Whether you love the fresh air or you just like easier cleanup, millions of people prefer celebrating outdoors. But not every outdoor party goes as smoothly as we’d like – sometimes, all it takes is a bit of bad weather or insufficient food planning to turn a would-be great event into a disaster.
What steps can you take as a host to plan and execute better outdoor parties?
Get an Outdoor Kitchen
According to RTA Outdoor Living, one of the best moves you can make is buying an outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens aren’t cheap, especially if you want all the bells and whistles, but it’s a great investment if you plan on hosting many gatherings outdoors – and it can boost the value of your home, at least partially paying for itself over time.
With an outdoor kitchen, you’ll be able to cook all your food outdoors, meaning you can spend more time with guests and less time running around in an empty indoor kitchen. On top of that, the outdoor kitchen is an excellent conversation piece, giving your guests something to admire and talk about. And when you’re done cooking, cleanup is a breeze.
Invite the Right People
You can make your outdoor parties better by inviting the right people. Think carefully about your guest list and only invite people you feel are going to add value to the gathering.
• Choose an appropriate number of people for the vibe you want. There’s no “right” way to throw an outdoor party; it’s all about what you’re trying to achieve. Are you hoping for a small, intimate gathering where the guests can really get to know each other and discuss important topics? If so, try not to invite more than 4-6 people. Are you hoping to have a more casual mixer or dance party? If so, you better invite at least 8 people. Also, keep in mind that not everyone you invite is going to attend; adjust your numbers down slightly, accordingly.
• Recognize existing connections. Pay attention to existing connections that exist between your friends, family members, and neighbors. Among the people you’re considering inviting, how many already know each other? Inviting people who already have a connection with each other means your guest pool is going to be warmer and more conducive to interaction. Then again, inviting total strangers can also be fun; use your best judgment.
• Aim for a mix. Generally, parties are more fun when they have a mix of different types of people. Some of your friends are louder, while others are quieter and more contemplative. Some of your friends want to aggressively dance, while others want to sit and peacefully sip a drink. Try to have a mix of different people at your party.
Decide on a Theme
Though not required, you could attract more interest in your party and, in some ways, make your life easier by choosing a theme for the party. Do you want everyone to dress up like it’s the 1960s? Are you all going to pretend like you’re in Hawaii? Choose foods, drinks, and decorations that fit your theme – and don’t feel pressured to take it too seriously.
Send Out Invites (Well in Advance of the Party)
Depending on the nature of your party, it’s good form to send out invitations at least a few weeks in advance – and possibly a month or longer in advance. The more time you give your guests, the higher your attendance is going to grow.
Buy Extra Everything
Parties quickly become lame if you run out of something essential, like food, napkins, or other important materials. Get to have the problem by buying extra or by having your guests bring contributions to complement what you already have.
Provide Clear Directions
Don’t leave anything to chance. Provide clear directions on how to get to your house and what to do when people get to your house. Should they immediately go around to the back of the house? Is there a fence they should open? It may also help to post signage around the outside of your house to avoid confusion.
Make the Food and Drinks Easily Accessible
If you’ve ever thrown a party or paid attention to human behavior at one, you know that most people eventually congregate around whatever foods and drinks are available. Make your refreshments readily accessible outdoors, and put them in a spot conducive to gathering – like in the middle of a large table.
Put Together an Inoffensive Playlist
Music can make or break your party. You’ll want to put together a playlist with some bangers, but unless you know all your guests well, it’s a good idea to make inoffensive choices. This isn’t the time to try and convince your audience that Swedish black metal is truly an underappreciated genre.
Plan on a Couple of Icebreakers
Icebreakers and icebreaker games can liven up your party and help your guests get to know each other better. This is especially important if you’re inviting lots of people who have never met. Even simple guessing games can make sure the party gets off on the right foot.
Have a Rain Plan
If you’re celebrating outdoors, you know there’s always a risk of inclement weather. If it starts to rain, if it gets too cold, or if you encounter some other outdoor-specific problems, you’ll be glad you have a backup plan in place. Are you planning to move everyone inside? Are you simply going to reschedule? Can everyone fit under your awning until the rain stops?
Hosting an outdoor party can be stressful, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself. No matter how carefully you plan, some things are going to go wrong. And even if you didn’t plan anything, if you have the right people at your party, it’s going to be fun no matter what happens.
The more experience you get with planning and hosting outdoor parties, the easier it’s going to get.