Outdoor Entertaining: 5 Inspiring Ideas for Your Next Gathering
Today’s homes increasingly look to the outdoors to extend living and entertaining spaces. From planning a patio to carving out a dining area in your yard, these ideas will help you design your space for unforgettable gatherings.
1. Find the right centerpiece.
Choose a focal point that reflects your favorite aspects of outdoor entertaining. If you’re big on dinner parties, focus on a large dining table: a substantial weatherproof piece or a long, built-in countertop will make a dramatic statement that’s welcoming to guests. If you like casual, relaxed evening get-togethers, think about building a fireplace or stone fire pit with seating all around to draw people in when the night gets chilly.
2. Bring the kitchen outdoors.
An outdoor kitchen creates a natural gathering place—fortunately, you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to plan one of your own. Wood-fired pizza ovens are increasingly popular in both casual and elegant outdoor dining spaces, and can make a striking focal point, too. A professional grade cooking station can bring the kitchen outside in a sleek, unobtrusive way. Or for something simpler, add a nice grill to your patio and put your outdoor cooking skills to the test. Your homeowner’s association may have restrictions on outdoor kitchens and wet bars, so remember to first review your Homeowner’s Association Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. Also, there may be local rules and restrictions so be sure to first check with your local municipality.
3. Create spaces for guests to explore.
When planning your layout for entertaining, add some enchanting spots that are set apart from the action, like a separate lounge area or secluded stargazing spot. A cluster of stools, garden benches, Adirondack chairs or even some outdoor-friendly blankets and pillows provide varied seating and cozier options for private conversation. Guide guests there with some subtle lighting, like a string of origami lights or a path of paper lanterns, to show the way after dark. Place lighting strategically so essentials are easy to find (drink station, trash, etc.) but keep it low—too much light can kill the mood and attract bugs. Whether your space is large or small, these thoughtful design trends can make it easy to host memorable parties—and magical nights—outdoors.
4. Let the games begin.
Outdoor games are always a hit for people of all ages. Save some time by looking for favorites like croquet or horseshoes that are easy to set up and take down, and you’ll have more time to enjoy the party. Other fun options for the entire family include badminton, ring toss and corn hole. A little friendly competition can add a lot to any outdoor festivity.
5. Let the music play.
A truly memorable gathering needs music. If you don’t have outdoor speakers, a Bluetooth speaker will work just fine, and you will have the option of moving it along with the party. Create a few fun playlists ahead of time, or give your guests the chance to add to the mood by selecting music from a streaming audio service.