Planning a dinner party is never easy, but an outdoor dinner party can be particularly tricky. Not only will you want to plan with Mother Nature in mind (be sure to check the weather report before settling on a date), but you’ll also want to ensure your party theme matches whatever outdoor decor you already have, especially if the party will take place in a backyard. After all, you can move the pink flamingos from the lawn into the garage to accommodate your winter wonderland theme. But the pool? Not so much.
Whether you opt for a strict theme or wish to take a more eclectic approach, the best outdoor dinner party ideas deliver a “wow factor” that makes the evening extra special for your guests. Stylish party decorations, clever lawn art, and good food from the heart are all details that will help to leave a glowing impression.
Here's how to host an outdoor dinner party in three easy steps.
1. Devise the Ultimate Menu
What's an outdoor dinner party without the food? Catering is one option, but that's easy—get creative and come up with a spread that sings.
We love buffet-style outdoor dining accessories because they're low on fuss and big on impact. Service à la russe—portioning each guest's plate for them—can also make for a lovely dining experience. Follow your fancy, and choose an adventure that suits the food you're serving.
If it's hot out, your beverage menu should also be a priority. Unique mocktails, a giant vat of sangria, or even something as simple as some homemade lemonade can all complement your menu nicely.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is making sure you're prepared. Get everything ready and in the fridge ahead of time, because you'll want to be able to toss it all on the grill or in the oven while you mingle.
2. Create a Sense of Atmosphere
The best way to turn an ordinary backyard into a memorable soiree is to use outdoor dining accessories. This could be something as simple as swapping your couch cushions to create a significantly different vibe or incorporating a variety of lighting options. Sconces, lanterns, China balls, and even candles can add a creative twist to your party’s theme.
To lend your backyard an upscale edge, set a formal table with entertaining essentials like napkin rings, fancy utensils, and decorative centerpieces.
Popular outdoor dinner party ideas include a "dapper" theme, a floral theme with cut flowers from your garden, or even a casual, outdoorsy, camping-style party with a bonfire.
3. Give Them Somewhere Comfy to Sit
The last thing you want is to have people holding plates of delicious food with nowhere to sit. Provide ample seating and use comfortable chairs that complement your party’s vibe.
You can also add personal touches like throw pillows, knit afghans, and outdoor rugs to help dress up a plain outdoor sofa or basic folding chairs.
You’ll also want to provide a few places for your guests to set their drinks down.
How to Host an Outdoor Dinner Party You’ll Love (And Your Guests Won’t Soon Forget)
The most important thing to remember when hosting an outdoor dinner party is that you don’t need to get fancy if you don’t want to. You should make sure your yard is manicured, of course, but if Tiki torches and cloth napkins are more complicated than you have time for, skip them and go for a minimal and modern party theme instead.
The key to a memorable party is to:
Make the most of what your backyard has to offer—Does it have a large space? Use that to your advantage and set up lawn games for your guests to play, like horseshoes or cornhole. Is your yard woodsy? Hang fairy lights and lanterns from the trees.
Opt for large dishes that are easy to plate for a hassle-free event that won’t leave you with a ton of cleanup.
Use handcrafted decorations and party favors and don’t be afraid to be daring with your choices.
Create a fun, quirky vibe with mismatched flatware and table settings.
Use lighting strategically
Throwing an unforgettable dinner party requires detailed planning, an enthusiastic attitude, and the right accessories. Find the best one-of-a-kind furniture pieces for your next outdoor dinner party with RST Brands. We have numerous affordable entertaining essentials perfect for your home or backyard.