By Maggie Mccauley | Photographs by Michael Fornataro | Art direction by Alyssa Otto + Special thanks to Jimmy Lohr of greenSinner

Did someone say party?

The temperatures are rising, the sun is staying out longer, and we can hear cocktails calling our names. It’s the perfect formula for hosting an outdoor soirée. Follow our guide to transform your backyard into the ultimate party place and be the ultimate host or hostess who can pull everything off seamlessly!

1) It’s important to decide how much space you would like to utilize in your backyard. Think cozy, not crowded, and open, not widespread. Shayla Hawkins of Shayla Hawkins Events recommends deciding on a color palette or theme, as well. “ Deciding on the right color for your outdoor space is really based on your style and home style,” says Hawkins. This could be bright colors or neutrals with a pop of color. “Once you establish a color scheme, mix and match textures, prints, and patterns so that it’s not matchy-matchy but still coordinates,” says Hawkins.

2) Keep the drinks flowing! “For an outdoor event in the summer, make sure you have plenty of drinks and ice. Always have more than you need,” says Sheila Weiner, president and founder of The Event Group. You’ll want guests to stay hydrated as the afternoon or evening goes on, so offer a wide selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Fun barware makes for fun drinks, too!

3) Take the color theme to the bar, too! We love this rustic bar, fashioned out of barrels and a door paired with modern barware. “I ask clients to bring a few inspiration photos for their event and then walk around the warehouse and look at the inventory to see what pieces are similar or what we can make work for their overall look and vibe,” says Trish Derry of Vintage Alley Rentals. Picking pieces for a chic bar is just as fun as serving drinks from it! Another tip from Hawkins is to always greet guests with a warm smile and cool cocktail upon arrival!

Clockwise: Mason Jar Drink Dispenser, Vintage Alley Rentals. Wooden Slabs, Splurge. Japanese Stainless Shaker, Von Walter & Funk. Seamless Paddle Mixer, Von Walter & Funk. Chateau Silver Shaker, Von Walter & Funk. Blue Drinking Glasses, Von Walter & Funk. Silver/White Tray, Splurge. Marble Coasters, Von Walter & Funk. Bar made from Wooden Barrels and Door, Vintage Alley Rentals. Stools, Vintage Alley Rentals.

4) Don’t forget to decorate your dining area! Continue mixing patterns and textures that fit your color scheme with the place settings, as well. Mix and match glasses and plates for a unique contrast. Flowers also brighten up and add light fragrance to the table. “Great scented candles in the home are a nice touch in the guest bathroom,” says Weiner, bringing the outdoors inside.

From the back: Fence with Greenery, Splurge. Philia Chair in Gunmetal, All Occasions Party Rental. Farm Table, All Occasions Party Rental. White Napkins, Lendable Linens. Platinum Spirale Dinner Dish and Bread and Butter Dish, All Occasions Party Rental. Cobble Grey Matte Salad Plate, All Occasions Party Rental. Rattan Silverware, All Occasions Party Rental. Assorted Mini Candles, Splurge. New Clear Tumbler Glassware, All Occasions Party Rental. Mini Copper Straws, Von Walter & Funk. Mixed Blue Glassware, Vintage Alley Rentals. Lace Table Runner, Lendable Linens. Large Wooden Candle, Splurge.

5) Display bottled options beautifully on this chic bar cart and stand, accented with hanging greenery that adds a focal point to the place.

6) “Prepare for chilly nights by providing a basket of chic blankets or shawls that guests can take home as a party favor,” says Weiner.

Clockwise: Hanging Wire Frame with added Greenery from Greensinner, Vintage Alley Rentals. Three-tiered Serving Platter, Vintage Alley Rentals. Bar Cart, Vintage Alley Rentals. Green Ice Bucket, Von Walter & Funk. Chalkboard Frame, Vintage Alley Rental. Lantern, Splurge.

7) “As the sun goes down you don’t want the party to be disrupted with lack of light,” says Hawkins. Lanterns, string lights, and tiki torches are all great options!

Clockwise: Wicker Basket, Splurge. Blue Bench, Splurge. Blue Pillows, Von Walter & Funk. Pittsburgh Pillow, Splurge. Printed Rug, Vintage Alley Rentals. Eat & Drink Lazy Susan, Splurge. Cushion Seats, Vintage Alley Rentals.

Hosting Tips

  • Have great energy from beginning to end.
  • Provide the ultimate soundtrack for the night with a fun DJ or great playlist.
  • Control bugs by lighting citronella candles, planting lavender, or providing organic bug spray.
  • Have heel protectors handy for guests who don’t want to ruin their shoes in the grass.
  • Create shaded areas for guests wanting to escape the sun.
  • Craft food and drink menus that will appeal to all tastes.
  • Have phone chargers handy for guests needing to power up.
  • Consider the parking situation — you can even offer to valet or give Uber codes to your guests.
  • Don’t forget to relax and enjoy the evening!

All Prices Upon Request
All Occasions Party Rental, 412.471.2100.
The Event Group, 412.441.9811.
Lendable Linens, 724.325.5555.
Shayla Hawkins Events, 412.865.9517.
Splurge, 412.252.2242.
Vintage Alley Rentals, 412.735.9765.
Von Walter & Funk, 412.784.0800.

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