Originally Published on June 30, 2022. Last Updated on July 28, 2023.
The best outdoor parties are the ones that go off without a hitch. To get the seamless flow going for your next gathering, you need a plan and the right tools at the ready. Not sure where to start? We can help.
Check out these 11 outdoor entertaining ideas and stock up on the essentials to make your next party a success.
1. Outdoor Dining Table Set
From low-key luncheons to special occasions like baby showers and birthday parties, you can get year-round use from a durable outdoor dining set. Before you start shopping, there are a few things you should do:
- Measure your outdoor space. With these dimensions in mind, picking the right-sized set is easy.
- Know your audience. Who you host will dictate the seating types and heights you need. For example, long benches are great for grandkids, while your taller friends will thank you for bar-height chairs.
- Sync the set with your style. Choose a dining set that coordinates with your outdoor decor.
2. Fire Pit Table
Let dinner conversations quickly become fireside chats with an outdoor fire pit table. The best fire pit tables do the work for you—look for easy-to-ignite options that don’t require you to get up and throw another log on the fire. All you have to do is keep plenty of s’more supplies on hand and ensure everyone’s glasses are full.
3. Wheeled Bar Cart
Bring the cocktails to any corner of your outdoor space with a rolling bar cart. A nearby drink station gives guests the freedom to grab a beverage and snacks—or even the next round for everyone—at their leisure.
Look for a four-wheeled bar cart with plenty of shelving space for the essentials (and then some). This additional storage will ultimately save you time and energy. There are a variety of styles out there, and some bar carts offer extra accessories such as built-in ice buckets, wine glass holders, storage compartments, and removable serving trays.
4. Portable Wireless Speakers
Set the mood and turn on toe-tapping tunes with portable wireless speakers placed strategically around your outdoor space. Wireless speakers are less expensive and time-consuming than installing an outdoor sound system, and you can move the music to wherever your guests are. Do you plan to host pool parties? Opt for water-resistant versions so your “Top 90s Throwbacks” playlist doesn’t get interrupted by wayward splashes.
5. A Bottle Opener
A bottle opener is an essential tool for social gatherings of all kinds. When you don’t have one, its absence is noticed. Keep a few multi-functional bottle openers in your kitchen and pop one onto your wheeled bar cart when you’re doing party prep. Another option is to affix a mounted bottle opener to your outdoor bar ledge or even your bar cart. Here’s a how-to video from Gunflint Designs that shows you how to make a magnetic mounted bottle opener using scrap wood.
6. Multi-Tier Trays
Any seasoned host will tell you that serving trays are essential to successful entertaining. If you’re looking to step it up a notch, multi-tier trays are even better because they hold more appetizers and desserts without taking up more table space. Use this extra space for displaying decor or silverware holders. Serving trays come in an abundance of shapes, sizes, colors, and numbers of tiers, so feel free to mix, match, and have fun when shopping for these.
7. Outdoor Lights
Now, here’s a bright idea. Outdoor lighting adds to the mood of any gathering, whether you’re having friends over for wine and tapas or hosting an upscale dinner party. Try incorporating one or more types of lighting in your entertaining area, such as:
- String lights
- LED strips
- Hanging lamps
- Wall sconces
- Flameless candles
- Tiki torches
- Fire pit tables
Giant tumbling timbers, corn hole, TWISTER, and other outdoor games will keep the young (and the young at heart) entertained for hours. Choose games that get everyone up and moving—and have your camera ready to capture the fun.
9. Unbreakable Glasses
Accidents happen, so it’s best not to use actual glassware. But sometimes those well-known red plastic cups don’t fit the aesthetic of some outdoor gatherings. This is where unbreakable (and reusable) glasses get their time to shine. Made from shatter-resistant materials, these glasses offer the same look and elegance as the real deal, but they’re much safer and more durable.
10. Portable Ice Maker
Say goodbye to impromptu store runs or extra trips to the kitchen with a portable ice maker. Without the need for a permanent water line, this accessory is a must-have for the at-home mixologist and a convenient addition to your outdoor bar. Just plug it in, fill with water, and you’ll have cocktail-cooling ice cubes in no time.
11. Insect Repellents
Bugs are irritating party-crashers. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep them at bay, such as natural remedies and store-bought solutions (that have nothing to do with spray-on repellents in aerosol cans):
- Add plants – Marigolds, basil, lavender, and citronella are a few plants that naturally repel insects.
- Spritz essential oils – Cedarwood, peppermint, tea tree, and other essential oils can help prevent pesky critters from joining your party.
- Remove standing water – Mosquitos tend to hang out near puddles, so grab your squeegee and make sure to dry off surfaces as a preventive measure.
- Hang up bug zappers – The UV lights in these gadgets lure insects in and away from your guests.
- Use warm lighting – Orange and yellow shades are less attractive to insects than cool, bright whites.
- Keep your yard clean – A tidy lawn and well-maintained landscaping keep ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes in check.
Source: USA Today
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