Great Backyard Party Ideas

Summer’s here and the living is easy — so entertaining should be simple, too! These great backyard party ideas will make entertaining effortless and enjoyable for you and your guests.

Backyard Entertaining 101

Whether you’re throwing a big backyard bash for your whole family or an intimate open-air affair for a few friends, you want to event to be special without breaking the bank. The key is to keep it casual and carefree, so your guests will feel at home and help themselves. Prep your party table with self-serve fare and simple garden arrangements. Create an inviting outdoor space with indoor comforts, and take a relaxed approach to lighting, music and decor.

Party Ideas

Fuss-Free%20Food

Fuss-Free Food

Keeping the menu simple, with savoury bites, salads and slaws as sides to burgers, kabobs and sandwiches, is your best bet for easy entertaining. Provide something for everyone on your list, including those with food allergies and vegan preferences. Keep perishables at 4⁰C in an outdoor fridge to prevent bacterial growth. If you’re using ice, replace it and drain the water as necessary. Set up buffet-style food and drink stations so guests can serve themselves, and prep your party table with all the essentials, from condiments to napkin-wrapped flatware, so the party will run itself. Plastic flatware is also an option for super-casual dining. A potluck will lighten your load and ensure a variety of dishes.
 
Grill%20to%20Perfection

Grill to Perfection

If you’re grilling, make sure the barbecue is clean and ready to fire up, with plenty of charcoal or gas. Have all your grilling tools on hand, and keep your grilling station stocked with seasonings and sauces, separate platters for meats and vegetables, and a meat thermometer to avoid guesswork. Make sure all your grilling sides and meats are prepped — think pre-soaked corn-on-the-cob, ready-to-go skewers and parchment-paper packets of roasted vegetables. Use Popsicle sticks to distinguish cuts (veggie from beef burgers) and cooking times (rare through well-done burgers).
 
Sweet%20and%20Simple%20Desserts

Sweet and Simple Desserts

End your summer party on a sweet note with light, luscious desserts such as berry tarts, fresh-fruit platters, refreshing slices of melon or a selection of tasty squares nested in paper cups. Or set up a dessert station serving warm crepes with bowls of fresh fruit and whipped cream. For a truly decadent turn, try a chocolate fountain or fondue with an assortment of foods for dipping. 
 
Beat-the-Heat%20Beverages

Beat-the-Heat Beverages

Keep a beverage station or bar cart well stocked with glasses, straws, swizzle sticks, ice, cocktail shakers and ice tongs, so guests can mix and mingle on their own. A spigoted drink dispenser, punchbowl set or pitchers of sparkling drinks make it easy for guests to serve themselves and stay refreshed. Consider summery drink options, including punches, sangrias, iced teas and lemonade. Keep bottles and cans chilled in a colourful metal pail or in a cooler tied with a bottle opener for convenience, and keep a decorative trash can by the bar so revellers can clean up after themselves.
 
Stylish%20Yet%20Simple%20Table%20Settings

Stylish Yet Simple Table Settings

Small pots planted with fragrant herbs fresh from your garden make for simple centrepieces, and gracious parting gifts for guests. Or add a summery touch to your table with what you already have: beautiful garden blooms or wildflowers in repurposed Mason jars and vases, or floating peonies and gardenias in water-filled bowls. Ditch the disposable tableware for durable everyday plates, acrylic drink-ware and picnic cutlery for easy, eco-friendly entertaining.
 
Delightfully%20Easy%20Decor

Delightfully Easy Decor

Make your backyard inviting by combining indoor and outdoor patio furniture and encourage conversation by setting up cozy rest spots, such as cushions by the outdoor fireplace or hammocks and swing chairs strung among the trees. Umbrellas, sun shades, gazebos and canopies provide shade from the hot summer sun, and will help shelter guests from evening breezes and unexpected showers. Blankets and throws keep guests stay warm on cool summer nights. 
 
Bright%20Ideas%20for%20Lighting

Bright Ideas for Lighting

Keep the party going past dusk by wrapping twinkling fairy lights around foliage, hanging colourful lanterns from tree branches and clustering candles and tea lights on tables. Encircle your deck with citronella candles and torches to both illuminate the yard and keep uninvited pests away. On breezy summer evenings, patio lights and battery-operated candles light up the night without worry of melted wax and open flames. For cooler evenings, an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or fire bowls will bring the warmth of a crackling campfire to your cookout and keep your guests toasty. 
 
Setting%20the%20Mood

Setting the Mood

Keep your company comfortable and content by leaving out sunscreen by day and bug spray, blankets, patio heaters and bug-banishing citronella by night. Keep friends and family entertained with a punchy playlist of classic summer songs — but keep the music low enough for good conversation. Impromptu live music is always welcome at an outdoor gathering, so leave a guitar by the fire pit and encourage music-loving friends to start strumming — it’s sure to be irresistible to anyone who plays and add something special to your patio party.
 
Easy%20Entertaining%20Ideas

Easy Entertaining Ideas

Keep kids and adults alike entertained with some old-school fun and classic crowd-pleasers. String a net up for volleyball or badminton, bring a ping-pong table outside, and have Frisbees, footballs, soccer balls and soccer nets at the ready for an impromptu game or two. At night, bring out the cards, party games and campfire games to keep the party going into the wee hours. Or rent a projector and screen, pop some kernels and have a movie night under the stars.
 

Kid Pleasers:

• Bubble stations, rolls of kraft paper with crayons, bug jars and scavenger hunts are sure to keep the little ones entertained for hours
• A tent filled with board games or outdoor activities such as lawn darts, bocce and croquet should keep the older kids amused —and likely some of the adults too
• Be sure to put out lots of kid-friendly snacks and drinking boxes so everyone can serve themselves when their busy feet wear them out.
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