Ready to spend more time outdoors with friends and loved ones as the days grow longer and the evenings get warmer? We are too!

And there is no more perfect place to get together in beautiful weather than your very own backyard. Whether you’re a fan of hosting dinner parties, cocktail hours, or backyard barbeques, you can create an outdoor entertainment area perfect for hosting any gathering. The best part? All it takes is a little creativity and preparation!

How to Host an Outdoor Party

There’s no better way to enjoy the company of friends and the warmth of summer than throwing an epic outdoor party. But if you’ve never hosted a full-blown backyard get-together before, the prospect of dining outdoors might be a bit daunting.

Good news: Putting together a stunning outdoor entertainment area for alfresco dining doesn’t require a ton of work or a considerable investment. Here’s how to prepare to host an outdoor party in four simple steps:

Pick a Theme

To achieve a consistent table aesthetic, the first thing you’ll need to do is pick a color theme for your party. For a spirited vibe, select a bright, tropical color palette. For a more subdued, sophisticated feel, choose darker, more mellow, and earthy tones. Once you’ve settled on a theme, it’s time to pick out your decor!

Choose Decor to Match

If you’re on a budget, you can use table linens, glassware, and dinnerware you already own, rather than splurging on brand new settings (we’ll cover dinner party setting ideas later). Then, spruce up your outdoor entertainment space by investing in a few outdoor decor pieces you can use again and again. Colorful outdoor throw pillows, rugs, and cushions are perfect for elevating the vibe, and they can easily be repurposed, too. You could mention low-cost, melamine decorative dishes that Ashley offers here too!

Set Your Menu and Select Serving Dishes

If you’re serving a full meal, your menu will determine the number and size of the serving dishes you’ll need, as well as how much space you’ll have available for place settings. To limit back-and-forth trips from the kitchen to the table, invest in a few large family-style serving platters. If you’re having several guests, consider setting up a small side table to place food on so you don’t run out of room for place settings.

Make Your Guests Comfortable

Once you’ve chosen your theme, decor, and menu, the final step in the outdoor party-prep process is adding comfort details. If your outdoor entertainment area gets a lot of sun, consider putting up a shade sail or a couple of sunshade outdoor umbrellas to help guests keep cool.

Blankets or throws folded over the backs of chairs can also keep guests warm and cozy when the sun goes down. Even better, they can serve double duty as decor! If your area is prone to bugs, you may also want to consider putting up a few citronella torches or candles to keep annoying pests at bay.

Outdoor Dinner Party Table Setting Ideas

Put together the perfect alfresco place settings for dinner and drinks with seasonal outdoor tableware you can use year after year. Play around with various colors and patterns that match your decor theme, or choose versatile, neutral hues that will complement various colors and aesthetics.

If you’re designing your setting on a budget, opt for tableware pieces that allow you to change things up based on the season and type of gathering. That way, you can use your pieces for multiple parties and simply add in a few new decor touches to keep things fresh. Wooden serving sets and platters create a natural vibe that’s perfect for outdoor entertaining, and if you’re even slightly worried about things breaking, shatterproof melamine dishware is a must.

For simple, versatile dinner party setting ideas for alfresco entertaining, check out how to set an outdoor table.

How to Create an Outdoor Entertainment Area

Whether you’re planning to host sit-down dinners, cocktail parties, or casual barbeques, design a space where friends and loved ones can settle in and get comfy! Give your backyard a little makeover. Choose outdoor furniture, lighting, and decor that creates the perfect ambiance for kicking back with good company, chatting, and enjoying food and drink.

Follow a few simple tips to help you create an outdoor entertaining space that’s both inviting and versatile.

Evaluate Your Outdoor Entertaining Space

First things first, break out your measuring tape to determine just how much room you have to work with.

In larger areas, consider opting for multiple small seating to keep things cozy. Perhaps a bar table with stools in one room, a dining table with chairs in another, and a coffee table with lounge chairs somewhere else?

If your space is on the smaller side, scale down your furniture groupings to avoid overcrowding the area.

Choose Your Furniture

Comfort is key when you’re entertaining al fresco, so you’ll want to select outdoor dining furniture that invites guests to kick back and relax. For outdoor meals, a durable dining table is essential. Along with the table, cushioned lounge chairs provide an ideal outdoor seating arrangement for conversation, regardless of whether or not you’re planning to serve a full meal.

Select pieces that can serve double duty for a highly versatile outdoor entertaining area. Ottomans work as both extra seating and a place for guests to put their feet up, and many fire pits also function as tables when not alight with a crackling blaze.

Light It Up

Set the perfect mood in your outdoor entertainment area with outdoor lighting! Whether real or the flameless variety, candles are a great way to set a carefree mood for alfresco entertaining. You can also use solar string lights and paper lanterns. If you’re looking to create something a little more on the permanent side, outdoor pendant lights and sconces work great, too.

Serving Bar Inspiration for Outdoor Entertaining

Crazy about cocktails? Or maybe a coffee bar is more your vibe? No matter what you’ll be pouring for guests, serve it up in style with an outdoor bar! If you want a versatile, stand-alone drink station you can easily move around, a bar cart is a must-have. They’re compact, lightweight, and portable —so no matter how you choose to arrange your outdoor entertainment area —your bar cart will fit right in.

You can also opt for a standalone outdoor bar and complete the setup by selecting complementary bar stools for a more permanent serving bar station. Don’t forget the serving trays for transferring drinks to the dinner table and the all-important ice buckets for keeping it all chilled!

No matter what kind of al fresco get-together you’re planning to host, creating a welcoming, comfortable outdoor entertainment area doesn’t have to be difficult! And in fact, it can be loads of fun!

For lots more exciting and inviting outdoor entertainment center and decor ideas, check out our Pinterest board for the ultimate inspiration!