Hey there, friends!
With summertime quickly approaching, I thought I’d share a few of my tips, ideas and strategies for outdoor summer entertaining and then, of course, I want to hear yours too!!!
Andrew and I love having people over. We’re pretty social and to us, there is nothing better than having family and/or friends over for a meal and lots of laughs. Every year, we host a whole variety of parties. We host big parties (like Christmas Eve for my entire family!), dinner parties, birthday parties (we have an annual December birthday party that we laugh about all.year.long because it’s ALWAYS a riot!), small intimate meals with just one other couple or family, larger parties with multiple families, spontaneous parties (one of my favorites last year were when a few families stopped by for an afternoon chat and it ended up being a big fun dinner party!), planned parties, our kids’ sports teams often have parties (last year, we hosted baseball and volleyball swim parties), our annual July 4th party…I could keep going. The bottom line is, we just love getting together with friends and family and enjoying a great meal…and our favorite time of year to do that is SUMMERTIME!
Patio parties are our jam and even though you’ll find us out there year around, our favorite time to be outdoors with friends and family is during the summer.
So, over the years, I’ve kind of come up with some staple party ideas and then just implement them over and over again. For the most part, no matter what size the party is, these tips work. For instance, when we hosted Catherine and Sean’s baby shower and had so many people over, we used the same tips we do when just another couple comes over…they work for all of it. These are not genius ideas, but they’re practical and easy to implement. You probably already do many of them, but it’s always nice to see them in one little list. Let me share ours and then you help me add to it!
Here we go…
1: Have bug spray and sunscreen on hand and easily accessible. I’m starting with this one because mosquitoes can ruin a party (so can a sunburn). We treat our yard for mosquitoes and have citronella candles, but good old bug spray is really helpful when you’re entertaining. I have a little basket that I keep out on the main table filled with both bug spray and sunscreen so that people don’t even have to ask, they just see it and help themselves. I always check before and make sure the cans aren’t empty and that we have enough. I don’t want anyone uncomfortable because of bugs or sun.
2: Trashcans out and easily accessible. I always keep at least one (sometimes more) trashcan outside so that people know what to do with their trash if I don’t clear it for them. We keep spare bags near and handy during big parties so that we can quickly clear it and put a fresh bag in. We have a trashcan located next to where we keep the popsicles and other frozen treats as well, so that as soon as someone grabs one and takes off the wrapper, they can easily dispose of it.
3: Guest bathroom labeled and accessible (and secure!). We have a guest bathroom designated for outdoor parties (it has its own entrance from outside). We have a little golden plaque on the door that says “Loo” (we bought it in London), so that people know it’s the bathroom. I also make sure to lock the doors that are in the bathroom that open up to the rest of the house so that no one can open the bathroom door from inside the house if we’re having an outside party. Make sense? This way, people can come in and out of the exterior door and not worry about someone coming in from the interior while they’re in there. Even if you don’t have a bathroom connected to the outdoors, you can designate the most accessible spot for guests so that they know where to go.
4: Keep a nice stack of clean pool towels out. If we’re having a pool party, I always provide towels. So many people show up with their own towels, but just in case they don’t or they need more, I keep a big, bright stack folded up outside for people to use. I buy a lot of beach towels at Costco as they’re a really great quality and a nice price.
5: Lots of ice and lots of water. This might sound like a no-brainer, but I thought it was worth mentioning. We always buy the big bags of ice and lots of bottled water when we’re entertaining outdoors. So many times, I think I’ve over-bought, but it always gets used, so make sure you have enough of both.
6: Drinks clearly labeled. We like to keep drinks accessible outside so people feel free to grab them when they want. We typically mix a lot of kid-type drinks with bottled waters and then for those who like sodas or bottled teas, we keep those in there too.
7: Lots of pool toys, floats, goggles and puddle jumpers. You can’t have too many floats, pool toys, dive toys and such. We have a really big plastic bin (I think it’s from Lowe’s) with a lid that stores all of this stuff. It makes cleaning up really easy because you can just toss it all back inside and close the lid.
8: We keep the food in the kitchen unless we’re serving it. Andrew and I don’t like to serve food outdoors unless people are actively eating it. Flies are not my friend at an outside party, so we serve appetizers until we see they’re not being eaten and then we put them away immediately. The same with the main course. Nothing is less appetizing than food outside in the heat with flies.
9: Utensils wrapped and gathered for easy access. If your guests will be grabbing plates of food and walking off to eat it around the yard, then make it easy for them to get flatware and a napkin by pre-wrapping it together and tying it off (I typically use ribbon to tie). Place the wrapped flatware in a basket or large bowl and they can easily grab it after they get their food.
10: A place to change and/or store belongings. I always make sure people have a private place to change clothes and/or store their clothes if they’re changing in and out of swimwear.
11: Keep extras on hand (bubbles, sidewalk chalk, balls to bounce, etc). When we have kids over for a backyard party, we keep a lot of extra things around so that if they don’t want to play on the playground and/or swim any longer, they have other things to do.
12: Rent/borrow extra tables and chairs if necessary. We have often needed to rent and/or borrow from friends extra tables and chairs if we’re feeding a crowd. I think it’s nice if everyone has a proper place to sit down if they’re eating a big meal like dinner in your yard. It’s also nice to use a big table as a serving station for food too.
13: Have a backup plan for weather. Sometimes, we plan outdoor parties (even in the summer) and the weather doesn’t cooperate, so we have to come up with a backup plan. Sometimes, that plan is to rescheduled and other times, it’s to move things around inside to accommodate the people. I just think it’s helpful to have a plan beforehand, so that you know what you’ll do if the weather messes things up.
There’s never a lack of floatation devices at our house. As you can see, Madeley found her a few 🙂 .
When we entertain outdoors, we typically grill or smoke our main course and then I have sides and dessert inside to accompany it. That being said, sometimes, we’ve had parties that were so large that we catered instead, and that can work out well too! I would just keep the food simple and easy as you want to be able to enjoy the fun too!
About 18 months ago, I did THIS POST about entertaining overall year around, so make sure you click on that to see my other tips.
Okay, give me your tips for outdoor summer entertaining! I know that I can always learn many more from YOU!! Comment and share!!
Last but not least…want to know who won the Barrington/Erin Condren giveaway?!
This winner is….
Congratulations, Gretchen! I emailed you this morning. Email me back to claim your prize!! xo