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3 Style Elements You Need for a Perfect Outdoor Party

A party isn’t a fun party without good friends in good moods.

And the best way to make sure friends can feel the bliss that lets them leave that mobile phone by the front door, and use those hands for two party essentials—food and drink—is through the magic of thoughtful furniture, decor and lighting.

Whether you dream of a formal linen napkin sit-down elegant soirée, or my husband’s favourite ‘meat-fest’ themed cookout, there are a few tips to make sure every backyard party is a success.

Furniture. So you may not have an outdoor table to accommodate the six couples you invited to a backyard dinner party. It’s OK to use your indoor furniture outside (if you don’t leave it out there beyond the party). If you are planning a more informal party, there is no need to go buy a set of plastic Adirondack chairs. Go ahead and look around the house for chairs and tables that would create the atmosphere you are trying to achieve. You want to make sure there is plenty of seating, side tables at the chair’s arm height so it’s easy to set down a plate or drink, and gathering spots of groups of about six or fewer seats for optimal give-and-take conversation.

Decor. It may sound weird to use the word ‘decor’ for your backyard, but I think it is important to treat your backyard like it’s any other room in your home. Add a pop of colour on the side table with unbreakable decor from inside and outside your home. Putting cold drinks and ice in an old tool chest or empty pots can be fun, especially if you custom spray paint the empty pot with a fresh new colour. Gather straws in a vase, put napkins and flatware in a six-pack box, and hose off rocks and sticks to create a backyard nature centrepiece or place setting markers. It just takes a few little creative touches to turn a backyard into a party-place atmosphere.

Lighting. There are three parts to backyard party lighting: shade, visibility and mood. First, create gathering spots in the shaded areas of your backyard. Usually the sun-seekers are bold and will drag a chair into the sun and yell over to the conversation happening in the shade. The shade-seekers are usually a bit shyer about their preference. If it’s a nighttime party, make sure everyone can see the food and drink options available, and can see each one another’s faces for at least the start of the party. After a few hours pass, it won’t matter as much. Now this gets us to atmosphere. There’s a lot of magic that a string of lights, a few candles, fire pit and torches can accomplish. Strategically placed, the lighting elements can add to the theme and mood you are trying to achieve.

And you can sit back in your living room chair enjoying your backyard, and you can enjoy your friends who are in such a good mood that none of them have gone back inside to check their phones.