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Take the Party Outside

What better way to welcome in the warmer weather than to throw an outdoor party with family and friends. Having friends over gives a chance to share good times and build memories. Outdoor entertaining is easy, and there are many benefits to getting outside in the fresh air. Everyone wants to be invited to a party, so make the next party yours.

outsideWhy outside? One of the benefits of moving the party outside is your house may not be designed to have as many people over that you’d like. The outdoors gives you more space to relax and enjoy your company. While the grownups eat and talk, the kids can frolic and play outside.

Where there are kids, and even adults, there will always be spills and splotches. Messes and created fun are always easier to clean up outdoors. “In an outdoor setting, I don’t have to worry that a hotdog will make its way to my living room floor,” says Kim Byers, owner and creative director of

If you’re unable to have a party outdoors due to lack of space, parks are also great places to hold a party. Check with your local City or government office to find out about any regulations or ordinances.

Choose a Theme

To make your party fun and easier to plan, pick a simple theme for it. A theme helps direct your decisions on what to have and eliminates overspending on supplies. You can pick your idea just by a piece of material that you like or it can be around a holiday, like a birthday, end of school celebration or Canada Day. These are easier themes to decorate for. Once you’ve picked a color palette, choosing tableware or plastics is much easier.

Who to Invite?

Do you want to start big or just have another family over for your party? If you haven’t done a lot of outdoor entertaining, start small. This may be a chance for you to get to know your neighbors a little bit better. Do you have an elderly widow in your neighborhood that could join your family get-together?

Easy Food

A backyard barbecue is a great way to entertain. Hamburgers, steaks, chicken, hotdogs and ribs are simple to serve off the grill. Remember to add veggies, like corn on the cob or veggie skewers, to the menu. Select sides that you can make ahead of time, like cold pasta salad and potato salad. Grilling mini pizzas for your guests is a fun idea, too! You can prep a few core ingredients and then let everyone pick their own toppings. “It takes the pressure off of you to come up with something everyone will like,” says Byers.

If you are anxious about entertaining, it’s not a good idea to try out a new recipe on your guests that day. Pick your favorite, simple lunch or dinner recipe and add a salad and some fruit. Guests like to bring their favorite party dish, so ask them to bring one.
Set up food stations in the shade and keep all food made with dairy products or mayo chilled. Brightly-colored tubs or ice chests of ice filled with drinks for adults and one for the kids can be self-serve. Place food screen covers over your food to protect from insects.

Decorating Outside

If you are having an evening party, strings of lights are not only for the holidays. Lights always make your party look more festive along with candles on the tables.

Splashes of brightly-colored pillows and cushions placed on your outdoor furniture can tie together your backyard setting. Add a tablecloth and bright cloth napkins to match your theme color. Place citronella candles on the tables – but remember to watch out for little fingers. Kids do better when they have an area set up that is their size. Set up a card table with kid-size chairs or throw a blanket on the grass for their eating area.

Games and Outdoor Entertainment

If your yard allows it, set up games like a croquet set or volleyball net. If you have younger kids, a simple wading pool with some toys can lead to hours of fun for the kids. Remember to provide adult supervision, extra towels and sunscreen.

If your party is planned for the evening, patio heaters can be the answer to starting your fun outdoors sooner in the season. Tabletop heaters and portable propane heaters are available to purchase at home improvement stores.

You can even have your own film festival outside with an inflatable movie screen. A simple search on the Web will find stores that carry these screens. Your family and friends can watch the newest flick together outside under the stars. They can bring extra chairs and your kids can use sleeping bags.

Stay Flexible

As the hostess, you don’t have to prepare any adult activities; however, Byers suggests to prep a few topics or questions in your mind ahead of time just in case the conversation lags.

Remember that even the best plans may go awry – like the weather may not cooperate – so have a back-up plan and go with the flow. If there is any spill or accident, be gracious to the person and help them clean it up. When your guests see you taking things in stride, they’ll relax more and enjoy themselves.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of foods while entertaining. Your confidence will grow as you continue to have others over. Start with where you’re at and you can build on what you know with each get-together. Pick a simple menu and pick up the phone today.

Jan is a freelance writer and a mom of five. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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