Outdoor Party Ideas: Inspiration & Advice

rustic outdoor party idea with dining table and benches
credit: Paul Anderson for Hunker

Entertaining al fresco is easily one of our favorite ways to spend time with family and friends. It's casual but elegant, there are ample opportunities for stringing twinkle lights — arguably the best way to create ambiance — and it keeps the mess inside your house to a minimum.

That being said, outdoor entertaining is certainly a different endeavor than hosting indoors, often requiring different types of decor, supplies, and a little extra thought and consideration. (After all, your grandmother's fine china is probably not conducive to the harsh elements.)

Ahead, we're sharing all of the outdoor party ideas that you should consider to ensure your next bash is a night to remember (in a good way).

Outdoor Party Ideas: Things to Consider

modern outdoor party idea with seating area and string lights and lanterns
credit: Trisha Sprouse for Hunker

Your backyard, patio, or even a public park can provide the perfect setting for an outdoor party, no matter the occasion. The ease and casual nature of being outside encourages everyone to relax and enjoy themselves, without feeling too overwrought with concern about leaving rings on your wood furniture or tracking mud on your white rug. In order to strike the right vibe, there are a few elements that you should consider.

Type of Party

First, consider what type of party you'd like to host. A pool party works great with finger foods and barbecue; guests can nosh at their own pace while taking breaks from a dip in the pool or laying out with a cocktail (or mocktail). A garden party has the ability to feel more formal: You can set the tables with cloth-covered tablecloths, tea lights, and a buffet of food. Or opt for something more intimate like an outdoor dinner party, complete with long, tapered candles and a seated meal. Settling on the right tone and vibe from the start will help you define exactly which type of party you'll be planning.

Music

Music can easily make or break the vibe of any gathering, so make sure to do your due diligence before the big day to avoid awkward silence or inappropriate playlists. Invest in a waterproof Bluetooth speaker to ensure the tunes can be heard throughout your entire space. For a lively vibe that encourages dancing, you'll want a playlist with music that most guests will know, so it's nice to include a mix of current hits, as well as popular dance numbers. For a more intimate gathering, make sure the music hits a quieter, more ambient note, as to not interfere with the overall vibe or conversation.

Weather

Having a plan B in place for possible bad weather makes the whole day a lot less stressful, so be sure to keep an eye on the news in the days leading up to your event so you know what to prepare for. A covered area on a patio can still make for a great outdoor party (even in rain), while umbrellas or shaded areas can provide relief from the hot sun on a sweltering summer day. Depending on the season, an outdoor fire pit can also provide extra ambiance and warmth for an autumn or spring event.

Outdoor Party Ideas: Supplies and Must Haves

outdoor party idea with drink station with created with IKEA cart
credit: Caroline Burke for Hunker

Being prepared with the right supplies is half the battle of a successful outdoor party idea, but it only takes a few key items to get everything squared away. Make sure to have a bar cart and a container full of ice cold beverages available for guests to easily grab refills without having to ask (it's less stress for everyone that way!). Plus, this keeps everyone outside in the designated party area, rather than tracking in and out of your home.

You'll also want to ensure that you have appropriate outdoor lighting if the gathering carries on after the sun sets. Stringing twinkle lights, candles, and torch lights along any edges or paths (for safety!) adds to the mood and provides plenty of light for your guests to comfortably dine, dance, and socialize.

When it comes to seating, pull pieces from inside your home to create additional sitting areas. You can use an accent chair or two on the deck along with designated outdoor furniture, plus floor pillows, an outdoor rug, and blankets to add extra comfort. Renting additional tables and chairs is always an option. It's also a hassle-free outdoor party idea, especially when you require a large number of seats.

Where to Shop for Outdoor Party Supplies

outdoor party idea with colorful dishware and decor

Having a few go-to resources on hand for outdoor party supplies will make planning smooth sailing from start to finish. Ahead are a few of our favorites.

Perfect for quick delivery and items that you need large quantities of. From lighting to extra beer coolers, it's no surprise that this online retailer has you covered.

Target will never let you down with affordable, chic decor items, but we're sure you already knew that. Whether you need more candles, a centerpiece vase, or a variety of inexpensive outdoor pillows and blankets, you'll be able to find gorgeous pieces to suit every budget.

If you're on a mission to create an outdoor setting that's pure magic, look no further than the entertaining section of Terrain. Its whimsical decor selection can truly transform any space, and it has a gorgeous selection of everything from cheese platters and wine glasses to candelabras and planters.


Caitlin Brown

Caitlin Brown

Caitlin is the former social media manager and staff writer of TheEverygirl.com in Chicago, now working as a freelance writer from her laptop in New Zealand. She loves soulful, collected interior design that feels like a warm hug, English Breakfast tea, and trips to the theatre.