Gathering for a party with friends and family is a great way to catch up, invite everyone over to the home, and celebrate your life together. But outdoor parties are the best way to come together and entertain, especially when living somewhere as beautiful as Mill Valley, CA. Nearly everyone enjoys a fun and casual outdoor shindig, so the bottom line comes down to figuring out how to organize the event. Consider these tips for throwing a party outdoors, with plenty of backyard entertainment ideas to boot.
Plan a working menu
An outdoor party doesn’t necessarily mean you need to prepare a complicated menu for the night. In fact, most guests will thank you for limiting the number of dishes for dinner. A good first step is to plan a basic buffet menu that can accommodate special diets for gluten-free and vegetarian diners or anyone with allergies.
If you’re not going to ask for everyone to bring a dish to a potluck-style gathering, it’s always good to opt for a buffet so guests can serve themselves and be independent. Make sure you plan to keep food hot if needed and include time to prepare some desserts for later in the evening.
Get creative with invitations
Next, you can boost the excitement for your function by sending out special invitations to guests. Make sure to indicate if there’s going to be a theme, what type of food you’re serving, and any extra information, including:
If guests will need to bring swimwear and towels
Activities and games for children
Whether potluck dishes are needed
A simple RSVP
Whether you choose to invite people via email, physical letters, or a personal call, putting some effort into invitations is a great way to get people buzzing in advance of the get-together.
Make a budget for the event
Before the guests arrive, you’ll want to put together a budget. One way to organize a budget is to draft a list of all the drinks, food, and equipment you’ll need. Don’t forget to account for an outdoor music setup, a few uninvited guests, extra seating, heating, or air-conditioning. Decorations, outdoor lighting and shade, and any planned themes for the party should also go into your calculations in advance.
Keep the decor simple and multi-functional
Speaking of decoration, make sure you’re clear about the type of outdoor decor, furniture, and equipment you want to use for the get-together. As always, it’s best to stay basic on this step. Outdoor events tend to get messy and disorganized no matter the crowd, so keep your decoration ideas simple.
Bring potted plants and greenery from elsewhere on the property to serve as a tasteful backsplash to dinner. Opt for multi-functional pieces like tables with storage, seating, and waste paper baskets built in. If you decide to splurge on a piece of decor or outdoor furniture, go for something with a big impact, like fairy lights, a quality charcuterie board, or even a porch swing that children and adults can use.
Create a signature cocktail
Mixed drinks form a central part of many outdoor parties around the world, so be sure to put some extra effort into crafting a special drink for your guests that everyone will remember for years. Of course, you’ll want to prepare healthy quantities of draft beers and wines, but an outdoor party is also a perfect opportunity to share your penchant for cocktails with friends.
Themed parties are an especially relevant time to make a signature cocktail. Sangrias are always popular, as are daiquiris and other festive beverages. It’s your party, so you might as well go all-out with a drinking menu that your guests are unlikely to forget.
Prepare bug spray and pest control
Partying outdoors means you’re going to eventually come up against some outdoor critters. Prepare in advance by purchasing enough bug spray and insect deterrents for every guest in case they forget theirs at home.
Set up covered trash and dirty dishes areas to keep things tidy. Get rid of any standing water in the area as well. You can even invest in insect netting to cover your spread. It will keep flies and mosquitos away from the food and drinks and keep your guests far from any pests that might be attracted later in the night.
Have a variety of activities available
Odds are, if you’re organizing an outdoor party, you’re going to have a few families coming with kids in tow who are looking to blow off some steam while the adults chit-chat. Make sure to ask your invitees beforehand if you should expect children and plan two or three activities for the little ones.
Water sports and balloons are a good way to keep the heat off, while a fire pit can help keep children entertained with hot dogs, s’mores, and storytime deep into those cooler evenings. But don’t forget about the adults: bring a few card games, classic board games, or a bean bag toss set-up to keep the rest of the crowd busy as the sun sets.
Don’t forget about heating and cooling
Lastly, make sure to prepare the party area itself well in advance of your guests' arrival. If you’re expecting cooler temperatures, arrange a fire pit and bring any warm blankets out from the closet to act as wraps. For hot outdoor parties, plan to serve plenty of cold water throughout the night, set up shady areas on the border of your yard, and consider stretching a patio cover over portions of the party if the sun is fierce. You should think about providing outdoor fans, misters, and sunscreen to guests as well.
Contact a local real estate agent today!
There you have it: our comprehensive list of how to throw the best outdoor party for friends and family. If you have any other questions or comments about backyard parties, outdoor entertainment, or Mill Valley, CA, real estate, reach out to Beth Brody
. Beth proudly serves the area and has been the #1 Mill Valley real estate agent, selling more homes than any other agent since 1978. She looks forward to helping you find or sell your home!