Sunny, warm, easy-breezy days are here! And while we at Ashley love sit-down, indoor dinner parties, we have to admit that carefree outdoor entertaining holds an extra-special place in our hearts. One of the best things about outdoor parties is that they don’t have to be time-consuming or difficult, and a little preparation goes a long way. Read on to learn our 10 simple tips for throwing a backyard party that’s guaranteed to be equally enjoyable for both guests AND hosts!

#1 Spring Clean Your Outdoor Space

Before you start gathering decor and setting the table, make sure you go outside and spruce up your outdoor space. Mow the lawn and rake debris if it hasn’t been recently done. Break out the blower or a broom and get rid of all that pollen, dust, dirt, and debris that accumulated in your outdoor dining space over winter. You can also remove and wash any outdoor cushion and furniture covers. Don’t forget to go over any indoor and outdoor common areas where guests will gather, such as entryways, bathrooms, and the kitchen. Give yourself at least one day prior to your party to clean up so that everything is dry and sparkling before your guests arrive.

#2 Decorate With Fresh Cuttings

While you are out mowing and cleaning, stop to smell (and cut!) the roses. Take a relaxing stroll around your home and garden and cut fresh flowers, herbs, and greenery, then arrange them in decor that will make your backyard party pop. Mix colors to make eye-catching arrangements. You can create a beautiful centerpiece with a few clippings and help from some of Ashley’s beautiful vases. Don’t worry about creating a large display; simple centerpieces can make as much of a statement as elaborate ones.

#3 Create Activity Zones

Regardless of the size of your outdoor space, it’s a good idea to create separate zones for specific activities. You’ll need to have designated seating areas and a space for serving drinks and food. If you’ll be grilling, make sure you have a space set aside for the grill, accessories, and food prep. You can also have a separate bar area for adult beverages. Relaxation zones around outdoor fire pits or hammocks are the perfect places for your guests to kick back, converse, and enjoy the lovely weather. And don’t forget about fun and games! Ladder ball, cornhole, and even croquet or volleyball areas are perfect outdoor activities for outdoor parties.

#4 Create the Perfect Outdoor Dining Table

For hosts planning a formal sit-down meal, you can elevate your outdoor dining table with a few simple tips. If you’re needing a new table, you definitely want to pop over to our outdoor dining table section, where we have a variety of gorgeous and versatile tables in wicker, wood, and other durable materials. Once you have your table, it’s time to decorate! We love the look of comfy outdoor cushions added to dining tables, as well as throw blankets folded over the backs of chairs in case of a cool breeze. You can decorate your table with linens, runners, and dishware in a mix of colors and patterns, or decorate in modern monochrome. We’re partial to a picture-picture all-white hue, but you can make any monochrome pop with pretty minimalism.

#5 Have Fun Decorating Your Outdoor Space

There’s something extra fun about decorating for an outdoor get-together. Because it’s outdoors, you don’t have to worry about everything being pristine or perfectly matched. And you can incorporate much of the existing natural space into your decorating theme. Try using real greenery along with faux greenery to bring life to your party. Add festive spring throw pillows or throw blankets to any outdoor seating. Candles, candle holders, and lanterns add a cozy and relaxing feel to your event.

#6 Choose a Menu Everyone Will Enjoy

Think of your guests’ preferences when designing your menu. When you extend the invitation, you might like to ask your guests if they or anyone in their party has any food allergies or dietary restrictions. You can also simply organize a potluck party. This will not only take away some heavy lifting as the host, but is a fun way to try out new dishes and offer culinary variety to your guests.

#7 Set the Mood With Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting creates the perfect ambiance for your backyard party. In addition to candles and lanterns, think about stringing fairy lights along a table or nearby bushes and trees. You can also string lights inside an outdoor chandelier to create a magical, vintage look.

#8 Keep Warm Weather Pests Away

Nothing will ruin an outdoor party faster than pesky mosquitoes. Decorative citronella candles and torches keep biting bugs at bay while also blending seamlessly with your lighting scheme. Keep a few cans of mosquito repellant on hand for guests that want extra protection, but make sure you pick a light scent to avoid triggering any scent-sensitive guests.

#9 Use Unbreakable Glasses and Dishware

Whether you’re having a sit-down dinner or a buffet, you will definitely want to use unbreakable glasses and dishware for your outdoor soiree. Check out Ashley’s huge variety of shatterproof melamine options in bright patterns and colors. Melamine is also dishwasher safe and can be reused for future gatherings. Wooden platters and serving sets also create a lovely outdoor look for your backyard party.

#10 Enjoy the Party

Last but certainly not least—don’t forget to enjoy your own party! Hosts have a big job, but a little preparation goes a long way for your party enjoyment. Keep it simple, and just have fun. Your guests are there because they want to spend time with you, so mingle, make memories, and enjoy. Cheers!