Summertime Soiree on the Patio!

Spring is in the air – and perhaps better yet, summer is right around the corner! With the arrival of warmer weather, taking our social gatherings outside is a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh air and engage in summertime festivities.

summer soiree on the patio

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Jay Harris to get his take on throwing the perfect summer soiree. He also shared some great party-planning tips to keep in mind year-round. Here’s what he had to say:

Summertime Soiree Tips

Q: So, you’re hosting an outdoor party on your patio to kick off the start of the summer – with all that goes into it, where do you start?

A: First, you have to make sure you’ve got all visible, and potentially visited, areas of your home and patio clean and in order.

Start by power-washing your deck or patio – including your patio furniture – a few days before so you have plenty of time for it to dry before you need to start decorating.

summer soiree

Then, in the days leading up to your party:

Clean all bathrooms thoroughly – even though your party is outdoors, your guests must have access to your facilities. As we all know, we can point folks toward the powder room all day, but someone always inevitably uses the master bath or your kid’s bathroom, so make sure these are clean.
Clean out your fridge and organize your pantry. When things get busy, a helpful friend is always running inside for extra “whatever” so keeping your storage areas neat and tidy is a must.

If you do a little bit each day, it can seem much less over-whelming than trying to do it all the day before your party. You’ll have enough to worry about by that time!

The day of your party, make sure to:

Empty all trashcans and insert a fresh liner into each waste basket;
Make all beds and tidy up each room of your house;
Close all doors to rooms you prefer guests avoid;
Straighten up your living room, fluff all pillows, fold and put away any blankets or throws.

Q: That seems easy enough! What’s next?

A: Next you need to figure out your party’s theme – this will pave the way for the time of day, your decorations, furniture layout, and food choices.

This is where your creativity will really shine, but to get you started, here are a couple of ideas:

Outdoor barbecue: Fire up the grill and toss on some steaks, burgers, and don’t forget about some Portobello mushrooms or other vegetarian options! Consider lining your tables with a checkered tablecloth and consider using fresh vegetables as your centerpiece! Also, using sturdy disposable utensils and plates makes clean-up a breeze and adds to the laid back atmosphere of this lunchtime/early afternoon outdoor picnic.

wood planter summer bouquet

Garden Party: For more elegance, consider a late afternoon garden tea party.
Finger sandwiches and tea cakes on fine china offers a charming juxtaposition to the exterior elements of your backyard. A beautiful bouquet of your favorite flowers serves as a fragrant centerpiece surrounded by the delicate linens of your place settings.

Summer Party Tips

Q: What about if you want to host a “transitional” party – starting late afternoon and wrapping up in the evening/night? Do you have any tips on how to transition from day to night?

A: Absolutely! There are all sorts of creative and festive ways to transition from daylight to nighttime parties. Before your party, string hanging lights around the perimeter of your space. Clear, white lights add a touch of upscale sophistication, while colored lights add fun and whimsy to your gathering.

backyard retreat

During the sunlit hours, a beautiful umbrella can serve as the “party centerpiece” which defines the space and provides shade for your guests until the sun sets. At that time, you can turn on your pre-draped lights and party the night away!

Q: What about basic outdoor party essentials? What are your go-to items no matter the nature of your patio party?

A: This is the background stuff that can make or break your party. The most important aspects are often the things we don’t necessarily think about but can’t have a party – much less an outdoor party – without them!

Outdoor fans: Not only are these essential during those hot summer nights to keep your guests from melting, but they also help keep unwanted insect visitors from eating all of your food!
Citronella candles: These have come a long way in the last decade or so. Now you can find unscented ones in bright buckets and pots in fun colors that complement your party décor. Line these around the perimeter of your party space to keep bugs at bay.
Background music: Choose something to add to your party’s theme, like classical selections during your tea party. Just make sure whatever you play is loud enough to be heard softly, but not too loud so as to be difficult to speak over.

By keeping a few of these simple tips in mind, you can throw a party like the professionals every time! So, what are your favorite party must-haves?

Summer Soiree Tips

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and a writer on Home Depot’s blog. Jay’s interests in the home improvement arena include providing tips on patio doors and exterior doors.

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Summertime Soiree photos by Laura Trevey