By Nancy Mattia, CTW Features
Summer weekends were meant for outdoor get-togethers with friends and family. If you love hosting these casual gatherings, now’s the time to pay some attention to your outdoor party space: Is the deck, patio, or lawn attractive and inviting? Is it set up for guest comfort? Did you divide up the space wisely for maximum function? Take a look at a few ways to upgrade the designated area and the guest experience:
Prune shrubs and hedges
It’s the equivalent of decluttering your home’s interior so it looks less crowded. Get out those shears and start clipping away to make your outside look neat and trim.
Assess the seating situation
If you invited 20 guests but you have only eight outdoor chairs, get creative. There’s no law that says all the chairs have to match. Feel free to borrow the loveseat from your living room, the stools from your kitchen and the bench from your kids’ playroom. Cluster them in small groups to establish several intimate spots and encourage conversation.
Position the buffet and bar efficiently
If you’re expecting 50 or more guests, avoid long lines at the food table by setting up a double-sided buffet, which is where you put the same foods on both sides of the table and create two separate lines. Pull the table away from the wall and position it so guests have enough room to move. As for the bar and a big crowd, serve drinks from two bars instead of just one and put them in spots that are far from each other.
Light up the space
If you expect your party to still be going strong when it starts to get dark, you’ll want to be prepared to light the party area so guests can safely walk around as well as see what’s on their plate. Start by installing string lights around the party’s perimeter. You’ll also need floor lamps or standing lamps, a hanging lantern or two and tabletop votives.
Lay down an all-weather area rug
Get a rug large enough to cover a decent amount of the floor space. Not only will a rug look pretty but it can cover up any existing stains or damage on your deck or patio surface and prevent any new ones from occurring.
Rent what you’re missing
If you’re not equipped from a practical standpoint to entertain a lot of guests, find a party rental company near you and rent what you need. These centers will rent everything from rattan sofas and bar stools to indoor/outdoor rugs and lighting. Some may even rent plants and greenery.