Creating ambiance outdoors with the right serving tools, set up, and products is possible—even on a budget. Entertaining is all about the atmosphere and ease. Here’s a few tips to create your own perfect patio party setting.
1. Make Space for Entertaining
Whatever your setup—deck, patio, balcony, or garden—it can be transformed for entertaining. Low chairs and a coffee table make an intimate conversation space and a comfortable dining set with a higher table and formal chairs works great for a large dinner party. You can light some candles for extra ambiance—that’s a big crowd pleaser. A wicker serving set will bring a rustic look to the table. For daytime parties, a cooling serving tray is essential and keeps food at the perfect temperature for enjoying.
2. Prepare for a Crowd
Durable serving ware is a huge part of outdoor serving, and a stoneware entertaining set brings a rustic glamour to your party. It’s made for serving a crowd and can hold appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, and salads.
3. Mix a Cocktail or Mocktail
Roll the bar cart outside and embrace trendy mixology. Serve your beverages in a family-sized pitcher—whether it’s water infused with seasonal fruit or a rich red sangria. A drink rimmer is perfect for an outdoor margarita bar, especially because it holds salt and juices citrus. For an even more original party vibe, make your own frozen treats. You can spike them with vodka or rum for the grownups or keep them kid-friendly.
4. Fire up the Grill
A grill is a summer entertaining must. In fact, we’d wager most outdoor parties have at least one grilled dish on the menu. A portable grill is great for balcony parties and smaller spaces. Whether the grill is portable or full-sized, entertaining requires a reliable set of grilling tools to cook, serve, and clean up. While steaks and barbecue chicken are always hits, impress party guests with something trendier, like a grilled pizza or meatball sliders.
5. Don’t Forget Dessert
S’mores are a staple dessert in the summer. S’more sticks are important because they keep your fingers cool while roasting marshmallows. If you’re gathering inside, you can use the sticks to dip squares of cake and sliced fresh fruit into melted chocolate or cheese.
6. Pour Yourself a Glass
A host always deserves a glass of wine during a successful party. Use an electric wine opener to make opening a bottle quick work. Place the bottle in a wine chiller to keep it at the perfect temperature to serve to your guests.
This post has been updated since its original publication in May, 2016.