Outdoor entertaining, how to throw backyard barbecue, outdoor entertaining, elevate outdoor party, easy entertaining ideas, how to be a good hostess, how to host outdoor party

Eight Ways to Elevate Your Outdoor Party

Even though I’ve never thought of myself as a social person, since Dan and I moved downtown we’ve found ourselves entertaining regularly. Whether it’s casual DIY pizzas and beer while watching HBO’s latest episode or our Annual Summer Lobster Boil, we’ve become quite experienced hosts. Because summer is far from over (I won’t admit it’s gone until the leaves turn), I’ve pulled together a list of ways you can take outdoor parties to the next level:

  1. Send an invitation. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times we’ve seen a text message serve as the only invite for a party. Sure, a text invite for impromptu cocktails on a Wednesday is appropriate, but whenever anything is formal or informal & planned, an invitation is the right move.
  2. Use fresh flowers. Fresh flowers bring everything to life and make the world’s ugliest table look put together. When I had a beat up Ikea dining room table from college, nothing hid scratches and stains better than a vase with flowers.
  3. Create and serve a signature cocktail. If you read my Amuse Booze post, you know a signature cocktail has a special place in my heart right now. But beyond that, making and serving a signature cocktail makes things fun and unique right away; it shows that you put extra thought into planning and will ultimately get everyone in the mood to have a good time.
  4. Use real dishes. I completely understand the appeal of disposable plates but take your party to the next level and serve food & drink in real dinnerware; this includes putting your chips in a bowl and the salsa in a ramekin. Sure, it’s an extra step when you clean up, but it will incentivize people to sit down while they eat AND prove you aren’t in college anymore.
  5. Have frozen towels for sticky hands. When you are outside during the summer there is a real probability it’ll be hot, humid, buggy etc. Even if all your guests eat their appetizers with a fork, chances are they will want to wash their hands. Ahead of time, buy inexpensive washcloths, wet them and then freeze them. To take it a step further, drizzle lemon juice or rose water over the cloths before you freeze them to give them a fresh scent.
  6. Light unscented candles. When it starts to get dark outside, light a few unscented candles. It looks nice and also lets your guests know the party doesn’t have to end because it got dark.
  7. Have an activity planned. Having people rally around an activity is a great way to informally introduce friends from different circles. Whether it’s a game of baggo/cornhole or a round of trivia, an ice breaker will make your job as host/hostess easier.
  8. Hand out party favors. Remember goody bags when you were younger? Sometimes it was the best part of a birthday party! Maybe you want to hand out a container of the spice rub you used or have guests take home their fun cocktail glass, either way, it’ll show people you care and give people a way to remember your party even after it ends.


There you have it! Eight foolproof ways to elevate your outdoor party. What are some things you like to do when you entertain? 

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feature photo via Ashley of Sed Bona

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