Summer is the perfect season to bring the indoors outside and gather with friends for food, drinks and fun times. Whether you have a big budget or not, planning a backyard party (or apartment rooftop terrace party) you can wow your guests with these tips.
With a more laid-back atmosphere outside, guests will want to have a place to sit down. If you have a patio set, move the table away from the chairs and use it for a food and drink station, and place the chairs in a semi-circle for an inviting setup. If you have the budget, invest in some moroccan poufs (go to Chinatown or pick up a straw pouf from IKEA) or large pillows to create a chill out area.
Summer nights can get a little nippy sometimes, so create warmth (and a focal point) with a fire pit, which can also double as a DIY s’more station. If you can’t have fire, a heat lamp is a good investment as well. If you’re short on space, a few fleece blankets in a cute pattern will work in a pinch. We love IKEA’s Springkorn Throw which feature fun tropical prints.
This is one of the most important parts of a backyard fete. Lighting can set the mood and add a romantic touch to a stack of red Dixie cups. String Christmas lights overhead or put inexpensive tea lights around your food station. A few tall lanterns with candles also create an eclectic atmosphere, and can create a serene focal point.
Whether you go BYOB or buy the booze yourself, you should definitely offer an array of mixes or a signature drink. In a large glass vessel, create a summery cocktail and add basil for a fresh touch. You can also use mason jars or a mix of flea market glass cups for a hip, yet inexpensive vibe. It’s also a good idea to have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks for guests that are driving. A pitcher of sweet iced tea or bottles of unique soda (try Inca Cola or anything with blood orange), will keep guests happy.
If you’re not planning a full on dinner party, give your guests something to munch on with bite-sized grub. An easy, sure-fire hit would be chicken yakitori sliders. Simply grill chicken, place on a skewer and drizzle your favourite sauce or look for one online. Another chic idea would be to prepare an apperitivo board filled with your favourite cheeses, prosciutto, artisan bread, olives and in-season cherries or raspberries. This balances salty and sweet and is the perfect palette for a glass of red wine or cocktails.
This is definitely the most important and overlooked elements to planning any party. Save yourself the pressure by creating your perfect playlist AHEAD of time, not two hours before guests arrive. This will give you the time to curate a selection of songs to set the mood you want for your party. It’s also a good idea to give the playlist a test run and see if it puts you into a happy mood. If you’re not the best DJ, websites like Songza have plenty of playlists to set the tone for your gathering.
You don’t have to go all out with floral arrangements or furniture. Bring the indoors out with a rug to define your space. Or invest in a chic outdoor rug that will add life to a wood deck or concrete balcony.
Don’t feel pressured to put on the perfect night. Backyard gatherings are usually more casual, so little touches (a gourmet cheese here, signature cocktail there) will wow guests into thinking you’re Martha Stewart.