As we’re getting ready to start using our backyard space, I can’t help but picture all the entertaining we plan to do. It’s going to take years for this outdoor space to fully mature and grow into what we envision, but I’m not waiting for things to be perfect before we invite our friends and family over. So I’m keeping it simple and focusing on the outdoor entertaining musts!
1. Ambience lighting
Nothing says “party’s over” quicker than the setting sun and no alternative lighting! Outdoor lighting says, “there’s no rush” and I can’t think of anything more intimate than a fire or twinkle lights to light the night. These days there’s also so many solar lighting options too–charge by the sun during the day and automatically switch on once it starts getting dark. Technology!
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2. Keep Away the Bugs
One downside of living in North Carolina? The bugs can quickly become the topic of the night if you don’t get things under control, more specifically the pesky mosquitos!!! We get our yard professionally sprayed during the summer months, but there’s so many ways to repel those bugs so they don’t ruin the fun! Bonus points if you can repel them while still maintaining the aesthetic. Our tiki torches actually double as repellant since the oil being burned is citronella oil! Some people don’t like the citronella scent but I think it’s so refreshing in an outdoor space.
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Drinks are literally the best ice breaker! The moment your guests arrive, offer them a drink to get the night started. Chris and I don’t drink alcohol, but we love beverages! I would say there’s a couple options you can do for drinks. You can get a glass dispenser and make a specialty drink, OR get a big beverage tub and put a bunch of drinks on ice. Bonus points for doubling as a centerpiece.
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4. Music to set the mood
Speaking of ice breakers, I would say the most forgotten aspect to an outdoor gathering (or any gathering per se) is the music! In my opinion, music is actually essential, especially as those first few guests trickling in. With a little portable speaker and a good playlist, it’s the easiest thing to set and forget. Might I recommend this “blank” playlist by my talented music curator sister Andrea?! In our last house we had portable speakers built into our patio space and also the dining room. So incredible to have. Unfortunately it was going to cost us about $10,000 to build that into our backyard (no idea why or how), so we’re going to stick with our portable speakers. Still amazing!
5. Don’t forget the food
Rule number one about hosting outdoors: Unless you’re sitting at a table, no one wants to be using a fork and knife while balancing their plate on their lap. It’s not like it can’t be done, but it’s just something to think about. Don’t serve food that’s too difficult to eat in a casual setting unless you’ve got tabletops for everyone to sit at.
Another great tip for food is to make the food the activity! We’ve made our own personal pizzas in the pizza oven, cooked S’mores over the fire, and love doing a blind taste test!
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I think the best part about hosting outdoors is that you don’t have to overthink it! It can be potluck style, casual, and just a great way to spend time outside with new friends and old friends.