Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Outdoor Party Tips

If you love to entertain during the summer look below for some of my party recommendations:

1. Umbrellas: not for rain, but for shade! Nothing like a hot sun, sunburn, and fatigue to put you more in the mood for a nap. Either use on a patio table or stake into the ground where people can sit underneath on the grass. Even better- place some outdoor pillows and cushions for comfort. If a patio umbrella isn't in your budget, be creative & use store a few regular umbrellas in a cute basket in case of a very hot day. A gazebo or canopy would be another option. For a DIY project, try building your own pergola here. Then, drape light fabric on top to provide shade.

2. Lighting: 
  • I recently purchased this votive holder that goes around the umbrella base on your patio table. I admired a friends and found one similar at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for $8 (with the coupon). Instead of traditional votives, use citronnella votives (found at many stores). 
  • Tiki torches (inexpensive ones can be purchased at Lowe's, Target, supermarkets, HomeGoods, Marshalls, etc). 
  • Place lanters around your outdoor space. Hanging paper lanterns are also a fun alternative, and can add color to your space. The colored ones shown below are from Pier 1 at a great price- set of 3, only $12.
  • I love using holiday white lights, or other lights on a string and draped around your outdoor space or around a tree/bush.

3. Coolers: to hold cold drinks (enough said). Also, use a small cooler to hold sunscreens over ice for those parties held during the day so no one gets torched by the sun.

4. Tip: keep food inside to prevent any bacteria infections and to keep the bugs away.

5. Trashcan/Recycling Bin: keep your space clean with a trashcan and/or recycling bin (plastic baskets or bins work well, too) for guests to throw away their empty cups/plates, etc, cans, or bottles. Check the $1 store, $5 and Below, Bed, Bath, & Beyond for inexpensive options.

6. Decor: either use festive decorations if celebrating a holiday, or fill a clear vase with:
  • stones or marbles surrounding a candle or floating candle in water
  • colored candles in clear taller vase
  • fresh flowers
  • stones or marbles with floating flowers (cut off stems)
  • candy (guests can eat them, too!)
  • Hang lei's around your space for a Hawaiian theme (a party store has a variety of decorations)
  • Stones, marbles can be purchased in a variety of colors at AC Moore or Michaels (use a coupon!). These stores also carry the clear "diamonds" for a luxe look. 
  • If using candles, I'd suggest using citronella to keep bugs away. 
7. Seating: whether you place blankets, pillows, cushions on the ground as mentioned above in lighting, or scatter chairs or benches around the area. Borrow extra chairs from family and friends, or rent locally (for a charge). Bean bags would be another fun option. Ensure enough seating for your guests.

8. Music/Games: Do you have an outdoor outlet for your iPod? Make sure you have a party playlist ready. Try Stereo Mood for creating a perfect party playlist depending on the "mood" of the party. Games, such as Table Topics can get the conversations going.

9. Plan & Prepare! You don't want to miss your entire party because you're cooking and preparing the food. Make a to-do list so you don't have to run out last minute (if this happens, you can always call a friend to pick it up on their way). Schedule time in advance to cook, set out the dishes, set up the outdoor space. Give yourself enough time in the day of to do last minute touches before your guests arrive.

10. Lastly, don't stress. Have fun & enjoy the party! You will probably forget at least 1 thing, but no one will notice and you'll remember the next time. Plus, there's nothing more to do than to enjoy all your hard work with your friends! Don't forget to snap some pictures for those summer memories!!

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