Designing a Great Outdoor Party

How you arrange your outdoor space can make a big difference in your outdoor party’s success. So, whether the party is on your deck, patio or simply in your backyard follow these simple guidelines for an eye-pleasing and functional outdoor party layout.

Be Prepared

Well before the outdoor festivities begin you should prepare your space carefully. Remove any clutter from the patio or deck that could block areas of guest traffic. If there are hanging plants make certain they won’t impede traffic or hang over a guest’s head while they are seated. In most cases you will be grilling so make sure the grill is downwind of primary gathering areas far enough from away that you aren’t forced to repeatedly step through and around guests to attend to the food.

Have a Party Plan

You can orchestrate a great party by designating areas for dining, serving, relaxing and play. Remember the beauty of entertaining outdoors is that you are not inhibited by walls, so take advantage of the freedom and don’t limit yourself. There are no hard and fast rules that say a patio table must remain on the patio, place it in the lawn and use the patio for conversation or food stations. Remember, with a little forethought and imagination even a small area can be divided effectively.

Balance is key to success – outdoor seating areas should accommodate both conversation and relaxation. Make sure your guests don’t have to continually turn left, right and around to converse with fellow party goers. Try to arrange your chairs so that an arriving guest is not greeted by someone’s back. This means placing chairs in a semi-circular and orienting tables lengthwise to doors or deck and patio entry.

Consider what will be in the line of sight of your guests – whenever possible arrange furniture so your guests look at your flower garden or manicured lawn not the back of your garage or your neighbor’s shed.

Keep Your Party Organized

Consider traffic patterns during the party. Avoid guest congestion by utilizing drink stations and placing them opposite your buffet or serving area. In addition, consider individual and portable food serving stations – one for salads and main dishes and another for appetizers, finger foods and desserts. This will prevent your guests from bumping into each other during the meal. Also, when the meal is finished these satellite tables can be easily moved aside to maximize your space.

Mix it up with games and activities for your guests, especially if there are children. But make sure to segregate these play areas from dining and relaxing areas so there are no conflicts. Plan them in areas close enough to be monitored by parents and other guests but far enough away to prevent collisions with non-participants. If it’s warm position these areas in, or near shade and place an ice tub with drinks nearby to keep guests hydrated along with a few chairs for rest.

Finally, envision how your guests will travel from area to area and make sure travel paths are clear. Use your imagination when setting up your party, there are far more layout options than you might think. Turning a table diagonally on the deck and moving the grill to an area on the lawn can help you visualize all sorts of new options. Most of all have fun!