Creating An Outdoor Room – Part 2
ENTERTAINING?!?! WITH LIVE GUESTS?!?! You can do it! Are you a little nervous about hosting an outdoor party this summer? There’s a lot to think about, in terms of planning an “event,” whether it’s your spouse’s birthday party or your child’s engagement celebration. The vast majority of us haven’t entertained, even outside for over a year! What should you do? Here we come …to the rescue, helping you plan it out so you’re not flustered or too exhausted to actually enjoy the event!
On April 11, we discussed the following for Creating An Outdoor Room – Part 1:
3.) Defining the Space
If you didn’t get an opportunity to read it, be sure to go back and take a look!
EASE IN PARTY PREPARATION:
For stress-free party days, the essential thing is to prepare as much as you can in advance. Look for shortcuts and easy preparations you can do ahead of time, leaving the moments before guests arrive — as well as during party time — relaxed and enjoyable. What can you do ahead of time? Here is a partial list of considerations:
Decide far in advance about a theme and color scheme for your party. If it’s a 40th birthday celebration, avoid or at least limit the number of “Oh Lordy, you’re 40!” type of references. Take the high road with friends and family. If your theme is:
- a 90 year old granny’s birthday party, then consider your guest of honor’s color preferences as well as your home’s décor.
- an engagement party, then notice the couple’s taste in clothes and décor (if they’re past college beer posters.) You don’t have to select the colors for wedding- just make it festive.
- your son’s leaving for his graduation trip to Europe, then consider creating a theme based on the countries he’ll tour, using the flags, music and known traditions from those countries. Here’s another nice touch below:
- Consider music for the various stages of the party: a little louder and upbeat for the initial entrance of guests, quieter and more calming for the meal, a little louder and upbeat again after the meal, and quieter and calmer when you’re ready for folks to say adieu. Consider your guest of honor’s taste and preferences in music, as well as your guests. Instrumental music is easier to talk over than vocal music with lyrics. While it’s ideal to have live music, a budget-friendly alternative is to use Pandora, your IPod connected to a speaker system, or even CDs (as long as it’s easy & quick to change them.)
- Arrange furniture so that there are easy passage ways and more than one conversation area if possible. Think about traffic flow, and don’t place a foursome of chairs directly in its path.
- Set up lighting the day before. There’s nothing that says special like the lighting of the outdoor room you’re creating. Think about using candles, small strings of lights, lanterns hung from a tree, to bring the eye up to create a festive atmosphere.
Prepare table decorations so that it is quick and easy to set-up the morning of your event. For a more dramatic affect, use lifts underneath some of the dishes- it’s much more visually interesting than sitting everything directly on the table/buffet.
- Prepare as much food as you can the day before: salads without dressing, hamburger patties stacked in the frig (separated with waxed paper,) mix up any non-carbonated drinks so you just have to add ice
- Consider serving family-style from a buffet.
- Consider alcoholic AND non-alcoholic options, prepared ahead of time. Serving up a signature beverage has become practically compulsory when entertaining today, so jump on this popular trend with a customized cocktail or non-alcoholic concoction of your own. Think about the color of the drink, as well as its flavor to work with your theme/color scheme.
- Consider using paper plates, napkins and plastic flatware and cups. If that seems tacky to you, then have bins or buckets ready to clear plates quickly and efficiently off of tables. A plastic garbage bag can collect cloth napkins, as well.
- Have garbage and recycle cans prepped and ready for quick and easy clean-up once dinner is over.
- With about 45 minutes to go, simply add dressing to salads and put them in serving dishes, poor beverages over ice, light candles and set out appetizers.
- An easy appetizer could include: a selection of 3-5 cheeses based on divergent flavors and textures; balance the sweet with the sharp, the firm with the creamy. Round out the perfect platter with crackers, a baguette, roasted red peppers, olives, capers, nuts and assorted dried and fresh fruit. All of this can be prepared in advance, as well.
Okay, it’s your move: Queen to bishop? You CAN create a fabulous outdoor entertaining space, whether it’s for four or forty! Check out the rest of this website at if you need help with your space. We’d love to help, and we always make time for our readers.