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