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Get into the spirit of summer with a patio party! Everyone’s a little more easy-going in the summer, more likely to drop by for impromptu visits or invite you over for some lunch.
We’re all itching to get outside because it feels so good! So good, that it doesn’t matter what we’re doing. That warm air and cheerful sunshine is too good to ignore.
But don’t stress yourself out. You don’t need much to entertain people on a patio. Chances are you’ve already got the patio. So you’re almost there!
There are some very basic essentials to cover so ultimately the amount of work you put in is up to you. Whether your patio is gravel or pavers or high-quality flagstone, all you need is some furniture, lighting and friends.
The essentials to any good party are pretty much the same across the board: create the party space so guests know where to gather.
Make sure guests are comfortable, feed them and water (and/or alcohol) them.
Take steps when setting up to ensure an easy clean-up for yourself: nothing is worse than having to clean up party aftermath while you’re so hungover you can barely look down. Not that we speak from personal experience, of course….
You will also need good music or background entertainment of some kind, whether people are gathered for a football game or to make crafts.
If your party begins around dinnertime, make sure the party space can transition from daylight to evening. This includes setting out candles before the party or setting up extra lighting that you can easily switch on when the sun begins to set.
If you are hosting a nighttime party, ensure guests have ample lighting to see, but not so much the ambience is gone. Tealights and twinkle lights are always a good call: citronella candles are a classic party trick that serve to light the space and repel mosquitoes.
Also be sure to provide rest for guests: all good party hosts and nightclubs know guests need a space for hardcore getting-down-and-grooving and they also need a rest or relief space in the form of a lounge or any quieter area.
You can even play this type of music in that area, like they do in Dubai in their “chillout” rooms.
The key to throwing a good patio party is the organization. Plan everything well before the party so nothing is left to the last minute. With these tips provided, you’ll be the hero of patio entertainment in no time. So let’s dive in!
Set the party area
Depending on the amount of space you have, you should try and set up a couple of different hot spots.
For example, the main party can be on the patio, but perhaps you want to set up another little table near a garden to encourage guests to get up and roam (this also gives you a good chance to show off your impeccable garden).
Taking care of guests: comfort, snacks
The first and most important tip is to make your guests as comfortable as possible. Make sure there is enough seating for the number of guests you’re entertaining. Provide cushioned chairs, if possible, with pillows or additional floor cushions should guests decide to sprawl.
Don’t burn yourself out caring for guests: set out tables with finger foods and plates and a punchbowl so guests can help themselves whenever they are hungry. That way you an also enjoy the company and fun.
Serve foods that require little prep. Try fruit, different salads (macaroni, potato, lettuce) and barbecued foods.
If you have a firepit or chiminea, then this will be extra easy for you! All you have to provide is bread, meat and veggies – anything that can be roasted. Slice it all up and lay it out for guests to help themselves.
Tip: guests feeding themselves can count as entertainment. Trust us.
Provide little snack bowls and keep them filled throughout the party. Serve up chips, pretzels, little cookies, M&Ms, etc. Little finger foods. Provide some raw veggies too, like baby carrots or cucumber slices.
You can serve snacks easily from a tray on a coffee table, or set up everything inside the house so guests can go in for refreshment and come out for fun. This will also help keep away any unwanted bugs.
Plan for easy clean-up
First, get everything ready the night before. Slice up your vegetables and have your serving dishes ready. Do all the preparatory dishes the night before so your house and yard are immaculate come party time.
Lay down brown craft paper on your dining set as a tablecloth. This will absorb any spills and grease. When the party is done you can simply pull up the paper and toss it out.
Take into equal consideration the cleanup effort that will be required of you as well as the environmental impact your party will have. Any disposable dishes and cutlery is ideal for parties, of course. Who wants to do dishes for twenty-four hours straight? Who even has that many dishes in their house?
Buy yourself some paper plates – choose recycled materials if you can! – or plastic. But remember that all recyclables must be completely rinsed before you put them in the recycling bin.
Set out a garbage and recycling bin near the party area so guests can easily toss their garbage, rather than leave it for you. The less mess leftover, the better.
Patio entertainment can be a quick and simple affair. All it takes is a trip to the grocery store and maybe moving the stereo outside. Or, you can go the extra mile and provide activities.
What we’ve seen, though, is that most people are content to socialize with some drinks. What’s better than getting together in open air, enjoying the weather and view on a summer day, or gathering round an evening fire with friends?
All parties need entertainment, but the type of entertainment will depend upon the reason for the party. If you are casually hosting some friends for a barbecue, then the radio or a playlist will suffice. The barbecuing and eating itself will serve to entertain your guests. Personally when I throw parties I like to make a playlist. You can hook up to spotify or even use GoogleHome to choose the tunes for you.
I tell ya, hosting parties nowadays is way easier than hosting parties even a decade ago, if you’re into technology. And you can host a party equally fun with little to no technology at all!
A fire can be the entertainment – people will gather round it to converse and watch it burn. Give people marshmallows or foods to roast and this can be the highlight of the party.
Adults don’t need much guidance when it comes to entertainment, really. Your guests will ease into their own conversational flow and make their way around the party if they so choose.
If there’s one thing we’ve observed in people at parties, it’s that they are quite content to be surrounded by friends or family, everyone enjoying a drink or two.
Don’t stress yourself out too much with the entertainment: sure, you’ve invited everyone over to entertain them, but to entertain, sometimes, is simply to host. Provide them with a bit of ambience and delicious food and everyone will be quite happy!
The entertainment can come from your patio setup itself, and you can add some decorations to set a party atmosphere.
Décor & Lighting
As we mentioned, some décor is good to set the party atmosphere. And like the entertainment, the décor will depend upon the type of party you’re throwing.
No matter your backyard patio size or layout, there is a way to incorporate some basic elements into decorating to set the tone for a party.
If you’ve got a full patio dining set, create a centerpiece as a focal point. Trim some flowers from your garden (or a nearby path) and throw them in a bowl of water. It’s easy, free and will amaze people that you put so much effort into beautification. A centerpiece will set the table – and your party – apart.
Take an old washbin or tub and fill it with ice and drinks. That will let everyone know that a party is HAPPENING. Right here, right now.
Be sure to consider the time of the party when selecting decor. What will guests be able to see? What is necessary? Chances are, if your lawn is well-groomed and you have a garden or two, then the space will be nice enough. Don’t make yourself crazy decorating.
If you are hosting a dinner party, then chances are the party will run far past sunset, so set out some candles that you can light when it gets dark. You can string some twinkle lights around the patio. Globe lights have been immensely popular for the last couple of years, being featured in homes as well as on commercial restaurant patios. They are romantic and dreamy, the perfect setting for a night on the patio at home.
If you’re having a fire, then the fire will provide tons of lighting and sometimes, that fire-in-the-evening is just the right atmosphere. Fire features always amaze people and bring them together. Not to mention the gradual dying of the fire will signal to guests that the night is drawing to a close.
Pro-tip: people love swings. If you can find an affordable swing or glider for your backyard, then you should do it. You can even suspend one from a pergola.
Keep in mind the weather could change. Check the forecast the day before so you know what you’re in for. Prepare for wind by weighing down napkins and the tablecloth (if using) with bowls of food. Provide shade from the sun with a patio umbrella or gazebo.