Look forward all year to hosting parties, dinners and BBQs outdoors? We’re right there with you. “There are many reasons that outdoor entertaining is so appealing,” says Marie Kubin, the founder and CEO of Rent My Wedding, a nationwide event rental company.
“First, al fresco settings have an amazing ambiance. There is just something about being in a wide-open space, without the confines of walls or ceilings,” she says. “Second, outdoor entertaining is budget-friendly. Hosting in a backyard eliminates the cost of a venue. Even if you rent an outdoor space, it is typically a much lower cost than renting an indoor venue. Plus, using an outdoor venue means that you can coordinate your own food and beverage, which can be done at a lower cost than a restaurant or indoor venue.”
Having worked with thousands of clients, we tapped Kubin to share her must-know tips for outdoor entertaining—no matter the size of the party.
Just Add Lights.
Evening event? “Lighting is the best way to elevate outdoor entertaining,” says Kubin, who explains that there are lots of lighting options out there and each establishes its own ambiance. One of the most popular: String lights, of course. “This type of lighting is both functional and decorative. Not only does it light up the space, but it also creates a magical vibe,” she explains. Uplighting is also a favorite. “This is a more modern style of lighting that adds beams of color to any surface, such as trees, fences, or building walls,” Kubin explains. “For a small backyard dinner party, adding two or three uplights will instantly elevate the backyard. When it comes to larger events, like an anniversary party, use uplighting around the entire space to set the tone for a festive occasion.”
Upgrade your seating—and utilize furniture.
“Folding chairs and plastic tables are common for outdoor spaces, but they are not pretty!” says Kubin. “Adding chair covers and linens is one of the easiest (and most affordable!) ways to elevate the look and feel of the event.” She recommends a fitted spandex style to help keep the tablecloth in place, especially if it’s windy, and to give it a more contemporary flare.
And one additional idea from our end: If you’re hosting in your own space, don’t shy away from incorporating the furniture and entertaining pieces you already have on hand (or have been wanting to buy!) into your party décor. An outdoor sofa, like this new one from Eleish Van Breems Home, can double as extra seating, bar carts can be moved for easy access for guests and lanterns can be repurposed as centerpieces.
Don’t skip entertainment—and we’re not just talking music.
Sure, your guests will definitely be chatting and mingling, but having a “wow” moment helps distinguish the party from others. One idea: “Photo booths are always a hit for guests, whether a small backyard dinner or a large event,” recommends Kubin. “Not only does a photo booth give guests something fun to do, but it’s also a great way for the host to preserve memories from the event. Nowadays there are portable, automated photo booths that anyone can rent and setup themselves.”
And as for music, it’s always important: As Kubin says, “music is key for outdoor entertaining. Hiring a musician or band will take a large event to the next level. Music is equally important for intimate dinner parties. All you need is a speaker and a cell phone.” She recommends creating a playlist on Spotify or other streaming service—and opting for the ad-free option. “Commercials really kill the mood at a party,” she notes.
Make—and stick with—a checklist.
This is less about the party itself or more to keep you from feeling overwhelmed, which can happen with all the details that go into planning, says Kubin. “The best bet is to use a comprehensive checklist. No need to reinvent the wheel—a quick internet search will give you what you need!,” she says. “By following a checklist, you can feel confident about outdoor entertaining.”