Host an Awesome Outdoor Party

When the weather turns warm, the outdoors is where we all want to be. There’s nothing like watching the sunset with a cool drink in your hand or kicking back on comfy outdoor furniture as the stars come out. Whether you’re hosting a small family gathering or having over a group of friends, there are five things you need to know to make the most of your time together on the patio.

If you haven’t installed twinkle lights in your backyard, what are you waiting for? With hardwired and solar options available, you don’t have to hire the job out. And, thanks to their popularity, you can find the style of string lights you prefer year-round at big-box retailers and online. Edison bulbs, color-changing globes, and even novelty shapes like fireflies and unicorns will light up the night in style.

If you have a deck with a railing, consider wrapping the lights around the posts. Or create a canopy of lights from your roofline to a handy tree if you’re feeling festive. These are just some of the ways to use lighting to enhance the mood of your outdoor gathering.

When it’s hot out, there’s nothing like vodka freeze pops or gelatin shots to cool you down and make things festive. If your party includes little ones, make sure to keep kids and adult versions well apart from each other. Consider color-coding or packing the alcohol-free versions in a completely different way. That way, kids and designated drivers can enjoy a frosty treat with the rest of the bunch.

Sure, everybody loves a classic, but don’t be afraid to get creative with the recipes. Add in fresh mint and lime or blueberries and basil to your vodka pop. Don’t feel like DIYing? A few brands sell pre-packed vodka ice pops — check your local package shop.

Divvy up the menu, delegate, and go potluck. Or, if you’re in the mood to host the full spread, keep your options streamlined and straightforward. People are there for the fellowship, not the food.

Choose your theme and do as many things ahead of time as possible. Serving from your kitchen and taking individual plates out of doors keeps foodborne illness woes at bay because you’ll be able to keep the potato salad at the perfect temp.

We like easy apps, a fix-it-and-forget-it main course, and fruit or single-serve desserts everyone can pick up as they wish as the night progresses.

It’s All Fun and Games

Small talk can get old after a while, even with your favorite people. Plan some low-key games to keep things exciting and work off that triple-layer ice cream cake you served. Lawn darts, lawn bowling, cornhole (bags if you’re in that part of the midwest), or three-legged races if you feel some summer nostalgia are all classic party activities.

For more adult groups, games like Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme, or going old-school with Never Have I Ever will keep everyone in stitches.

S’mores. That’s it. That’s the tip. Buy the ingredients for s’mores and either gas up your fire pit or use tabletop-safe Sterno flames. Just make sure you like the people you’re inviting because they’ll want to keep coming back.

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