clock menu more-arrow no yes
A mom, dad and child grill corn at an outdoor party. iStock

Tips for Planning an Outdoor Party

Notify the neighbors

Write a note letting them know you’ll be expecting guests. Include your phone number for them to use in case the noise becomes a bother.

Beat the heat

Put out misters and fill a basket with accordion or paddle fans to help guests stay cool.

Ward off bugs

Set up fans if mosquitoes are a problem—they can’t stand the breeze. Stock up on eucalyptus oil towelettes to offer guests.

Prep a cleanup kit

Stash a small broom and dustpan nearby to pick up any broken glass, and soda water and a scrub brush for spills.

Put out speakers

If you don’t have an outdoor audio system, place indoor sets in the back of the yard, facing the house, to direct music toward guests and not to the neighborhood.

Make a plan for rain

Be prepared to bring the party inside, but never grill in the garage—it releases carbon monoxide.

DIY backyard games

A party essential, outdoor entertainment can be easily achieved with little more than some scrap lumber. Use 4x4 posts and dowels to make a game of Kubb, shown here, or cut 2x4s down to uniform lengths to create a set of dominoes or to make an oversize Jenga set.

Grill with safety in mind

Keep your company safe by using a food thermometer to check the temperature of everything you’re serving; this is particularly useful with gas grills, which have hot and cold spots. Poultry and ground beef should be cooked to 165°F, and beef, pork, lamb, and veal should reach 145°F. Allow the items to rest at least 3 minutes before guests dig in.

Add ambient lighting

Aside from setting a mood, providing plenty of light sources in your yard will help guests navigate unfamiliar territory. If you’re short on electrical outlets, use inexpensive solar-powered lights to illuminate walkways and stairs. If you do run extension cords, make sure they’re rated for outdoor use, and carefully secure them to the ground to eliminate tripping hazards.

Stabilize wobbly umbrellas

If your umbrella tends to sway with the breeze, it may need a sturdier base. To calculate the minimum weight in pounds your base should be, multiply the diameter of the umbrella canopy in feet by 10—so a 9-foot canopy should have a 90-pound base. You can find add-on weights at home centers if needed.