Easy Tips for Summer Outdoor Entertaining!

Easy Tips for Summer Outdoor Entertaining

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

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog May 14, 2019 at 4:49 am

    So envious that you guys get to host outdoor parties! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t trapped in a tiny apartment!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Narci May 14, 2019 at 4:49 am

    Oh, how fun! This is a great list of tips and has me so excited for summer! 🙂

  • Erika Slaughter May 14, 2019 at 5:03 am

    One of my very favorite places to be in the summer is YOUR backyard!!

  • Rachel May 14, 2019 at 5:06 am

    Please consider using another way to serve water…. there are lots of safer alternatives to single use plastic!

    • Maureen May 14, 2019 at 10:41 am

      I agree!

  • Sheaffer Sims May 14, 2019 at 5:40 am

    I’m ready to PARTY!

  • Kasie Miller May 14, 2019 at 5:57 am

    I love this—-sounds like parties at your home are wonderful! And I’m totally copying the whole “wrap up silverware” thing—-such a simple switch but I know it’ll be easier to grab when guests are juggling plates and cups!

  • Sarita May 14, 2019 at 6:20 am

    I don’t say no if someone offers to help or to bring something. Also, i buy bulk snacks and keep them as extra!

    • Mix and Match Mama May 14, 2019 at 7:05 am

      Yes!! I totally think that should be included!

  • Elspeth Mizner May 14, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Such great tips and so many of these are things I already do!! One tip I have is don’t be afraid to ask for help, if someone offers to bring a dish-let them. Always gives you ideas for new recipes too! Can’t wait for summer!

    • Mix and Match Mama May 14, 2019 at 7:04 am

      Yes!!! That’s a great one!!

  • Stephanie May 14, 2019 at 7:11 am

    Hiring a lifeguard is always a good idea when having a pool party when little ones will be there.

    • Mix and Match Mama May 14, 2019 at 7:24 am

      Yes!! We’ve done that too! It’s a great idea!

  • Laura May 14, 2019 at 7:25 am

    We have recycling bins readily available and labeled ♻️

  • Beverly May 14, 2019 at 7:38 am

    An adult to keep an eye on the kids swimming in the pool. I’m passionate about water safety!

  • talia May 14, 2019 at 7:46 am

    We’ve hosted many a porch parties and one of my favorite things to do is ask everyone to bring an appetizer to share. It need not be fancy (chips/salsa, chips/dip) I do the heavy lifting, but fillers are always nice and people like to be involved! Also, please consider an alternative to the bottled water. All the plastic is so dangerous to our environment. (I am not being preachy – just a bit of a greenie.)

  • Kimberly C May 14, 2019 at 7:55 am

    What an incredible (and awesome pre-planning) idea having bathroom access from outside! I love to entertain and cook for a crowd — my one sister calls me a hostess hog. We currently lack an outdoor living space (darn farm expenses) but I am always gawking at yours for inspiration =]

  • Ahna @ Hammers N Hugs May 14, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Entertaining posts are some of my favorite! A rewarding and easy patio/deck DIY is incorporating solar powered lighting. I just posted a review on these super easy DIY deck/patio post lights (https://amzn.to/2Q2DG8y) that I added, and they are amazing! Another “entertaining made easier tip” is using a serveware caddy (mine is similar to this one https://amzn.to/2W5qzsH). I keep it fully stocked at all times with paper plates, plasticware and napkins. I keep it in my pantry and then just set it out as needed. Restock and reuse!

  • Jennifer Goodwin May 14, 2019 at 8:06 am

    About those pesky flies, we learned years ago that you can get a large fan (box fan or other slimmer, sleeker version) and point it at the food, turned on. As long as it’s there, the flies cannot land! This was a game changer for us and made eating outdoors so much more pleasant. Just don’t point it at crackers or bread, or it’ll dry them out.

  • kathy May 14, 2019 at 8:14 am

    All great ideas Shay!! We often have a kid snack table for their wet pool hands and have bought 2 foldable bar height round tables and table cloths from amazon. They are great for adults to mingle around and also good if you have dogs who like to jump up try and join in the appetizers!! Last they provide extra spaces for people who want to stand and eat. I honestly cannot say enough about these tables- everyone always compliments me on them and assumes I rent them.

    • Ahna @ Hammers N Hugs May 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Kathy, do you have a link for the bar height folding tables from Amazon? I would love to check them out!

  • Becky May 14, 2019 at 8:49 am

    My parents entertain all the time, and they always hire a lifeguard for the pool. That way, no one is worried about safety, and they can both enjoy their company. They also have a snow cone maker and a popcorn maker that are genius for their outdoor parties. Love these tips!

  • Gail May 14, 2019 at 8:53 am

    Just a suggestion….re:mosquitos in the Texas outdoors…the Mosquito Eradicator is awesome! And also the Thermacell works great too. Both are inexpensive and easy to purchase. If there is a mosquito within a 100 miles and my husband walks outside they know it and attack! With either of these 2 things we can enjoy our patio or sit on the dock at the lake….game changers!

  • Jacksy Walker May 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

    IF anyone is having trouble with mosquitoes, which we do living on a small lake – I would recommend Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. They are awesome!!

  • Rachel May 14, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Great summer party tips! This post makes me so excited for summer 😀

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick May 14, 2019 at 9:19 am

    The December birthday parties are legendary! 😉 I look forward to that all.year.long. Your house is made for entertaining! I love it so much!
    That Inspired Chick

  • Corbie May 14, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Girl, your posts somehow always lead me to Amazon down a rabbit hole each morning! Love this post! Question: what do you use outside to ice down your waters, sodas, etc. I am still on the hunt for the perfect sized beverage/ice holder. Thank you!

  • Taylor R May 14, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for the tips! I’m jealous of the Barrington/Erin Condren giveaway winner; but I shouldn’t be because I gave in and ordered a LifePlanner before the giveaway ended, hah! 🙂

  • Tricia May 14, 2019 at 10:14 am

    We keep extra garbage bags, in the garbage can, under the bag currently being used. This way, whoever removes the current bag, will have the new bag at their fingertips!

  • Mrs B May 14, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Have labeled bins for recycling glass, aluminum and plastic.

  • Alice May 14, 2019 at 10:31 am

    We have these little food cover tents that keep flies away! I can’t remember where I got them but they are great. We don’t leave food out long either because I am a weirdo about that stuff.

  • Francesca May 14, 2019 at 10:35 am

    What do you do about leftover food? Do you wrap it up and keep for yourself right away, or do you offer to-go containers for people to take any extra food home?

    • Mix and Match Mama May 14, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      I almost always give it away! That’s another great tip! I make sure we have plenty of foil and/or containers for people to take with them.

  • Lauren May 14, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    We host in our backyard a lot too and I agree with all of your tips– especially the one about having bug spray and sunscreen accessible! When I’m a guest at someone else’s house I hate to ask the hostess to grab it just for me, but really appreciate it when it’s already out. We don’t have a pool but try to set out lots of other water games for the kiddos to play with, and it’s always a hit 🙂 Bring on summer!

  • Stephanie Simpson May 14, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Outdoor music is always nice! Whether you have a sound system or hook up a Bluetooth speaker, background music sets a fun tone! Loving all these ideas. We are moving into a new house with a pool next month and are really looking forward to entertaining outside! Oh, another tip is to precut a bunch of fruit in spear shape and store in containers/plastic bags and refill fruit tray as needed. Especially easy for little, wet hands to hold and enjoy!

    • Mix and Match Mama May 15, 2019 at 4:26 am

      Duh! YES!!!!

  • Lindsay May 14, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    How do you put the drinks and ice out for guests? Coolers, attractive beverage bin? This is always one of my biggest problems. Would love suggestions.

    • Mix and Match Mama May 15, 2019 at 4:26 am

      Yes and yes! Big tin buckets work well too!

  • Nicole keller May 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Say you were going to host a Memorial Day bbq. Would it be weird to host it on a Saturday or Sunday since Monday is the day before we go back to work? Or is that the expected day to have the bbq party?

    • Mix and Match Mama May 15, 2019 at 4:25 am

      I totally think it’s fine to host it in honor of Memorial Day on Saturday or Sunday!

  • Lee Ann May 14, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Would you share food ideas? We often have people over spontaneously but I feel like I serve the same simple meal every time. Something other than burgers?😂

  • Katie May 15, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Shay! Great tips…thanks! Question for you. Do you have any suggestions for good rugs to keep inside (or outside) the door to the house so you don’t have a bunch of wet feet tracking through the house when everyone is swimming? This is the biggest challenge for me because we’re always going back and forth to the kitchen and/or bathroom when we have parties.

    • Mix and Match Mama May 15, 2019 at 9:49 am

      I don’t know the brand, but we use these commercial ones that are black and rubber. They work so well!