As the calendar starts to fill up with invites to barbecues, rooftop parties, and beach trips, it’s only natural that the idea of hosting your own summer fête might start to have new appeal. Outdoor parties are one of the best parts of summer, but some of us have very limited outdoor space (and budgets to match). What’s a city-dweller to do? Celebrity event planner and entertaining expert Marcy Blum has a few fresh ideas about how to make the party in your mind (or Pinterest board) a reality, without breaking the bank or overextending your space.
1. Don’t read the labels. Get creative with your seating, especially when space is a factor. “Think outside the box!” Blum advises. “When it comes to outdoor furniture, don’t limit yourself to furniture and decor labeled as ‘outdoor.’ For example, HomeGoods has unique shower stools that you can use as a side table or seating. Also, throw in pieces that double as storage, like a fun colorful bar cart or ottoman to mix functionality and fun,” she suggests. You’ll achieve a much more unique mix of styles by opting out of purchasing an entire uniform outdoor set.
2. Make your food work for you. It’s why your guests are there anyway, right? “[One] thing I have been doing lately is treating food as decor,” confesses Blum. Not only does this save on space and money, but it feels completely on-point for a summer party, which can be full of Insta-worthy tropical fruits and fixings. The cocktail area is a perfect place to make a stunning display, too. “When outfitting a bar cart, be sure to grab beautifully jarred items like party olives, capers or peppers, for a detailed touch,” Blum tells us.
3. Create a plan before you start shopping. Sure, it’s our favorite part of hosting, but try not to go overboard. “When you are preparing your outdoor space for the season, start with the big stuff since that tends to be pricier,” Blum advises. “Then fill in with decor pieces like candles, trays, pillows, etc. to limit yourself from getting too many small things.” Depending on the size of your space (and what you already have), that could mean starting with a great outdoor bench or even some hammocks, then switching gears to the little touches that will really set your party apart. “I also love a good DIY project to make decorating fun and less expensive,” admits Blum (us too, obviously).
4. Make your high-impact piece(s) the priority. A few bold and unexpected pieces make for memorable decor. Depending on your style and space, Blum recommends a few things to make the most impact for your buck: “1. A colorful outdoor rug for the space. They can be really fun, and serve as the focal point of your patio, balcony, etc. 2. A large furniture piece that can serve as a bar that is stationary or on wheels. Also, a simple bar cart can go a long way. 3. A few really colorful and giant cushions for comfy seating.” Done, done, and done.
5. Think about the logistics. Even the best outdoor parties can fall flat because of an unchecked detail (like maddening mosquitoes or a broken wineglass). For the bugs, Blum swears by citronella candles — and plenty of them! “It’s an oldie but goodie trick! Plus, they’re dual-purpose: They keep the bugs away and make a cute decor piece,” she says. As for glass, do yourself a favor and skip it altogether. “Don’t be afraid of acrylic and melamine serving ware. It’s perfect for outdoor entertaining,” she says. Not only is acrylic trending now, but, as Blum notes, “The cleanup is super-easy!”
What kind of party will you be hosting this summer? Tell us over @BritandCo.
(Images via Matt Harrington for HomeGoods)