Perfectly Practical #177 - 10 Tips for Hosting a Backyard Party
All summer long we have hosted backyard parties that we have deemed our "Backyard Pub."
It all started with a bunch, we're talking crates, of liquor that was bequeathed to us (long story.)
It wasn't just stuff that I would cook with or even varieties that one would consider normal (chartreuse anyone?)
Basically, we had nowhere to put it and are always up for a party so we invited friends over, set up the back yard, and away we went.
After hosting these parties all summer, we have learned a few lessons along the way.
Here are my tips for having a stress free backyard party of your own:
- Make your invitation clear - We feel strongly about not having children at a cocktail party and know that not everyone else feels that way. Our invites, like our parties, were ultra casual so I texted our friends their invites. Besides the usual info - time, date, (in)formality of event - I would type something to the effect of "adults only" "only 21 and over" or "grown-ups only please." That way their was no confusion and everyone knew to get a sitter and a designated driver. If your event is kid friendly, then make sure you mention the whole family is invited.
- Do what you can ahead of time - This goes for any party really. Clean house, do yard work, shop for nibbles, and cook what you can the day before the party. Anything that can be set up beforehand, do that too. I try to have back ups of paper plates, rolls of paper towels, plastic flatware, and food within easy reach so I can grab it and go and not have to search through cabinets while missing the party. Oh, and don't forget to pick up the backyard if you have kids or dogs...those of you who do, know what I mean.
- Use what you've got - I currently have a furniture graveyard that I have used to my advantage. I've used old desks, dressers, etc. as tables for serving or as the bar. I always have jelly jars on hand which make the perfect cocktail glasses. Pour in what you fancy, add the ice, screw on the lid and voila! Instant shaker and glass. Which brings me to...
- It's okay to be unconventional - We put tables, chairs, trunks, even a couch (which incidentally is the best seat in the house, er, yard) out in the grass in different areas. I want to provide people a place to sit and a place to set their drink down. A couple of milk crates under a mirror make for a great coffee table and a hat stand makes for a perfect place for my girlfriends to hang their purses.
- Keep the food simple, covered, and not temperature dependent - If friends offer to bring food, let them. It's better to have too much than not enough. Consider the ingredients if you are in a warm climate; choose foods that won't spoil in the heat. Also, keep it covered so pesky flies won't have their way with your grub.
- Lighting is important - We have very little in the way of outdoor lighting. To fix that problem, we got some shepherd's hooks and use Coleman lanterns strategically placed in the yard around where the seating areas are. On each flat surface, we put little flameless candles to give off a soft glow.
- Learn what works - We found out that a table in one spot was never used so we moved it for the next time. In fact, we haven't found the perfect arrangement yet but we are still working on it. :) The more parties you throw, the easier it will get.
- Be considerate - In the summer, the sun was still blazing so we had fans set up in different areas as well as a station where guests could use sunscreen and bug spray. For cooler temperatures, I will have throws available in case someone gets chilled. Some folks will be designated drivers so make sure you have tasty non-alcoholic drinks for them.
- Expect the unexpected - We had one neighbor's dog wander into our yard and continually throw up while the party was going. We had another neighbor's dog run through the middle of the party excitedly, um, relieving herself everywhere. We have had neighbors even wander through our parties! It won't always be neighbors that are the issue; it could be the weather or any number of things. Take care of the situation and carry on. Now we laugh and wonder what will happen this time before each party.
- Just relax - Your friends are there to hang out and have a good time, not to be entertained. You don't have to hire a band, servers, a bartender, a caterer, etc. to throw a good party. If you are relaxed your guests will be at ease too.
This is part of Works for Me.