Outdoor Entertaining - Easy Tips for the Perfect Party

This past Sunday, I attended another class at my local Pottery Barn. This seasonal class was all about outdoor/backyard entertaining, perfect for those looking to throw engagement parties or bridal showers this summer. And the tips are well-suited for weddings themselves or the casual get together with friends. I attended one of the Pottery Barn classes in the spring that discussed tips for decorating and entertaining for a brunch.

Below are the easy to use entertaining tips that have been organized into 3 sections based on the multitude of notes I took . . .
• Casual Sit Down Dinner
• The Buffet Table and Drink/Bar Table
• Formal Outdoor Setting

above photos have been taken by me, Brenda

Casual Sit Down Dinner
1. Using different levels on the table: suggestions included using either sturdy placemats or chargers under the plates to make it easier for guests to pick their food up and move, adding in a lazy susan around the umbrella to help with serving of condiments and food {aren't the condiment servers just the cutest in the above photo?}
2. Use acrylic dinnerware: no need to worry about breakage {can also be for everyday use and is dishwasher safe}
3. Add fun elements: such as enamel pails which can be used for serving appetizers or fruit, as a holder for napkin of guest, etc.
4. For an upscale look that's also "green", consider using linen napkins: even though it's a casual dinner, linen napkins will create a prettier display on the table and it's the little touches that make the dinner extra special for your guests.
5. The simpler the centerpiece the better for outdoor entertaining: consider votive candles or lanterns
6. Another item that is coming back in style for casual entertaining is galvanized serving ware: consider wine/glass bottle holder, trays, etc. And, a plus side to galvanized is that it won't rust.


the above two images are courtesy of Pottery Barn

The Buffet Table and Drink/Bar Table
1. For the buffet table, you will want to keep the centerpiece at the back of the table: this way guests aren't reaching over the displays when reaching for food.
2. A printed menu: when displayed in a frame it creates a focal point
3. Have silverware and napkins available at the end of buffet table: guests don't need to be juggling their plates, the silverware and spooning the food onto their plate.
4. Have either chargers or sturdy placements for your guests to put their plates on: they can then balance the plate easier on their arm while selecting their food
5. When doing a buffet, you can skip the salad plates: one plate will suffice
6. Use tongs: as the guest will need to do everything with one hand (ex. the typical long spoon and fork for salad serving should not be used)
7. Keep fork, knife and spoon together: to make it easier for guests to pick up their silverware at the end, wrap the silverware in a napkin and tie with twine. It also creates a lovely display as well as making it easy for your guest to grab and go.
8. Labeling drinks: it's recommended that you add a label to the dispenser with the drink name to eliminate guesswork
9. Extra Towels: have a few towels nearby to wipe up spills and condensation
10. GREAT ICE TIP: for a 2 hr cocktail party, it's recommended that you have 1 lb of ice per guest


above photos have been taken by me, Brenda

Formal Outdoor Setting
1. Use linen, glass, ceramic and silver: great way to mix textures and layers
2. Mix & match linen napkins: same color palette/hues, but different patterns
3. Use a runner or tablecloth for formal setting: making sure there is something under the plate {ex. charger, tablecloth, etc}
4. Add outdoor elements: such as a lantern, shells, etc
5. Place cards: are a great wau to add an unexpected touch for your guests
6. Ambient lighting: helps keeps bugs away {turning on the deck light will attract the bugs}

And, lastly . . . with some simple pre-planning, it will be easy for the host to enjoy the party too.
Cold Dishes - prepare the day before and store in the fridge.
Hot Dishes - bake in the morning and keep warm in the oven {then you just need to pull them out when ready}