Summer is in full swing and people are gathering in backyards, pools, porches and decks to enjoy good food, drink and friendly company.  The idea of throwing a “dinner party” may sound stodgy or old-fashioned to some, but the season takes some of the pressure off, and you too can host a great soiree that doesn’t make your house feel like Downton Abbey. Use these tips to create the perfect outdoor dinner party with less stress and more fun!

Have A Set Dinnertime (ish)

If you’re hosting a barbecue, let people know when they can expect to eat. Some guests may not be able to be present for the whole event, but by telling people that dinner will be served from 6 to 7 pm, they may be able to better plan an appearance. Plus, you won’t have to keep firing up the grill for every latecomer.

Have A Weather Plan

The only thing you have absolutely zero control over is the weather. Chances are if it starts to downpour as dessert is being served, people will head for cover, so there’s really no need to tell them the rain plan is “go inside”. That being said, make sure your home is ready for a sudden influx of guests should you need to get out of the rain. Have towels handy, a bin for wet or muddy shoes at the door, and board games ready for the party to continue inside.

Have A Seat For Everyone

Whether it’s folding, beachy, rocking or floating in the pool, make sure to have enough chairs for everyone. Benches make for cozy spots for conversation, and patio sets mean a small group can enjoy the party together in comfort. If you don’t have enough seats, consider renting chairs or other equipment. It can be surprisingly inexpensive, and many companies will deliver and pick up, meaning less work for you.

Light The Way

If your party is rockin’ and heading from day into night, a little light can go a long way. Create a fun and festive atmosphere with lanterns, solar lawn lights or even Christmas lights strung in the trees or over the patio.

Beat the Bugs

When you’re outdoors, the critters inevitably find you. Help guests keep bugs at bay by offering insect repellant wipes. Products with DEET can damage synthetic fabrics like swimsuits, so opt for repellant picaridin or natural oils like lemon balm (citronella) and lavender.

Mood Music

Even though everyone will be chatting and having a good time, nothing beats any potential awkward silences like a good music playlist. Go for classics like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and other fun “singable” songs. Keep the party playlist up for five to six hours; anyone noticing that the playlist has started over at that point has either overstayed their welcome or needs another margarita.

Keep the Kids Entertained

Depending on the ages of the children attending the party, sprinklers, bubbles and lawn games can keep them entertained while adults enjoy cocktails. Consider hiring a neighborhood babysitter to keep an eye on things.

Keep it Cool

Chances are, an outdoor party in the summer will involve some heat. Keep guests cool by having plenty of ice ready for drinks, and have some sunscreen on hand in case someone forgot to apply before arriving. Having some umbrellas or parasols can also keep the sun at bay during your big event. Bring the fans outdoors to keep air moving, or offer guests decorative hand fans to create some self-powered cooling relief.

Bonus Tip – Hire an Event Planner!

A seasoned event planner can help you create the perfect outdoor dinner party, whether you want help designing a festive space or planning the best menu. Nobody wants to stress out over a summer get-together, so call An Inspired Affair today to see how their team can make your outdoor party a total breeze!