Throwing an outdoor party is the perfect way to make the most of any spring or summer night. Moving the celebration from indoors to outdoor cuts down on clean-up while allowing you to use nature’s beauty as the backdrop for your best outdoor party ideas. There’s a little more to the outdoor party than just setting up some folding chairs and tables.

Of course, making sure you have a backup plan in case of inclement weather is the key to throwing the perfect outdoor party. But aside from securing that secondary location, you can use our tips to create a cozy backyard gathering for 5 or 50 guests.

You can start with the theme. Fun themes guide your outdoor party without feeling too restrictive or old-fashioned. Knowing whether you’d like to throw an outdoor barbecue, host a baby shower, plan a pool party, or just get together for a relaxed get-together determines what your guests need to bring. Try to note any dress code suggestions or requirements, such as casual shoes or sunscreen. If bugs might be an issue, either recommend that guests bring their own repellents or provide a few different products with varying formulas. Try insect netting hung under a pop-up canopy, or at least over the food before it’s served. Don’t forget that comfortable-yet-stylish patio furniture, or at least comfy temporary seating for all your guests.

Illuminate Your Backyard Party at Night

Lighting sets the mood for any party, but it’s especially important for backyard gatherings. You may need a few bright lights scattered around for food and drink stations, depending on what evening outdoor party ideas you embrace. However, you’ll want to mainly use string lights or fairy lights for mood lighting throughout the rest of the outdoor space. An arbor or gazebo strung with the right twinkling lights can quickly go from ordinary to enchanting without requiring permanent installation. Diffused light at night is also essential for any outdoor cinema party ideas.

Path lighting is recommended for helping guests find their way to the party area and back to the bathroom or parking area as necessary. For brighter lighting to indicate where to come and go, try a few outdoor sconce or pendant lights installed across the backyard and the home’s exterior. Outdoor lighting that can be dimmed is a great choice for setting the mood outdoors for a party of any kind. With the right lighting, it’s possible to transform an ordinary backyard into a space fit for a fairytale wedding or an anniversary party worthy of a professional photographer.

Grill Out With Your Friends

Cooking for the entire party in the summer usually means grilling. If you want everyone to take charge of their own hot dog roasting or shish kabob grilling, try an open fire pit that’s great for safely stoking the coals. Fire pits aren’t just great for outdoor barbecue gatherings. They also extend your window for outdoor parties into the fall season. For outdoor birthday party ideas no one will forget, invest in reliable gas-powered outdoor barbecue equipment and try something unusual. Grilling a pizza is a fun trick that everyone will marvel at, or you can mix firm fruits like pineapples, watermelon, and citrus for a thrilling dessert.

Make sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand any time you’re using a fire pit or grilling. Fun accessories like themed pokers, silicone mitts, and even entire rotisserie setups for open flames will ensure there’s always something new to debut at your summer parties. Become the grill master you’ve always fancied yourself to be with a little practice before anyone drops by. Don’t forget toys for guests to use, like specialty S’mores forks that make it easy to get lightly-toasted marshmallows.

Find the Perfect Outdoor Seating

Your theme informs your outdoor party decoration ideas, and it also helps you determine how much outdoor seating you’ll need. Pool parties, dance-offs, and other active gatherings will only need limited seating for about half the guests at any given time. For more sedate events where everyone will sit and eat together, make sure there’s extra seating on hand in case a few visitors bring unexpected guests. Benches and seats made from durable materials like aluminum, rattan, or resin are easy to clean before each party for a fresh look without a lot of work. Make sure to choose cushions with covers designed to withstand the elements so your guests marvel at your outdoor decor every time they drop by.

Speaking of preparing for a party, make sure to clean the cushions and seating each time before guests arrive. The dust and algae that can accumulate on outdoor furniture between uses may stain clothing if it rubs off onto the fabric. Spraying the furniture with a cleaner that’s recommended by the manufacturer and rinsing it off with a water hose should be enough, but you may need to do it a few times each summer if you live in a humid environment. Use a soft-bristled brush on any stubborn deposits.

Chill Your Favorite Party Beverages in a Cooler

Many outdoor party ideas for adults involve alcohol, and even teetotaling gatherings rely on cold drinks to keep everyone from feeling the heat. Well-crafted coolers and beverage tubs give you stylish options for storing cans and bottles until they’re ready to serve. Try a rolling beverage cart for large parties where dozens of drinks may be needed each hour. A high capacity for ice ensures drinks are cooled quickly when you’re readily restocking. For a fixture that hides in plain sight while pulling double duty as a side table, try a cooler table. Open beverage stands and tubs let guests choose whatever they like and are easily scattered throughout a larger outdoor space.

Prepare for the party season with a few new pieces of outdoor furniture for your backyard. With tasteful places for chilling beverages and extra seating to accommodate guests, you’ll be ready for whatever the summer throws at you. Even transforming your backyard into a cinema or karaoke bar is well within your grasp with tasteful furnishings and accessories from Ashley.