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Over the past year and a half we’ve seen at-home entertaining move outside—from front yard baby showers to backyard Thanksgivings. Hosting outside does have its challenges, but when thoughtfully designed, there is nothing like an alfresco soiree. Here are our top tips for hosting an outdoor affair, including expert tips from our design team.

For more outdoor party ideas, check out our blog posts about Backyard Camping, Tailgating in Your Yard, and How to Create a Warm & Inviting Yard.

Get started on designing your outdoor entertaining space today!

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Choose a Theme

Outdoor dining set on a deck and a sitting area around a firepit

The homeowners of this Yardzen yard were gearing up for an outdoor Christmas party in 2020, so we decided to come in and help them decorate their yard. Just like with the interior of your home, don’t be shy about picking a theme and running with it! On the table, we added candy canes, sparkling apple cider, a seasonal garland, and pops of red and green throughout. Plus, a Christmas tree next to the fire pit!

Expert tip: Always opt for organic, functional, or reusable decor so that your theme doesn’t end up in landfill.

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Set the Table

There’s nothing like creating a tablescape to get you in the mood for an event. Oftentimes, it’s the table and how it’s decorated that sets the tone for the party. We love combining a mix of natural elements, like in-season produce and yard-harvested plants and flowers. Just like hosting inside, take care selecting plates, silverware, napkins, candles, and placemats.

Expert tip: Use hurricanes for your outdoor candles to ensure that the breeze doesn’t blow them out.

A couple of our favorite outdoor tables right now: Rejuvenation’s Ronde Teak Dining Table, Skagerak Picnic Table, and CB2’s Matera Grey Outdoor Dining Table.

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Shop Your Yard

One of our favorite ways to add decor to your outdoor entertaining “room” is to play up the natural elements of your yard. Bringing potted plants over to where you are gathering is a great way to define the space. Additionally, adding a couple of fresh, in-ground plants to your planter beds is another way to bring the area to life. And, as mentioned above, collecting leaves, flowers, stems, and branches from your yard for your tabletop is a beautiful way to tie the whole event together.

Expert tip: For an elegant, sophisticated look, try using just one plant variety, like olive or maple, for your on-table arrangement.

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Incorporate an Activity

One of the benefits of outdoor entertaining is the luxury of space, which means there’s room to incorporate games and activities to keep guests engaged. One of our top choices is cornhole. Why? It’s easy to store, it allows for conversation, and it’s easy enough for everyone to understand (even kids). It can also be fun to include a yard-inspired craft, like these foraged wreaths.

Fenced yard with a sitting area around a fire pit, trellis, and plants

Protect Against the Elements

It goes without saying that one of the challenges of hosting outdoors is weather, but the good news is that there are a lot of creative solutions for staying comfortable. During the warm season, we rely heavily on built elements like pergolas, which we include in our full yard package, and umbrellas. In the cool season, a fire pit, heat lamps, and blankets make all of the difference (there is even heated furniture!).

Expert tip: For entertaining outdoors in the fall and winter, it’s always fun to play up the cozy factor with blankets, pillows, and hot apple cider. Check out our guide to creating a warm and cozy yard.


Consider the Front Yard

Most outdoor entertaining happens in the backyard, but we encourage our clients to think about all of their yard, including the front, as functional, livable space.

Expert Tip: We say, “the more the merrier,” but prepare for neighbor party crashers. Thoughtfully planted trees and hedges are a great way to keep the front of your home welcoming while still protecting some privacy for more intimate affairs.

Front porch with Halloween decor, and chairs

Don’t Forget the Front Porch!

Your front porch sets the tone for your home and your outdoor spaces. When hosting an alfresco event, be sure that your entry signals what your guests can expect. Depending on the season, consider potted, seasonal plants, displaying pumpkins, or hanging a yard-harvested wreath. We always recommend pulling from nature instead of investing in inexpensive decor that will likely end up in the trash.

Expert tip: Consider Yardzen’s new Exterior Design services to help you create a welcoming front entry with new paint, windows, doors, lighting, a mailbox, and house numbers.

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