include wet ways for your friends to chill, such as sprinklers, squirt guns or misters. When the sun goes down, it can get chilly. If your party is at night, consider getting a firepit that will take the crisp out of the night, or set out blankets and sweaters.
Enjoy the summer with friends and family, and you’ll have lots of memories for when the weather turns cold.
The summer is filled with lots of reasons to celebrate. From holidays to birthdays, graduation parties and more, plan a party to enjoy the season with friends and family. The best part of summer parties is that they’re often casual and laidback. That means your job is easier. Here are three summer party tips for getting the right food and refreshments for your backyard gathering.
Focus on fun not fuss
Choose foods that are easy to prepare, cook and serve. Traditional barbecue fare such as burgers (psst … get the premade patties) and hot dogs seem almost effortless when prepared on the grill. Or prepare foods like ribs or chicken the day before and finish them on the grill. Add simple side dishes like pasta or potato salad, fruit and veggie trays, chips, cookies and brownies, and you’re ready for a crowd.
Make it simple
While you can provide all of the food, consider throwing a potluck and asking guests to bring a dish to pass. You’ll spread the responsibility and cost, and guests can show off their favorite dishes. You can also call the caterer or grab your favorite takeout, like fried chicken or subs. While food is an important part of the day, the emphasis should be on fun. Whatever you choose, aim to make it simple and easy.
Don’t forget drinks
Provide coolers with a variety of beverages so guests can help themselves. Canned beverages are convenient, or you can set out pitcher of lemonade, water, and have plenty of cups. Have Sharpie markers on hand so your friends can write their names on their glasses; this will keep everyone’s drinks straight and eliminate unnecessary waste. Create a signature drink for the party–alcoholic or non. It’s easiest to limit the choices. Or ask guests to BYOB!
Parties often revolve around food, so take some time to make smart choices, and enjoy the day!
Midwest summers can be downright sublime, but evenings often have a chill in the air. There’s no better way to enjoy your patio or deck than by using a portable firepit. Not only do they warm up your outdoor space; they add an ambiance that makes outdoor entertaining more inviting.
If you’re shopping for a portable firepit this season, it’s important to know how to select the right one. Here are some things to consider before you bring one home:
Pick a style
Firepits come in a variety of styles, including fire bowls, fire urns and firepit tables. You can also find tables and bars that include a firepit in the center, which combines the warming feature with a convenient surface for eating or drinking. Firepits can also enhance or set the tone for your décor. From rustic to modern, they are available in a variety of materials and finishes so choose one that complements the style of your outdoor design.
Measure your space
Firepits also come in a variety of sizes. Determine how much space you have on your patio or deck. You will want to have enough room to move about and add chairs. And you don’t want to place the firepit too close to a wall or your home. If your area is small, consider a fire urn that can add the same warmth and ambiance.
Choose a fuel
Firepits come in wood-burning or gas models, so you need to decide which is right for you. Wood firepits are usually less expensive and they give your back yard the feel of a campfire. Gas firepits use propane tanks, and they can be turned on and off at the push of a button, making them very convenient.
A firepit is an investment in friends and family. You’ll enjoy curling up near the flame throughout the summer and well into fall.