16 Ideas for an Elegant Outdoor Party
Creative Party Seating
When you're planning an outdoor summer party, don't stress the seating chart. If you're expecting a large crowd and don't have enough outdoor patio furniture, bring the outside in! If the weather is nice, there's no reason a table and chairs from inside can't come outside for the night.
DIY Lemonade Stand
Don't spend the whole party trying to top off guests' drinks. Instead, put together a grown-up lemonade stand and have guests help themselves. Use one of our creative ideas to set up an area that holds a large pitcher of lemonade (like this delicious watermelon and strawberry lemonade!), glasses, and garnishes. Don't forget a bucket of ice!
Create a Simple Buffet
Whether you make everything from scratch or pick up chips and dip from the store, a pretty buffet arrangement can make any party spread look good. Start by making our DIY dyed tablecloth. Then, think variety: multiple shapes, colors, and heights of dishes.
DIY Coffee Bar
Set up an outdoor coffee bar on the patio so guests can serve themselves a hot cup of joe. Using a brewer like the Keurig K-Duo Essentials Coffee Maker allows you to make a whole carafe of regular on one side, while guests who prefer less caffeine can brew individual K-Cup pods of their favorite decaf coffee. Make it extra-special with a homemade batch of Salted Caramel Mocha Spoons for stirring.
A casual summer gathering can still be elegant with a few finishing touches. If you don't have an extra outdoor surface to use as a food table, just add small platters to the dinner table and dress it up with a pretty tablecloth and fresh blooms. Set appetizers, main dishes, and easy party desserts directly on the table and have guests pass family-style.
Personalized Place Settings
Adding a personalized place card instantly upgrades any outdoor table setting. We added a hand-written name to store-bought paper tags to make each guest feel special. If your party requires a seating chart, this will also help you lay out the place settings before guests arrive.
Serve a Signature Drink
Serve a Charcuterie Board
A classy dinner party doesn’t require serving a three-course meal. A simple charcuterie board in the summer can be just as elegant (and way less work!). Arrange fruits, veggies, crackers, and nuts around bowls of dips and spreads on a large board and let guests graze throughout the evening.
Serve Small Bites
Keep your guests full well into the evening with a medley of sweet and savory tartlets. Small bites are perfect for warmer weather, as you can take out only what you need, and replenish from the fridge if necessary. Stock up on cute trays for easy transportation from the kitchen to yard.
Set the Table
Rather than decorating the entire backyard, focus on one area to really dress up. Use a bold tablecloth (we love how this one perfectly matches the striped umbrella!) and bright accessories to create a party place setting that really pops. Bright pink napkins and flowers around the table give this outdoor seating area a welcoming summer look.
Decorate with Fresh Blooms
In-season flowers are one of the easiest ways to decorate for an outdoor gathering—especially if you can source the flowers directly from your yard! Peonies, roses, and calla lilies are all summer flowers that make a big statement. If you don't have them in your yard, head to your local farmers market to pick up a bouquet or two.
Use Edible Flowers
Ditch Paper Plates
An easy way to class up your gathering is to break out the fancy dishes—no paper plates or plastic trays here! Serving finger food eliminates the need for each guest to have their own plates, so you can use pretty serving platters without having a mountain of dishes to do after the party.
Grown-Up Party Favors
Don't let guests leave the party empty handed! Send them home with a grown-up party favor like individually packaged homemade granola bars. This party favor is easy to put together; make a big batch of bars and individually wrap each one. Tie with string and add a sweet tag and place them in a large bowl so guests can easily grab one on the way out.
Set Up Stations
No matter your party activity, make sure you have extra supplies for each guest. For berry picking, we gathered baskets, sun hats, and muck-ready boots for guests to borrow.
Other Ideas: Set out sunscreen, cup koozies, or lawn games like bocce or croquet. Extra sunglasses for forgetful guests would certainly be appreciated.
Rent a Tent
Don't let wiley summer weather ruin your outdoor affair. Rent a tent for the day to add shade and sophistication, and use a few of our colorful outdoor party decor ideas to dress up the area.