Host an Easy and Fun Outdoor Party on the Deck This Summer

Outdoor party ideas
Photo: Reed Davis

For a fabulous and easy party location, look no further than your deck or patio. A simple party menu, a single house cocktail, and laid-back decor create a mellow, fuss-free atmosphere that's perfect for enjoying an evening with friends.

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How to Host an Outdoor Party

Outdoor party ideas
Reed Davis

You don't need much besides a warm, breezy evening to make this party a success. Set out some comfy seating and a buffet of our easy summer dishes, and you're set for a night of relaxing fun.

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Best Party Tip: Takeout is OK!

Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwiches
Jacob Fox

When we said easy, we meant it! The first step to this simple party is picking up the takeout. Browse your deli's sandwich choices, and pick up some basic snacks like chips and salsa.

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Choose a House Cocktail

Moscow mule recipe copper limes
Reed Davis

Another way to make your party easy? Choose one cocktail to make and stick to it. We love the refreshing taste of Moscow Mules, and their trademark copper cups instantly upgrade your party spread. The best part is, you only need four ingredients to whip up these citrus quenchers: mix two parts ginger beer with one part vodka in a copper cup. Add some lime juice and a lime wedge, and you're ready to start sippin'.

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Prep for the Party Ahead of Time

vodka Moscow mules
Reed Davis

Prep the first round of cocktails just before guests arrive. That way, you won't miss a thing, and the party can get started immediately. If you're keeping it simple by serving cold beer or chilled wine, place ice and drinks into a metal party tub ($17, World Market) a few minutes before the gathering begins.

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Bring It Outside

Outdoor party food prep
Reed Davis

Prep your party food in your kitchen and bring it outside. Stock an oversize bamboo tray with everything you need to set out during the party. It minimizes trips inside and serves as a pretty way to display silverware and plates.

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Set the Table

colorful outdoor dining place settings blue dishes
Paul Costello

If you're keeping it casual with the food, you can easily dress up your outdoor table with a bright (but simple!) table setting. Keep serving and cleanup simple with a stack of summery melamine plates, paper napkins, and disposable flatware. Add a few fresh summer blooms to the spread and you'll be ready to eat as soon as guests arrive.

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Set Aside the Party Sandwiches

Party Sandwiches
Reed Davis

Fill another basket with unwrapped sandwich halves so guests can easily grab and try different flavor combos. Be sure to include a variety of options, including vegetarian and gluten-free sandwiches. Check with guests before you place the take-out order to be sure there's something for everyone.

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Make a Quick Party Snack

crudite platter with almonds fruits and vegatables
Jason Donnelly

Pair your main take-out dish with a quick homemade appetizer. You don't have to put together anything fancy: Add a selection of your favorite cheese, crackers, fruits, and veggies to a wood serving tray for the easiest DIY charcuterie board ever. Be sure to keep the board in the fridge until your guests are ready to eat.

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DIY Drink Station

Outdoor wine station
David Tsay

Let the adults help themselves to warm weather drinks like iced tea and sangria. Keep them in large beverage vessels for easy serving. Add fun mix-ins like fresh fruit, herbs, citrus, and flavored syrups. If you're serving a pitcher cocktail, be sure to serve a non-alcoholic option as well.

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Create a Kids' Punch Station

Punch recipe party ideas
Reed Davis

A colorful punch station lets kids in on the party fun. Set up a small table on the deck with a fruity punch, colorful straws, and sturdy plastic cups ($3, Target).

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Embrace Your Space

Outdoor party conversation dog outside
Edmund Barr

No need to lug a dining table outside! Gather around your patio coffee table for a casual outdoor party. Simply dress it up with fresh flowers (here's how to arrange a bouquet from grocery store flowers) and use it as the main buffet for the party. This arrangement encourages guests to gather.

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Don't Stress on Seating

outside talking chat
Reed Davis

Arrange your outdoor space with multiple seating areas so guests can mingle easily. Short on seating? Grab chairs and colorful cushions from inside to create a fun mix-and-match look. Or, set up a blanket and a circle of oversized outdoor pillows in the grass.

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Set the Scene with String Lights

outside lights table backyard chairs
Werner Straube

Stringing lights gives your outdoor party space instant ambiance. Stick to black string lights with glass globes ($12, Target) for a timeless look, or dress up your own strand! As the sky gets darker, turn them on for a subtle glow.

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Decorate with Paper Lanterns

tree lanterns outside
Reed Davis

Simple white paper lanterns ($7, Party City) are an inexpensive outdoor party decoration you can reuse all season. Hang them from a tall tree in your yard for a dramatic, ethereal backdrop. Pick up a set to have on hand so you can quickly hang them up before an impromptu gathering. Just be sure to take them down when the party is over (or if it starts to rain) so you can reuse them.

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