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Our Top 9 Tips for Hosting a Summer Backyard Party

Summertime in St. Louis means summertime gatherings from birthday bashes to post-game poolside parties. If you’re getting ready to host a summer backyard party, there are a few ways to take it from okay to over-the-top. And it doesn’t have to mean more work for you. In fact, our favorite party hosting tips are the ones that make things easier for the host. After all, the more you can relax and enjoy your guests, the more fun everyone has. 

Tell guests what to expect

Everybody has more fun when they’re comfortable, and everybody’s more comfortable when they know what to expect. When you extend the party invitations, include all the pertinent info: timing, theme, food, and what to wear. Is it a pool party? If it’s a barbecue, are there vegetarian options? What’s the timeframe for the meal? Is it casual or swanky? A laid-back gathering of close friends or a big popping block party? Make sure guests understand the pertinent details and can pick up the atmosphere from your invite, so they’ll feel prepared and ready to have fun. 

Mix up a big batch cocktail

If you’re hosting more than a dozen guests, a big batch cocktail will save lots of time and keep the drinks flowing with ease. We love fruity and fresh options for summer, like this pomegranate mojito or Red Stag lemonade. Or keep it classic and simple with this two-ingredient Tom Collins in a pitcher. Don’t forget an option or two for the non-alcoholic crowd: jazz up a tart lemonade with frozen berries, or offer a refreshing orange slush punch

Think about seating

Take stock of the outdoor seating you have available, clean it off, and start arranging. If you’ll need more seats, evaluate your interior furniture. One easy option is to press dining chairs and kitchen stools into service for the party. Have a shady area under a tree or awning? Spread beautiful blankets on the ground and let people sprawl in comfort. 

Rent what you need

Sometimes we relegate rental options to those really major events, like a wedding or huge retirement party. But there’s no reason you can’t rent what you need for smaller backyard bashes, too. Renting seats, for example, is an inexpensive option — folding chairs start at less than $2 each. You may also be able to rent a cooler, speakers, tablecloth, and a large grill. And don’t forget about the outdoor lighting for the perfect nighttime party atmosphere. If you don’t have the lighting you need for the event, get in touch and we’ll talk you through some great options. 

Keep it breezy

The bane of a summer backyard party? Bugs. Nobody wants to fight a swarm of flies for a drink refill or slap mosquitoes while they’re trying to chat. Fans are the best way to keep bugs away from party areas. Plus, a cooling breeze is a great idea for St. Louis summertime parties. Mosquitoes are weak fliers, so even if the fan is low, it can create enough airflow to keep them away. Place fans strategically to keep the air moving through different areas of the party. A tabletop fan for the food and drinks is also a good idea.

Master the party music playlist

The music may not be the focus, but it certainly is a big factor when it comes to the party atmosphere. Michael Antonia, owner of Flashdance, a production company in Los Angeles, suggests going heavy on classics: Rolling Stones, Beatles, Steve Wonder, Michael Jackson. Build a playlist of well-known bands and songs people know, then mix in some new tunes here and there to keep it fresh and exciting.

Designate areas for activities

Think about the different activities going on throughout the party. That means more than party games; you also need to think through the logistical activities like refilling drinks, serving food, having quiet conversations, playing with kids, and eating. Arrange seating in a few different areas so people can gather in small groups. Set up a play area for kids with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and kid-friendly drinks in a cooler. Hang signs and use banners to indicate what each area is for, and use walkway lighting to direct traffic flow and create perimeters. 

Cook ahead, or get it catered

Minimize cooking time during the actual event as much as possible. Firing up the grill at the peak of the party can add excessive heat. And you don’t want to be inside trying to finish up those dishes while your guests are out on the deck or porch. So think through the menu and the preparation. If you’re planning to grill, move the grill itself off to the side. Depending on the party timeline, you might want to do most of the grilling ahead of time, and heat things up just before serving. Choose easy, make-ahead sides or look into catering or purchased options to keep it simple.  

Party into the night

We love a summer brunch or a lazy afternoon at the pool, but if you know anything about St. Louis summers, you know that the humidity and heat can really dampen the festivities. If your summer backyard party will happen during one of the hottest months, make it an evening event. You can kick things off in the late afternoon if you want time for swimming and outdoor games. Then, as the sun dips behind the trees, kick on the outdoor lights, turn up the tunes, and serve up the food. With some well-designed lighting, you and your guests can fully enjoy a great party atmosphere well into the night.

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