7 Steps to an Unforgettable Outdoor Party

As summer gets underway we all look forward to spending time with family and friends, and we do that in many ways. A lot of us spend that time outdoors. Our outdoor living spaces brighten up our summers with gatherings in our backyards around the swimming pools, decks, fire features and lake retreats.  Here are a few simple ways to help prepare for those outdoor gatherings so you can focus more on family and friends and less on hosting duties. These are all ideas that I have either seen at an event I was photographing for Goldwood Studios or that I have personally used at a gathering of friends and family. 


Prep food ahead of time.

  • A day or two before your gathering, cut fruit and veggies and make dips. This makes quick, easy snacks to grab and go before guests arrive.

  • That morning or the evening before, make sandwich wraps for finger foods before the main meal. Cut them into slices to make them into fun spiral sandwich bites.

  • Prep any cheese, meat, and nut trays up to a day ahead of time. Buy pre-cut to save more time, or order pre-assembled charcuterie boards for even more convenience.

  • Make your own ice cubes out of fruit and water to add extra flavor to water, adult beverages, and teas. These can be made weeks in advance, so you are always stocked for your own personal use as well as for parties.

  • Crock pots can add extra cooking space out of the kitchen, and they keep food hot and within food safety temperatures.

  • The ultimate time and stress saver? Hire a local caterer.

Stage food and drink areas so they don’t require your constant attention, so you are able to enjoy time with your guests.

  • Place large tubs or coolers with ice to keep drinks cold throughout the party area to prevent bottlenecks at the drink table.

  • Foods that need to be kept cold can be put in a larger container with ice underneath to keep the temperature cooler. There are some serving dishes that can be frozen to keep food cold longer. 

  • Stage all heated foods together to keep the heat away from cold foods. This also keeps all power cords and power strips in one area for less of a trip hazard. 

  • To take party maintenance out of your hands, hire a local bartender or servers to take care of your guests and free you up to enjoy your party.


Be good stewards of our planet.

  • Choosing recyclable plates, cups, and cutlery reduces trash without the hassle of reusable dishes.

  • If you get straws, buy paper. They are biodegradable, reasonably priced, and can be a fun addition to your decorations.

  • Avoid Styrofoam since it is not recyclable or biodegradable.

  • Put recycling containers next to trash bins for bottles, cans, and plasticware.

Keep the fires going.

  • If you are grilling or having a fire pit, make sure you have extra propane gas tanks, charcoal and or firewood on hand. You don’t want to run out in the middle of grilling or hanging out around the fire pit.

  • Be sure to clean and inspect your grill or firepit in the days before the party to avoid any last-minute disasters


Don’t forget about safety!

  • Have a first aid kit close to the gathering and easily accessible.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand for grilling and any fire feature.

  • Clear dry, flammable materials away from fire pits and grills.

Make sure to spend time with your family and friends at your gathering.

That’s why you’re having it in the first place. Put away cell phones. We spend more time on our phones instead of being in the moment with our family and friends.  Create a holding area for phones if need be to set the expectations of the event.  Remember work will always be there, but family and friends are a precious gift to cherish every moment because tomorrow is never guaranteed. 


Prepare for next time.

As you are entertaining over the next few months, think about what would make your gatherings better. What ideas or food items were the biggest hits? Which ones didn’t turn out quite the way they looked on Pinterest? If it’s your outdoor space itself that needs attention, we can help! Here at 317Grow, we take pleasure in designing your property to enhance your enjoyment of the outdoor living with family and friends. Browse our portfolio for inspiration or contact us for a design consultation.

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