To throw a great outdoor party you firstly need a good outdoor area. Having a paved or decked area gives you somewhere to set up your outdoor furniture and verandas or a retractable awning will provide much needed shade in the warmer months and shelter you from the weather so you can use your outdoor living area all year round.
Plan your space
Work out beforehand where you are going to set up your outdoor furniture and what is the best way to use the space. Rather than just setting up furniture on the patio you might want to think about creating different areas in your garden for eating, an area for guests to just relax and talk, and have an area where there might be dancing. Don’t confine yourself to having everyone around the barbecue. Use your whole garden and try and create separate areas for guests to mingle.
Plan a menu a week before and try not to resort to the usual chops and sausages. Be a bit more adventurous and have grilled chicken and fish as well as red meat. Perhaps provide a vegetarian lasagne for those who don’t eat meat, and as well as salads do some char-grilled vegetables. You could choose a theme for your menu and serve things like Mexican or Indian. Having a theme for your menu gives you the option then of decorating your garden to match.
If your party extends into the evening you can create the right sort of mood easily with the correct lighting. Lights that are in amongst the garden and around the edges of your patio are better than direct overhead lighting. Lights positioned behind under trees and plants that are pointing upwards will light up the branches, giving a more subdued romantic feel. If you have a pool switch on the pool lighting. Candles are effective, which you can have dotted all around your back garden, on ledges and on tables.
Take a cue from your garden and decorate to suit your landscape. Incorporate pieces of nature such as using flowers, pebbles, shells or interesting tree branches. Make your outdoors more homely by scattering lots of comfortable brightly coloured cushions. String up fairy lights or hang candles in jars in the trees. Have a centrepiece on your table to suit the mood of your party and use your best indoor crockery rather than having paper plates and paper napkins.
Make hosting easy
Rather than having to play host all night make it a little easier on yourself by having drinks available for guests to help themselves to, or if your party is for a special occasion and there are a lot of guests, maybe look at hiring a bartender. Food can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be, and once again you can hire some help if you want to have a relaxing evening and get down to the real task of entertaining your guests.