How To: Throw the Perfect Outdoor Party
With the warmer evenings upon us, we can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off the day than by enjoying a leisurely dinner outside. Whether you’re hosting a small get-together among friends or a large neighborhood potluck, you’ll entertain outdoors like a pro with our easy-to-follow ideas for outdoor parties. We’ve included tips for planning, decorating, and food prep- everything you need to get you on your way to throwing the best parties of the summer!
Outdoor Party Planning Tips
Follow these easy outdoor entertaining tips when organizing and planning your next outdoor party:
-Send invitations if you’re going to invite more than 12 people or if you have a theme for your outdoor party. Otherwise, call or invite guests in person.
-Ask guests if they have any food allergies or special preferences (vegetarian, kosher, diabetic, etc.), so everyone is able to enjoy the party fare.
-Lessen the stress of hosting an outdoor party by making it a potluck. Assign each guest a dish (appetizer, salad, side dish, or dessert) to contribute, so you only have to make the main dish. If you want a cohesive buffet, organize the potluck around a theme, such as Tex-Mex, Asian, or All-American.
-Mix up the seating. If you have multiple outside spaces, set up a table, chairs, and blankets throughout the yard.
-Account for anything that might prevent entertaining outside: If you think bugs, rain, heat, or cold might get in the way of your party, make sure you have a backup plan.
Table Setting & Decorating Tips
Transform your space and add a bit of elegance to your outdoor party table with a few of our simple and easy outdoor decorating tips:
-Buy two of the same tablecloth if your patio table is too large for one to cover. Simply fold each in half and drape over the ends of the table.
-Coordinate your tablecloth, place settings, and table decorations to give your outdoor party table a coordinated look.
-Hang string lanterns from trees to make your outdoor party glow.
-Use candles on the table if you’ll be dining outdoors after dark. Votives can be set in wineglasses, jars, or tin cans with holes punched around the sides. To create magical overhead lighting, make wire cradles for jars and suspend them from trees. String icicle lights along a fence, around a porch, or through a tree or shrub for another take on whimsical outdoor lighting.
Keep food for your outdoor party fresh and serve it efficiently with our helpful tips:
-Keep unwanted pests away from individual dishes using wire domes, which are available at kitchenware stores.
-Serve drinks in glasses or clear bottles rather than cans, which can hide bugs in the openings. Avoiding red or yellow drinks, which can attract bugs, is another way to keep your party pest-free.
-Follow the two-hour rule: Never serve food that’s been out of the refrigerator, off the stove, or out of the oven any longer than two hours. On warm days, follow the one-hour rule. Sit down to eat for an intimate gathering, and pass the food in bowls family-style.
-For a larger crowd, set up a buffet table and stack dishes at one end so guests can help themselves.