Tips for hosting the perfect outdoor dinner party

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Did you know that 70% of people believe outdoor dining enhances the taste of their food? Successfully hosting an outdoor dinner party is easier than you think. These tips will help you plan everything from setting up cozy seating to creating a menu that wows. So, get ready to impress your guests with a memorable outdoor gathering they won’t forget

A group of people, including adults and children, sit around a wooden table outdoors, enjoying a meal together. The table is covered with various dishes, glasses, and a pitcher of water.
Master the art of outdoor entertaining with expert tips for hosting the perfect dinner party outside. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Planning your party

Decide on the number of people you want to invite, but keep in mind your available deck or backyard space. Make sure to account for any kids if it’s a family-friendly event.

Choose a party theme that suits the occasion. It could be a casual backyard dinner or a more formal event. Once you have a theme, consider the ambiance you want to create.

If your event will go past sunset, think about lighting options, such as string lights or candles. You may also want to add some cozy blankets for cooler evenings.

Plan your menu based on the theme and guests’ preferences. Consider dietary restrictions to things like gluten or sugar. You may also want to include vegetarian options like a hearty salad and slow cooker vegetable soup. Include a variety of dishes, from appetizers to desserts, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

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Setting the scene

Choose outdoor lighting strategically to set the mood for your perfect outdoor dinner party. Soft, warm lights can create a cozy and inviting ambiance, perfect for an evening gathering.

Create a designated dining area that is both functional and visually appealing. Consider a beautiful table setting with the right dinnerware, drinkware and utensils for the dining experience you desire.

You can create an inviting atmosphere with carefully chosen decorations like candles, flowers or string lights. These elements add a touch of charm to your outdoor space, making it feel more special and welcoming.

Crafting the menu

Offer a range of appetizers to keep guests satisfied while they mingle. Start with cheese platters, assorted fruit and vegetable bruschetta for a diverse selection. Include dips like hummus and guacamole with fresh-cut veggies for a healthy touch.

Prepare main dishes that are easy to serve and enjoy outdoors. Plan for grilled options like burgers, hot dogs or veggie skewers for a casual vibe. Also consider one-pot meals such as paella or pasta dishes that are convenient to plate up.

To complement the meal, include refreshing beverages and desserts. Serve iced teas, lemonades or mocktails for non-alcoholic options. For desserts, offer a variety of treats like mini cupcakes, fruit tarts, brownie bites or an assortment of cookies.

Enhancing the atmosphere

Set the tone by playing soft background music that complements the setting of your outdoor dinner party. Choose songs that create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere for your guests.

Enhance the outdoors with natural elements like fire pits or torches to add warmth and a cozy feel to the space. The flickering flames can create a welcoming effect, especially as the sun sets.

Keep your guests entertained by incorporating fun activities or games into the evening. This could include lawn games like cornhole or bocce ball, creating a lively and engaging environment for everyone to enjoy.

Use string lights to add soft lighting to the outdoor space. Also consider having citronella candles to keep insects at bay while adding a pleasant scent to the air.

Ensuring guest comfort

Offer a variety of seating options such as chairs, benches and even cozy floor cushions over an outdoor rug. This allows guests to choose what makes them most comfortable.

Keep blankets or shawls available for guests in case the temperature drops during the evening. This thoughtful touch ensures everyone stays warm and cozy throughout the party.

Ensure a bug-free environment by placing insect repellents outside. This simple step can help prevent unwanted interruptions from pesky bugs.

Final thoughts

You’ve got all the ingredients for a killer outdoor dinner party. From nailing the planning and setting up the perfect ambiance to a delicious dining menu and ensuring your guests’ comfort, you’re all set to host an unforgettable event. Now, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge into action and throw the ultimate outdoor bash that will have everyone talking for weeks to come.

Lisa MarcAurele is a blogger and cookbook author based in Connecticut. She created Little Bit Recipes to help people save money by minimizing leftovers when cooking for one or two people. Lisa enjoys hiking and taking scenic day trips around New England.

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