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How to
Throw an
Outdoor Dinner Party

The sun is out, there's not a cloud in the sky… It's time for some al-fresco fun! Take advantage of beautiful weather and throw an outdoor dinner party that'll leave smiles on your guests' faces long after the sun goes down.

Get organized and get back to the fun. A great outdoor party doesn't just depend on having the right furniture for entertaining. Planning ahead and being prepared means you're more likely to be relaxed, have fun, and join your guests in making memories. Whether you're expecting 10 guests or several dozen, follow the Pottery Barn guide to keeping your outdoor event as stress-free as possible.


Set the Date

Staying organized is crucial, and it starts by letting your guests know about the party. Upscale dinner parties may require a formal paper invitation, but a handwritten note or fun email works just as well for more casual gatherings. Include crucial culinary details like whether or not there will be a sit down dinner – and at what tme – or whether it's a more relaxed, help-yourself affair. Likewise, make note of any attire suggestions (should they bring a bathing suit?) so that everyone feels comfortable and included.

A Place for Everyone

An unexpected guests arrives, but you're cool as a cucumber because you've arranged your favorite outdoor dining table with a couple of extra seats just in case. You can always create additional dining areas as needed by grouping tables together with extra chairs to accommodate everyone. You can also use stools and poufs in a pinch, or spread a beautiful quilt or two on the grass and keep it casual, picnic-style.

If you're planning to serve cocktails at your party, having a few areas for relaxation is ideal. Cozy conversation nooks brimming with lounge furniture become favorite spot to sit and catch up over drinks or steal away for a quick chat.

Bug Off

Keep the bugs from bothering your guests with a selection of citronella candles arranged around your space. Use a few outdoor fans to keep guests comfortable on warm evenings while creating airflow to discourage bugs. Add torches, citronella candles and other repellents that add ambience while keeping your party pest-free.

Light It Up

Avoid leaving your guests in the dark by adding lanterns to the tables, hanging elegant fixtures from trees and hooks and stringing festive string lights over seating areas to add an appealing glow. If necessary, secure extension cords and wires with U-shaped pegs that you can hammer into the ground.


Take It Easy

By creating a few specific areas for your guests to go get what they need, you can greatly reduce the amount of running around that you do, which frees you up to take care of last-minute details quickly so you can enjoy yourself. For example, instead of making cocktails to order, set up a cocktail station with one signature cocktail that you make earlier in the day and pour into a large beverage dispenser. Have drinkware and ice nearby, along with wine, beer and nonalcoholic options.

Likewise, if your party includes children, have an area nearby with some fun things for kids to enjoy while their parents relax. Beach balls, water toys, bubbles and outdoor games are just a few of the things that keep kids busy and happy.