10 Tips for Backyard Entertaining

A folding table with table cloth and barware

Backyard entertaining

Sometimes when the universe blesses you with that perfect, sunny day, it’d be a crime not to invite guests over just to celebrate! Even if you don’t have anything planned in advance, we have a few ideas for throwing a last-minute party, while still impressing your guests and showing them a good time. Below are some of our favorite tips for outdoor entertaining on the fly!

Keep pre-stuffed silverware bags on hand

1. Prep for those unexpected moments

We know that sounds like an oxymoron, but if you love to have people over, make life easier by doing some of the hard work well before you even know you’ll be having people over. Go ahead and stuff some of our silverware bags with old, even mis-matched silverware, and keep it in a basket. Then when the time is right, you can pull them out with the chicest of ease, and no one will know you didn’t perfectly wrap each and every one that day!

Use a card table as a bar

2. A fabulous tablecloth transforms a folding table

Do we really need to explain this one? A plastic folding table is great to have in the basement in case the moment strikes you. Just cover it in your favorite table cloth, and you have the perfect outdoor bar, an elegant dining table, or a party-ready buffet!

Limoncello spritzer recipe

3. Throw it all in a pretty jar

Our recipe for Limoncello Spritzers requires little more than dumping a few ingredients in a large beverage jar with some ice. Refreshing and virtually effortless!

Sunscreen, bug spray, and towels for outdoor party guests

4. Anticipate Your Guests Needs

If you’re throwing an outdoor get-together, we guarantee someone will ask you for the following: sunscreen, bug spray, and a towel. Have everything on hand, ready to go, so you don’t have to tear yourself away from lively conversation to go track down the only clean towel in your house … or is that just us?

Use a basket as a cooler

5. Play it by ear

We didn’t have a cooler on hand, so we improvised with a large basket filled with a trash bag. It worked like a charm and sure looked nicer than a giant piece of plastic! Lesson learned? Don’t be afraid to use unexpected materials for your party.

Bandanas for napkins are laid-back and playful


6. Add a touch of whimsy

Who says your dinner napkins have to be, well, napkins? We used blue bandanas which are just a dollar a piece at the hardware store!  Perfect when you want to incorporate a new color and you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on new linens.

An internet radio is an easy party solution

7. Pick Your Favorite Internet Radio

No need to spend time compiling your favorite songs from your music library into a playlist. Turn on your favorite internet radio and they’ve done the work for you!

Throw blankets in case it gets cool at night

8. Keep cotton throw blankets on hand

If you live somewhere that gets chilly at night, it’s always nice to have some lightweight throw blankets. Or maybe you don’t have enough seating, people can go picnic-style!

Baskets for hauling supplies outdoors

9. You need a few baskets with handles

Repeat after me, baskets are my friend! Specifically, baskets with sturdy handles so you can easily carry supplies into the backyard without making a dozen trips!

Use plastic cups in case your friends get clumsy

10. Melamine dinnerware and plastic glasses are key!

We can’t say enough how much we love our outdoor cafe glasses. You’d swear they are actual glass if you just saw them but they’re light and won’t shatter, making them the ideal option for a hostess who loves to take the party outdoors. No chance of breaking and you won’t strain your back carrying everything across the yard!

For more entertaining ideas, browse our Entertaining Pinterest board, or find more entertaining ideas on How to Decorate!

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply

    Judy M

    July 15, 2014

    Wonderful tips with lots of inspiring ideas. Love the pictures too. Thanks for ALL of your entertaining and decorating ideas!