If you’ follow this blog, you know that Gary and I like to throw parties – like the 4th of July Pig Roast. In the beginning of October, we host an Oktoberfest aptly named, McTomberfest. My husband’s name in McDaniel. Get it? Moving right along…
We have this outdoor thing down to a science. Here are a few tips to help you master your next party.
Both of our parties have well over 100 people and at least 40 or 50 kids. We have an outdoor dining table that seats eight. What do do?
- Look around your house – you could bring out dining chairs, folding chairs, or poufs.
- You could also buy plastic chairs and keep them in your shed, basement, or garage afterwards.
- And finally, you could always borrow chairs! We are lend our stash to our friends and neighbors at least three or four times a summer.
Here’s another idea – albeit, it requires some additional forethought and a bit of money. You could design a space for entertaining – add a firepit and chairs, think about building a seating wall out of stone or brick, or set up a lounge area. Decorate it with sectionals, tables, rugs, flowering pots, etc.
There are so many ways to have fun with this.
- Consider commercial grade bistro lights – that way, you put them up once and they can stay there throughout rain, wind, snow, etc.
- Bring table and floor lamps from inside – this will add dimension and add something special to the space’s design. Decorate your outdoor space so that it looks that longue!
- Consider installing landscape lighting. While this light usually isn’t enough to provide enough light to see because it’s low-voltage, it does add ambient lighting. Suggestions include on stair treads or in built-in walls.
- Consider installing outdoor wall sconces, such as the Carson from Rejuvenation, on structures that surround your party space – the garage, the pergola, the trellises, or the side of the house works.
Consider a Pot Luck
When you have a lot of guest coming, it makes no sense to do all the cooking for those people unless you are roasting a pig or hiring a caterer. And you can still plan the menu! Use Sign-Up Genius to organize the food as well as the guest list – they have an RSVP function. Simply choose your menu – perhaps finding the suggested recipe online – and post it in the invite.
My very good friend, Liz, is my music maestra. (She has a fancy pants career at a record label and knows music!) I tell her the vibe I’m going for and she creates a list on Spotify. We have speakers installed on the outside of the garage. Admittedly, we need to figure out a better way to hook up a digital device to the audio component. I’m thinking my computer rather then her mobile…
Buckets of Ice and Cold Beverages
Earlier this year, I found a mid-century modern outdoor shelving unit at an estate sale. I didn’t have a bar cart and was looking for something. I cleaned it up, added bottle and stemware holders, and finished it with copper-color spray paint. I placed an ice tub on one of the shelves and hung a metal “Bar” sign above it’s place on the patio. Fun and versatile.
If you don’t have a bar cart and aren’t into making one, buy a few extra large plastic ice and beverage tubs. You could go for a galvanized steel tub for a more sophisticated look.
Mosquitos & Sun
These days, most backyards are inundated with mosquitoes. And someone always forgets sun block. regardless if the days is sunny or cloudy – all guests, in particular children – will want some skin coverage.
- First and foremost, empty all standing water. Mosquito larvae can live in a thimble up of water. Regardless of a party, you should make this a standard habit!
- Set out a few bottles of mosquito and bug repellent of the tables. Likewise, set out a few bottles of sun black and make them easily accessible. Make sure your guests know that these are for their uses.
- Bring some fans from inside and place them near the food. If you have an outdoor fan, make sure it’s on. This usually keeps a variety of bugs away.
When kids are invited to the party, the last thing I want is for them to get bored, leave the backyard, and start exploring my house. Even if they end up in the playroom, you’ll have one more mess to clean up. So, have a plan to keeping them entertained – outside. Start by telling parents that inside is unlimited except for the bathrooms. The idea is to have multiple play sections .
- Cone off the driveway so folks don’t park. Bring out all the bikes, trikes, scooters, and helmets you have.
- Get a set of giant Jenga blocks. Just make sure to set them on the ground, not on a table. You don’t want them falling on anyone. Corn Hole is a lot of fun too. Both of these games provide hours of play – for both kids and adults – they are easy.
- Hire a face painter and an animal balloon artist.
This will be the busiest place in the house the day of your party. Make sure it can handle the traffic.
- Add a basket of extra toilet paper readily available and in plain sight. About three or four rolls.
- Add two or three clean hand towels to the towel bar. Make sure to wash them aftewards as they’ll get gross.
- Add a basket of diapers and wipes for the small ones. There’s always a busy mama or papa who forgot their own stash. Also, don’t forget to put some plastic grocery bags in the basket. You never want a dirty diaper going directly into the trash.
- Air freshener should be out. Enough said.
Sometimes your guests want to be outside, but it’s a little chilly. You can still enjoy the outdoors, but some planning is necessary. And some of these ideas will cost a few dollars.
- Purchase a portable fire pit. Add chairs all the way around and you have an instant warm and comfortable party space. Have plenty of seasoned wood on hand. Make sure setup is far away from trees and shrubbery. And always have a fire extinguisher on hand!
- Purchase one or two commercial patio heater. The ones with wheels are the most convenient so that you can move it to where you need it to be. And again, please make sure that it’s placed in a safe area where there are no combustibles, etc.
- If you have some time a little more cash, consider building a built-in gas firepit. This is so convenient and the heat and glow is steady – it never needs logs added, and a simple on and off valve is all you need to control it. Make sure to get a permit and follow your town’s codes for such a structure. It also just makes the space look elegant. Again, keep that fire extinguisher handy!
Reuse & Recycle
Parties generate so much trash! It’s impossible not to. I’m not saying you should use real glasses and china plates, but try to find items that can be reused or at least will be easy on the environment nse they become trash. Here’s a list:
- Cloth tablecloths.
- Cloth napkins.
- Wooden utensils.
- Plastic utensils, including serving spoons and forks – a quick wash in dishwasher and you can use these a few times.
- Metal straws.
- Compostable or biodegradable cups and dishes.