Party Planner
Jul 17, 2012

How to: Plan an outdoor party

By: Jennifer Weatherhead

How to: Plan an outdoor party Author: Style At Home

Party Planner
Jul 17, 2012

How to: Plan an outdoor party

By: Jennifer Weatherhead
Being in the throes of summer, it’s party season; more specifically, it’s outdoor party season. It’s the time to gather with friends and enjoy the warmer temperatures while they last. And nothing beats having a good meal and cocktails on a patio or in your backyard. But before you send out invitations to your friends and family, get prepped for your outdoor party with tips and advice from Kirsten Korhani, the creative director of Korhani Home.

“The ideal outdoor party is a comfortable, relaxed environment,” explains Korhani. “Everybody is enjoying themselves without the host constantly being involved.” Which means the host can enjoy the party, too!

Think of your outdoor space like your indoor space
When you’re having a party indoors, one of the first things you want to do is make your guests feel comfortable. Cosy chairs, ample seating and a warm and inviting atmosphere usually do the trick. Take that same concept and bring it to your outdoor entertaining space.

“Outdoor is the new indoor; make sure your space is as inviting and stylish as your inside,” says Korhani. “Be sure to have enough comfy seating for your guests. To make your space feel more homey, add cushions and throw pillows to chairs, add candles for lighting, have blankets on hand if it gets chilly and be sure to accessorize with accent pieces (centrepieces on the table, for example).”

Prep well in advance

The key to a great dinner party or any get-together is simple – the host needs to be enjoying his or her time as well. The best way to make this happen? “Prepare food and drinks in advance so you are able to relax and enjoy as the host,” suggests Korhani. “A few hours of extra prep the day before or morning of will mean you’re not always checking on the oven, making sure the wine is chilled or rushing around from indoors to outdoors.”

For more outdoor party planning tips keep reading on the next page. Set the mood
Just as you would inside, creating an inviting and relaxed atmosphere is another key element to hosting a great party. Music softly playing in the background creates an ambiance without being overpowering.

“Easy-listening music makes for a great background vibe; it allows your guests to chat over it and feel at ease,” explains Korhani. And don’t forget to set the mood with a little bit of ambient lighting. “Candlelight is always nice for an outdoor dinner party,” says Korhani. Add interest by playing with different sizes, shapes and heights of candles and place them on tables, along walkways, paths and anywhere else you want an added touch of light.

Let’s talk about the menu
For an outdoor dinner party, food can make or break the scene. Choose items that are easy to eat while mingling, aren’t too fussy or complicated, and showcase the flavours of the season. “Less is more when planning a menu,” says Korhani.

“Use fresh, seasonal ingredients and stick to light proteins like chicken, fish or shrimp and some vegetarian options.” And it’s also a great time to make use of your barbecue. “A few items that can be prepared on the barbecue are always good, and stick to recipes that everyone likes and are easy to make, like organic chips with guacamole dips.”

Korhani’s big ‘don’t’ when it comes to food? “I would avoid cream sauces that can go bad in the heat and look unappetizing after a few hours. Also, always have non-alcoholic drink alternatives and plenty of water.”

Don’t overlook …
One of the easiest spots to overlook when entertaining outdoors is the floor or ground. In your home you have area rugs, carpeting and stylish flooring, and the same concept should be brought outdoors. Korhani suggests a sturdy area rug that will fit well outdoors. “A nice patio rug brings your outdoor living space together.”

Here are 5 of our favourite stylish outdoor party picks to help make your party a hit. party-glassware.jpg
Glassware
Keep your outdoor party guests refreshed with this stunning set of drinkware that is sure to sparkle with classic summer lemonade on the beverage menu. Pottery Barn, $39.03-52.26
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Outdoor candles
Add a little sparkle to your outdoor summer party with a few pretty outdoor candles. They can outline a patio or illuminate a path for your guests. West Elm, $26.29. party-lounger.jpg
Lounger
Provide your guests with comfortable seating so they can truly relax. This stunning lounger is an outdoor entertaining essential. Crate and Barrel, $359.96
. party-rug.jpg
Patio rug
Comfort is everything at a party, so make sure your guests are comfortable underfoot as well with this gorgeous graphic area rug. Walmart, $98.88. party-stripedpillow.jpg
Striped pillows
Designed specifically for outdoor use, these understated but glamourous striped pillows will dress up any of your stylish outdoor furniture with minimal effort. Horchow, $150
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Party Planner

How to: Plan an outdoor party