August is almost here and if you’ve been toying around with the idea of hosting an outdoor party, there’s no better time than now! We know the details can feel daunting enough to talk ourselves out of it, but it doesn’t need to be stressful. With some forethought and a checklist to follow, you’ll be well on your way to creating special summer memories with those who mean the most to you (or, making friends with the neighbours on your block)!
You can take the following checklist as guidelines, picking and choosing the details that feel most important to you, and adding your own creativity and comforts. Just remember, it doesn’t need to be an elaborate party in order for it to be enjoyed! So here’s full permission to toss perfection away.
Outdoor Party Planning Checklist:
Party invitation – Consider including dining time, what to bring, what to wear and what will happen in case of rain. Give your guests an idea of the vibe (musical instruments and children welcome?) so they can come prepared
Notify the neighbours – Give them notice of any potential noise, crowd or parking concern, but also consider extending the invite! Sometimes this is the best way to win crowds. Whether or not they come, they will likely feel appreciative that they were considered and included.
Tables and chairs – Prepare with enough seating. You can consider bringing dining chairs, stools and even ottomans outside, but remember too that you can ask guests to bring lawn chairs if they have some at home. Picnic blankets, cushions, tree stumps, and even a hammock make for a casual atmosphere. If needed, renting folding chairs is a surprisingly inexpensive option.
Tableware - Consider placemats, napkins and/or tablecloths. Plates/bowls, cutlery and drinking glasses will be necessary. Mason jars are a quick way to increase capacity if that’s your style! Serving plates, bowls, utensils and trays may be needed, even if it’s a potluck.
Lighting - Candles, torches, lamps, string lights or patio lanterns make for easy ambient lighting.
Décor – Add a pop of summer colour with paper lanterns, place settings and outdoor cushions. Add a taste of rustic DIY or classy elegance with menu signs and fresh flowers or greenery. If you have some lightweight side tables that are easy enough to move, consider bringing a couple out and using these for the above.
Music – Plan ahead with a 5 hour playlist. Choose music according to the vibe you’re going for (upbeat and lively, jazzy, ambient, etc.) and consider directing speakers against the side of a house for a more even soundscape. You can often find premixed playlists according to the genre you’d like through apps like Spotify and Apple.
Consider temperature – Shade hot sun with patio umbrellas, and offer handheld fans or cold compressed cloths in icy water. Have warm blankets, shawls, or even portable heaters on-hand for cooler nights.
Mosquito repellent – Plug-in a few fans, light citronella candles or offer guests natural and healthy fly repellent options.
Entertainment - Games are always a hit! If you need, google some outdoor lawn games. If the weather is calm (read: no wind), card games are often fun and easy to jump into. Keep the children busy with beach balls, bubbles and games. Bocce ball is a hit for big kids, too!
Take care of waste - Prep ahead by setting up some type of receptacles for compost, recycling and landfill waste, to ease post-party clean up time.
Food – Whether a buffet, plated meal, tapas or potluck, create thoughtful ingredient cards for those who may have food preferences. Even for a potluck, create blank ingredient cards for guests to fill-in for their respective dishes. Mesh covers are handy to protect food and beverages. Don't forget the condiments! And if you’re looking for a tasty treat that’ll feed the masses, check out these Oat Fudge Bars from Bows & Bentos!
Drink - Stock a cooler, ice bucket, ice, tongs, and keep a bar towel handy, along with a corkscrew and bottle opener. A blender will be needed if blending drinks, and possibly a power source and extension cord. Water is a must-have under the hot summer sun!
Washrooms- Consider having a sign (on the patio door if in your yard) notifying guests where they can find the washroom.
Recruit help – From pre or post party clean up to serving guests, you'll always be grateful for thinking ahead and enrolling a professional, friend, family member or a teen’s paid or “volun-told” hand.
Hosting beyond the party – Do you love hosting, beyond the summertime and holidays? If you’ve ever thought about Airbnb’ing your home or a space on your property, we have a blog post here for insight and tips!
Happy memory-making and sun-soaking from Room to Breathe!