7 Fresh Ideas for Outdoor Parties

Easy ways to add new flavor and style to your next get-together

The end of summer brings a fun and festive energy that is unique to any other time of the year. And because the weather is beautiful and sunny in just about every part of the country, entertaining almost always takes place outdoors. For me, it’s one of my favorite seasons to host a get-together with friends; no matter how many friends or family members I am expecting, there is a certain ease with taking the party outdoors.

If you haven’t already hosted a dinner party under the stars or had friends over for cocktails in the grass, there is no time like now to do so. To inspire you, I’ve shared some of my favorite simple tips and fresh ideas for dressing up your next outdoor gathering with new life.


At a Cocktail Party

1. Create Outdoor Seating Areas

For a classic cocktail party, I love to arrange outdoor furniture into seating areas as though you were in a living room — regardless of whether I’m in the grass or on the patio. Accessorize the furniture with throw pillows and add color to coffee tables with pretty objects or vases of flowers. Passing hors d’oeurves to seated guests is easy when they’re all together. You can also place platters of appetizers on the tables for guests to help themselves.


2. Let Seasonal Flavors Inspire Your Menu

At a cocktail party, the most important thing is to have a well-stocked bar! When hosting a party outside, I love to do a fun signature drink, like sangria, or a fresh fruit purée mixed with cold vodka. Add color to the drinks with delicious garnishes like herbs or fresh peach slices, and then add pretty details like colorful paper straws with flags (pictured, left). These festive drinks celebrate the season and help set the mood for the whole night.  


3. Set Out (Lots of) Snacks

Placing a number of small bowls of bar snacks along the people up and mingling at the bar, too. I love easy snacks that can be made early in the day or purchased in advance such as spicy baked chickpeas, olives, and homemade cheese straws (pictured, right).