Arranging the Perfect Patio Part 2 – Entertaining Guests

Garden and patio parties are the summer dream. Fresh, warm air, sunshine, fires by sunset, friends and family gathered round to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

It is the dream to have the perfect backyard space for patio season. If you’ve got the space, use it! It may take some planning and time to arrange the perfect patio, but the preliminary steps will result in an ideal outdoor living space where you can relax with a lover or entertain friends and family.

A backyard patio is there to extend the living space into the yard. It breaks up the house and yard with a paved or tiled flooring of sorts, where you can arrange furniture and some décor to bring comfort to the backyard experience.

The space you create for your patio will depend on a few factors including your intentions for the patio, first of all. Consider the purpose of the patio: will you be entertaining friends and family? Hosting summer parties? Enjoying your morning coffee while you take in the sounds of nature around you?

In our first article on perfect patio arrangement, has details on things like furniture arrangement and focal point, making sure there is a good element of hands-free interaction and providing a sufficient footpath for guests.

With this article we’re going to teach you how to arrange the perfect patio for entertaining. Some things to consider include the number of people you want to entertain on a regular basis, your lifestyle, the different options for entertainment and the overall intention of the patio: will it be a chill space or party pad? Of course, you can always go for both….

So let’s get into it!

Location

First, consider where you want to put your patio. You will want to create some kind of focal point with the patio, whether you install a gazebo or just want to use casual seating. The point is the focal point should be obvious in order to draw people to it.

If you have a smaller yard, you will likely want to place the patio right off the back door. This makes for ease of access from the back or side door.

If you have a larger yard, you may choose to set up your patio a bit farther from the house. If you can go into seclusion, that would be very romantic and fun. However, think about things like carrying dishes and food to and from the house, having to wear shoes etc.

Guest numbers

I’ve been to all kinds of different parties where guests were fully served beautiful cocktails and appetizers all the way to casual circles around a firepit where everyone had to bring their own alcohol and chair.

It’s easy to entertain just a few or a whole yard full of people.

How many people can you comfortably fit on your patio? Make sure everyone has breathing room, with enough space at the table and around the yard.

It’s important to consider the size of your patio when considering the patio furniture you want to buy. Furniture sets seem to be getting bigger and bigger when sometimes, all we want is a four-person table and chairs, requiring nearly fourteen feet of space, or a suspended swing just for ourselves.

Keeping it casual will lessen the stress on yourself and guests.

If you plan to entertain several people at once, be sure to have a few extra seating options on hand. In addition to your dining set you will want to store drum stools or floor cushions. If none of this appeals to you, you can keep some picnic blankets on hand so people can sprawl on the lawn picnic style.

Sometimes parties can get out of control by word of mouth. If you’re strict about keeping guest numbers exact, you can send invitations. If you prefer to keep it casual you can use the aforementioned trick with seating. You can also rent chairs or even ask guests to bring their own to ensure everyone’s comfort.

Lifestyle

No matter your lifestyle, you can incorporate elements to suit it.

Consider what activities you want the patio for and what makes you feel good. Do you like to sit around a chiminea on Adirondack chairs in a sweatshirt, or do you prefer to serve cocktails to guests and sit among an elegant table?

If you work from home, perhaps you want your patio to accommodate a summer workstation.

Read our list of the best patio furniture sets here.

Entertainment options – Chill versus Party

Two things to remember: deter mosquitoes and feed people. This way, everyone will have a great time no matter the time of day. You can encircle the deck with incense sticks or citronella candles or set up a light fan to create a constant breeze.

You should always have music, too. We’ve compiled some of the best options for sound systems here.

We find it’s very helpful to set up activities that sort of let guests entertain themselves. This takes a lot of pressure off the host and keeps guests interested. The fact that you’re hosting them means you’re entertaining them, but not much is really expected of you, so don’t worry.

Most of the effort can be put into simple meal planning as well as light decoration. You don’t need much to set the tone. Chances are you’ve already got landscaping and some elements of beautification in your backyard, with lighting and seating. This makes it much easier!

Some decorative elements to include are:

  • some kind of buffet table that is separate from the dining area. This will encourage guests to roam around and make use of the space. It’s also good to provide escape destinations for guests no matter how familiar you are with them.
  • disposable dishes and cutlery
  • string lights or tealights in mason jars. This fairy-like ambience is romantic      and sweet, and provides just enough lighting for guests while maintaining the dreamy nighttime environment

We have some lighting options listed here.

Lately the trends have been to incorporate vintage elements by combining old with new. This gives a classic look to modern or contemporary layouts. There are all kinds of beautiful, chic furniture sets on the market with contemporary styling.

Party

Going for fancy?

Set a dress code or party theme. Theme parties – especially time-centered, like 1950s theme parties, for example, – have been very popular recently. The theme encourages guests to adventure outside their usual comfort zone and provides topics of conversation at the party.

Have a set number of guests with name cards and places. You can arrange everyone’s place at the table using layered effects: try setting placemats and then a layer with a complementary napkin. On top of this you can stack a nice plate and set matching cups. Your dishes can even be plastic and look classy on the table.

Head over to our furniture section to see a nice variety of patio furniture sets.

Create a centerpiece using flowers from the garden: put them in a vase or let them float on water in a shallow bowl. You can even wrap an old shoebox in paper and use it to place candles or flowers upon. Try to match the dishes to the flowers for a cohesive theme. We have found that signature cocktails really compliment this type of party by setting a theme and elevating the status. Serving cocktails to the guests will be fun and memorable.

Chill

Like we said, the fact that you’re hosting people means you’re already entertaining them. But if you want to introduce some activities or a theme, here are some ideas:

For a more casual get-together, set up a buffet table like we mentioned before: somewhere away from the dining table to make use of the whole yard. Encourage guests to come and go and mingle. Cover fruit or vegetable trays with a mesh colander to stop bugs getting at it.

Come evening, gather your guests round a firepit. It’s just so lovely to enjoy a nice dinner and then change the scenery up by moving to the firepit for some warmth.

Check out our options for fire here.

Adding a grill to the patio means you can enjoy a cookout with friends and family.

Kids

It can be hard to find a babysitter, plus it gets expensive. For these reasons you may want guests to bring their kids. If you don’t, we don’t blame you. But if you do, it’s important to keep the kids entertained at the same time as the adults.

Check out our list of game ideas for kids here.

When I was a kid, all the houses on our street got together. There were five or six families who would barbecue together. The parents would drink and hang out on the backyard patio, laughing at inappropriate jokes we couldn’t understand. We know that playsets can be expensive and not everyone has room for them. I didn’t even have a sandbox to play in; let alone a playset.

We would entertain ourselves by playing tag or capture the flag. Sometimes we’d set up a game of road hockey on the street. The boys were rough on each other. A fight would break out and someone would always cry, and a few of them would be grounded. I tended to sit out and watch. I didn’t like violence but I wanted to be part of it.

The entertainment kids go for will depend on their ages. If you’re having younger kids over, under the ages of 9, say, then give them nets or jars to catch moths, butterflies or fireflies. It will exercise their hunting instinct while keeping their minds busy.

 

In conclusion, it’s very easy to entertain guests on your patio, no matter your lifestyle or available space. Take what we’ve told you and use it according to your parameters, and you’ll be the royalty of patio parties in no time.

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