During a normal school year, the month of May is filled with end-of-the-year activities, but it’s safe to say this year has been anything but normal. With the Coronavirus pandemic, many families are still in quarantine, while others are beginning to return to a sense of normalcy.
For the past few weeks, my husband and I have been working on our backyard in anticipation for when we can invite our friends over to gather again. Today, I want to share with you five simple tips that make outdoor entertaining a cool, summer breeze.
When guests first arrive, they usually move around to mingle with others, however once it’s time to eat, they’ll want to have a place to sit. For our deck, we had built an outdoor sofa and coffee table, brought indoor chairs outside and built a wood bar top with barstool seating.
For our yard, we created a path with pavers and stones that leads to seating around the fire pit. Behind the fire pit are two hammock chairs that hang from the trees. To the left, we built a small deck that can hold additional chairs, if needed. Try to provide some form of seating for each guest and don’t be afraid to bring indoor items outside, just remember to bring them back inside when the party is over so they don’t get ruined.
When it comes to a food and drink menu, keep it casual so you can enjoy yourself without having to constantly tend to the refreshments. For a small get together, put out a few charcuterie boards (check out the cheese and wine pairing guide Homes.com has here), however for larger gatherings, consider a buffet or food bar. A taco bar, burger bar or salad bar would be perfect for summer entertaining.
One challenge during the summer is keeping drinks cold. Store individual can and bottle drinks in a beverage bin filled with ice and consider providing cute koozies, too. As for drinks served in a beverage dispenser, keep an ice bucket nearby so guests can drop a cube or two into their drink if it starts to get warm. Lastly, always keep a bag of ice in your freezer for backup.
Nothing ruins a good time outdoors quite like mosquito bites. Anticipate your guests’ needs by providing a small basket filled with necessities like sunscreen, hand sanitizer and of course, bug spray. Bonus: you can repel bugs, add décor and provide ambience with citronella candles.
Set up a few games and activities for the kids to play so the parents can have adult conversations (or for the big kid adults to play, too.) Some things that kept my kids entertained during our quarantine include: card games, hide and go seek, sidewalk chalk, bean bag toss game, sensory play table and bubbles.
My youngest still loves the playhouse I flipped thanks to Homes.com, but their favorite thing to do lately is play on the outdoor swing we built from existing trees in our backyard. Our girls love to take turns seeing who can go the highest in the air.
To keep the party going once it gets dark, make sure you have plenty of outdoor lighting. We use a few light sources for our backyard like patio string lights, lit candles, twinkle lights in the trees and of course, the warm glow of a bonfire. And even though summertime is synonymous with heat, it can get chilly once the sun sets, so keep a few light blankets nearby for your guests.
Music is another way to create ambience. These days, you don’t need a fancy outdoor stereo system – a there are many portable Bluetooth speakers that provide a quality sound experience. Two of my favorite Pandora stations for casual gatherings are Brunch Café and Hipster Cocktail Party.
I hope these tips help you plan a backyard summer gathering of your own.