Warm weather is upon us, which means cookouts, garden parties, and summer-night bonfires are just around the corner. Use this checklist to set the mood in your outdoor entertaining space this season!
Ah yes, the cornerstone of any backyard party. To keep your grill in shape (and your barbecue tasty) you’ll need to give it a good, deep cleaning at the start of the season. Both charcoal and gas grills require regular cleaning and maintenance. When the season begins, clean the cooking grates with a stiff-wire grill brush, and wash the interior and exterior of the grill with warm, soapy water, making sure to protect the gas valves. Always remember to check your fuel line for cracks, and burn off the grease before kicking off the grill season!
Sitting in hibernation for the better part of the year can take a toll on our outdoor furniture and decorations; you’ll want to wash away whatever cobwebs, mold, and dust may have accumulated while in storage. Luckily, most outdoor cushions can fare the washing machine, so give them a spin at the beginning of the season. If the cushions are too big to fit in your washing machine, you can always give them a deep clean with a scrub brush and some soapy water or a spray cleaner. Or, relieve yourself of this seasonal annoyance altogether and invest in furniture with tough outdoor upholstery that can better withstand wear and tear.
Looking to upgrade your outdoor furniture? Now’s the time to start shopping! Keep in mind that furniture can take several weeks to ship, so start researching and ordering your outdoor wares early — your perfect backyard oasis will be all styled and ready in time for the entertaining season!
Whether you entertain on a rooftop patio, poolside lanai, or grassy backyard, you’ll want to create different seating areas around your outdoor space to let guests spread out and mingle. Umbrellas and gazebos are great ways to delimit seating zones, or you can strategically arrange your outdoor furniture around socializing areas — gather chaise lounges and end tables by the poolside to create a spot for sunbathers, upgrade your fire pit with some sturdy outdoor armchairs for marshmallow roasting, and designate a zone by the grill or food prep area as the outdoor “dining room.”
We love the Flex Outdoor modular sofa for the entertaining season. With its movable sofa islands and reconfigurable backrests, it can be moved around your outdoor entertaining space and purposed as a chaise, outdoor sofa or outdoor dining seat — the perfect three-in-one piece for entertaining in spaces of any size.
Don’t get stuck making constant trips to and from the kitchen — relieve yourself of serving duty and let guests help themselves with a buffet spread. We recommend an expanding table for buffet-style parties as opposed to the traditional plastic folding table, which can be heavy and hard to store. Expandable tables can adjust to the size of your party, and when fully extended they are often longer and wider than traditional folding tables. The Outdoor Goliath can extend from a console to a dining table large enough to comfortably seat up to 12 guests. Hosting a small dinner gathering? Keep the Outdoor Goliath closed at console-depth and use it as a small bar and snack buffet area. Throwing a big, backyard graduation bash? Extend the Goliath up to nine feet with its five leaves, and lay out a massive spread.
No one wants gnats and mosquitoes crashing the party. While we’re on the subject of buffets, remember to invest in some good food tents to keep pests away! Fans and citronella candles are also an outdoor entertaining must. But just in case, it’s always handy to keep bug-repellent spray or wipes for those guests that are especially prone to bug bites. Leave out bug-repellent and let guests help themselves — it’s a small, easy gesture that they are sure to appreciate!
What would a party be without the bar? Stock up on all of your essential summer cocktail ingredients (did someone say maraschino cherries?) and create your own backyard bar setup, complete with glassware, ice bucket, and cutting board for garnish. Fortunately, you don’t need an elaborate outdoor kitchen to have a fabulous cocktail station; a simple bar cart or table on wheels will make for a perfect mini bar that guests will love. The Passo transforming table is a great multi-purpose piece that can double as a bar in a pinch. The Passo is both height- and length-adjusting, thanks to its telescoping mechanism in the base and its self-storing leaf, so you can customize your bar to be as big or as small as you need. Plus, it’s rolling, so you can easily wheel it back inside when guests are gone.
To throw a little festive flair on your outdoor bar, deck it out with some colorful (preferably reusable) straws for guests to stir their iced drinks!
You’ve got the bar prepped; now all you need to set the mood is a little music! Make sure you test your sound system beforehand (if you have an outdoor speaker setup, they probably haven’t been used in a good long while) and prep your playlist or streaming channel. Generally, five hours’ worth of songs will be more than enough — by the time the playlist starts back at the beginning, your guests will have had too many cocktails to notice! Remember to cue up your party playlist before guests start arriving, so even the early birds will enjoy a festive atmosphere.
Light your backyard right to keep the party going long after dark. Paper lanterns make the perfect outdoor lighting with their relaxed look and soft glow. String them up, or arrange them along the ground for some whimsical party décor. Candles are great lighting options, too, but they can be blown out too easily. Place your candles in metal lanterns to keep them burning all night long.
Friends, food, and drink — it’s true, sometimes this is all a party really needs! But if you’re looking to mix things up, considering stocking your outdoor entertaining space with games and activities. You could invest in a bean bag toss game, bocce balls, or even a croquet set. Or, just keep a simple deck of cards handy for after-dinner games. It will keep guests entertained all through the night (and best of all, it will keep the kids occupied!)