Tips For Planning An Outdoor Party For Spring Or Summer

Spring and summer are ideal times to plan an event, whether it be a corporate picnic, a graduation party, a bridal or baby shower, a backyard barbecue or a block party.

After a long winter of cabin fever, getting outdoors to enjoy the weather and absorb the fresh air feels like a magnificent treat. To really make the most of your outdoor event this year, follow these tips.

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1. Send invites early.

Calendars book up fast, especially in the warm-weather months. Make sure you send invitations early in the season, before holidays and weekends are booked.

Planning early affords you the opportunity to have first pick of a venue, and it also potentially saves you money because you can shop around and find deals. Make sure you're penciled in to your guests' calendars before they have any prior engagements by sending invites early!

2. Reserve space.

You may not want to host your outdoor event at home for a number of reasons, or you may not have a large backyard. To avoid the stress of cleaning your house from top to bottom, consider renting space at a local park.

Local parks can be reserved in advance, often inexpensively or at no cost at all, and are perfect party spaces. You may also consider renting out a restaurant that has a patio space for an indoor/outdoor party. This is ideal if the temperatures are expected to soar or if rain is in the forecast.

3. Rent a tent.

For a strictly outdoor event, a tent or pavilion is a necessary addition. This will provide shade from the hot summer sun, and also shelter if it storms. Even if you host the event in your backyard, you can rent a tent from a local party store.

You can rent a basic tent all the way up to a tent that includes cocktail stations and a dance floor. Depending on your needs, there are plenty of options and setups to choose from!

4. Get it catered.

Cooking for a large group can be intimidating and difficult, and if your party isn't at home, you have the added stress of transporting the food to a new location. Consider catering so you have one less detail to stress over.

Restaurants like Chipotle offer inexpensive packages that provide variety to please all your party guests. Even gluten-free and vegan guests are sure to find options in a Chipotle catering spread. Buffet-style stations will help every guest make their own version of the perfect meal!

5. Plan the drink menu.

Decide on your beverage offerings and make sure to offer a wide variety. Are you going to have a bar station? Are you hiring a bartender? A fun idea is to have a “signature drink” for the event with a fun, catchy name.

For a more laid-back approach, easy options include bottled and canned beverages that can be stored in large coolers right outside. Beer is an easy go-to, but you can also buy canned and bottled margaritas, hard lemonades, ciders and more.

Be sure to offer water and soda as well. Remember: If hosting your party in a public park, you will need to check area regulations on open liquor to be sure you are allowed to have it on the premises.

6. Decorate accordingly.

For atmosphere and ambiance, kick up your event with decorations. A tiki hut theme is a great summer idea -- tiki torches will help ward off mosquitoes and they also provide flare to your event setup. Other popular warm-weather party themes include Americana (perfect for a Fourth of July party!) and Beach Bum (great for a bonfire and a beer).

Decorations can be bought on the cheaper side at party and hobby stores, and for an adventurous DIY plan, you can enlist family members (or even the kids!) to make homemade decorations a la Pinterest.

7. Find entertainment.

When food, beverage, location and theme are handled, all that's left is entertainment. Depending on your party theme, guest list and budget, your entertainment options might look very different.

This can be done relatively inexpensively (all you need is outdoor speakers and a stereo), or you can go to the other end of the spectrum of hiring a band for the occasion. If you have a lot of kids attending the party, consider hiring separate entertainment to keep them busy and entertained in the afternoon -- such as a balloon artist.

Enjoy your summer fun in the sun this year and plan the best party of the season!