Perfect patio party
True: a fun patio party has a pretty basic formula: great company + fab weather. But if you want to heat things up a couple degrees, you need to set the scene with a few key summer essentials. Pretty outdoor decor, candlelight, music, food, wine or cocktails fit the bill. Here are some versatile finds that will help you create the perfect patio-party ambience at the drop of a (sun)hat – all summer long.
1 Drinks and nibblies
Summer ’09 is about chic but unpretentious entertaining. Think: A welcoming but casual vibe, yummy but low-stress food, delightful but easy-to-whip-up pitcher drinks. In other words, if it’s fussy, save it this season. Author Kathy Casey’s new cocktails ‘n’ cookbook Sips & Apps (Chronicle Books), makes a great summer patio party playbook. You’ll find a chapter devoted to lounge-worthy libations like Sake Sangria or Hibiscus Rum Punch that you can concoct by the pitcher-full, and top-notch noshing you can make the night before (or earlier). $17, chapters.indigo.ca
2 The flicker of candlelight
Add eco-friendly mood lighting with these hand-wrought metal lanterns crafted from reclaimed iron sheet packaging. (Up your green factor with soy- or beeswax-based candles.) $20 US each, cb2.com
3 Cheap seats for the crowd
Short on seating? Pick up some affordable Bollo chairs. Their solid acacia construction makes them ideal for indoor/outdoor use, plus they’re nicer on the eyes than cheaper metal folding chairs. They fold for storage, so you can buy a bunch and stash ’em for future use. Patio parties, birthdays, winter holidays… invest now and you’ll get lots of use from them later! $25 each, IKEA.ca for stores.
4 Summer soundscape
Set the tone with high-fidelity outdoor speakers. Bose’s rain-, salt-, snow- and extreme-temperature-resistant 151 SE environmental speakers offer great sound quality alongside a sleek, low-profile design. Mount them vertically or horizontally. $350, bose.ca
5 Bottle service
We love multipurpose products, which is why we think the Circ porcelain ice bucket rocks. It keeps wine and other beverages chilled and at the ready, but in between summer fetes, it can function as a planter (use a liner so you can pop out plants whenever you need the bucket) – or you could take it out cherry picking, or to a seaside expedition for gathering shells…or clams! $32 for small (7”-diameter, 7”-high), $52 for large (9”-diameter, 9”-high), urbanbarn.com
6 A designer tablescape
Designista faves Blomus make sleek and contemporary outdoor accessories. Their polished-ceramic-and-stainless-steel Fuoca gel-burning fire pit creates instant party-chic ambience without the hassle (and possible municipal-bylaw-breaking) of a traditional wood-burning fire pit. Its petite 18-cm radius makes it the perfect table centerpiece. $116, modernkaribou.ca
7 Table runners
A pretty cotton runner instantly adds summer charm to an outdoor buffet or dining table. In fact, if you’ve got two or more mismatched tables in your yard or on the patio, you can pull them together visually by coordinating the runners. (Use the same colour or the same pattern in different complimentary colours). Have guests coming over last-minute? Throw a runner on the patio table, light some candles and you’re good to go. $5 each, IKEA.ca for IKEA store locations.
8 Good luck acrylic cups
Economy-talk getting the mood down? Break out the drinks (alcoholic or non-) in these humourous, get-lucky shatterproof, dishwasher-safe plastic cups. With five different auspicious charms, a good time is practically guaranteed. $18US/set of 10, plumparty.com
9 Eco-friendlier disposables
Reusable plates and cutlery are friendlier to the planet and your wallet. However, for those times when sanity dictates you simply need disposables – a blowout, full-capacity BBQ, for instance – reach for these compostable versions before plastic or paper. Toss ’em in your organic waste bin or composter, not landfill-destined trash. $5/25 pack of 7” or 9” plates; $6/50-piece assorted cutlery pack; grassrootsstore.com
Let early-arrivals occupy themselves with a game of Pétanque on the lawn. (Trendspotters have noted a huge revival in trad lawn games like bocce, boules and croquet this year.) Pétanque is easy and can practically be played with cocktail in hand: Just try to get your large ball closer to the small target ball than the other guy does. We think the super-sleek silver spheres of this Louis Dionne set are a conversation starter in themselves. $25, CanadianTire.ca