Planning for a backyard dinner party is just the same as planning for any other type of party, only that this is an outside event where you’ll be dealing with Mother Nature’s best if you’re lucky. The difference between these backyard BBQs and that of formal indoor dinners is that it’s more laid back and casual. Making sure that the outdoors are safe and fun for everyone will see to it that everyone will be leaving the party in good spirits.
First things first, you want to show off a nice, clean area to your guests where they won’t fear of contracting salmonella or tripping on a loose floorboard. Take this time to clean and inspect all areas as well as furnishings. Give your outdoor kitchen and grill a good scrub and sanitize your pool. This might be a good time to harvest your edibles, clean the yard of any dead leaves and pull out weeds. Whether it’s outside or inside your house, cleaning is a huge part of the preparation for any party.
Have a huge number of guests but lack the tables and chairs? Before the big day, take advantage of sales and bargains during the cold months prior to summer. You can score great finds that won’t break the bank like vintage chairs that you don’t mind putting outside. Wooden crates joined together can form one long table and you can have your guests sit on the grass to encourage conversation. If you simply don’t have the time and budget, get some floor cushions, blankets, and rugs and let your guests lounge around in lawn benches or glider. Entertain your guests by putting out a portable projector screen for a movie night.
Sure it’s fun to look at flowers and beautiful floral arrangements never fail to brighten up a table setting but it’ll be more fun if guests can eat your centerpieces instead of just ogling at it. Create a colorful set-up with your very own produce. Put salad greens, celery sticks, cucumbers and carrots in separate glass jars and have a tray for dips or have a round tray filled with ready to eat salad in cups or small bowls. You can also try a basket of loaf bread with colds cuts and cheese slices served on a wooden chopping board. If you’re aiming for sweetness, try some cake pops or better yet, set up a s'mores bar that your guests can roast in your fire pit.
For convenience, place several snack and drink carts around your garden so that everyone has their fill. Don’t have a cart? Fill up an old wagon or wheelbarrow with ice to chill beer. Get an old shelf or bookcase, paint it in a vibrant color and you’ve got a place to display bottled waters, sodas, glasses and dispensers. You can also use unused flower boxes and turn it into a cool drink box. Tie your bottle openers with strings on each of your carts to prevent it from getting lost in the party.
Instead of serving sweets all the time, go ahead and offer your guests different kinds of refreshments and snacks. If you’re planning a movie night, a popcorn bar is perfect. Cold summer nights will need a hot chocolate or a 'smores bar. If you can afford it why not try a sushi or seafood bar with oysters and mussels for a different take on a summer party.
For an open-type garden, getting a canopy before the party can help you and your guests enjoy the party even when the skies turn cloudy and rainy. Get your outdoor umbrellas or tent ready on-hand. Get a basket and fill it with sunscreen, bug repellent sprays, first-aid kits, towels, and blankets. Set out mason jars filled with natural bug repelling solutions like lemon-eucalyptus oil.
Parties can generate lots of trash. Get cheap hamper baskets and cover it with a biodegradable garbage bag. Label which one is biodegradable and non-biodegradable. You can never have too many of these. If the only place to wash up in your kitchen or bathroom, set up a handy cleaning station for your guests. You can get two tables, one lower and wider than the other, place two tubs that you don’t mind getting dirty and on the higher table, place water dispensers and hand soap. You can take this idea further by boring a hole into the tub and attaching a hose so that the water can be drained away.
Hang around cardboard frames or cheap wooden frames you can get at the dollar store or if you have a tree, you can create a backdrop and hang canvas on it. Use freshly cut flowers, twigs even leaves to adorn the backdrop of your porch bench.
Do away with the usual party favors and give away some of your edibles or seeds. You can also make your own gardening starter kit and who knows, you might encourage some future gardeners. You can also take a few edibles and transplant it into pots to give away as gifts.
So that the adults can kick back and relax, use a circular stencil and spray paint some circles on your lawn to create a game of Twister. Get trash bins or buckets and a volleyball and play giant beer pong. Leave out the drinks or substitute some non-alcoholic beverages like juice if playing with kids. Take out the water guns, play with water balloons or get a kiddie swing to refresh and entertain them during summer time.