As the shelter in place restrictions are lifting and we begin to reconnect on some levels of normalcy, what better way to commune and celebrate the upcoming holidays than to have a small outdoor gathering (at home). 

Hosting an outdoor dinner party is a wonderful way to commemorate the season, come together as a community and enjoy the warm breezes and glorious sunsets the Bay Area has to offer. Here are a few tips that will help you throw an amazing dinner party in your outdoor space your friends and loved ones won’t forget.

1. Prep and Clean Area

Clean your yard. Have your landscaper service the outdoor space.  You might want to consider staining or resealing your deck if you have one, especially if it’s been a few years since the deck was built.

2. Maximize Guest Seating

Make sure that you have enough table space for all your invited guests to dine comfortably (socially distancing if you will). Depending on the configuration of your outdoor living space, you could invest in one long family-style table or several smaller round tables to foster conversation. Look for comfortable cushions and other details that will help guests feel at home.

3. Strive for Simplicity

Fresh, simple fare is your best bet when feeding a crowd outdoors. Think sandwiches, salads, finger foods and refreshing beverages. Serve beer and wine along with a selection of non-alcoholic drinks or provide one signature cocktail to keep the drink station clear of a crowd. Self-service is the most efficient option, unless you have a talented friend who loves to play bartender. Order a catered meal, plan a potluck or prep dishes in advance to lighten your load on the day of the event.

4. Keep It Cool and Comfy

Shaded areas are a must when hosting an outdoor dinner party in the summer. If you don’t already have an awning or pergola, invest in several large umbrellas placed strategically around the deck. Large fans create a breeze while keeping bugs away, while citronella candles double as decor. Fill cute containers with bug spray, fans, sunscreen and other warm-weather essentials so guests will stay cool and comfortable.

5. Add Ambience

A few simple seasonal pieces give your dinner party flair without going over the top. Try several strands of string lights (yes) for instant romance or grab colorful tiki torches for a luau vibe. Accentuate your existing throw pillows, decor and greenery with items chosen specifically for the occasion, such as candles, tablecloths and napkins that match your theme or aesthetic for the gathering.

6. Master the Music

For a sophisticated, relaxed event, think enjoyable background tunes rather than loud music with driving bass. Create a playlist that mixes classic favorites with trendy new tunes. If you plan to party well into the night, stack the deck with dance hits that will get everyone up and moving after dinner. ( I have a great playlist if you need one)

7. Consider the Kids

If children are on the guest list, plan accordingly so that they can fully enjoy the dinner party as well. Set up a kids’ table with fun finger foods and a paper tablecloth with art supplies so they can decorate their own table space. Bubbles, sidewalk chalk and yard games will provide easy entertainment.

With its space and versatility, your backyard could be a wonderful place to host an outdoor dinner party in the summer. If you’re relatively new to outdoor entertaining, there is no need to fear. These seven tips will  get you on your way to hosting a great party your guests will love. 

*** Don’t forget to send my invite ***

 

 

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