In many areas of the country, it’s still a little premature to do any serious entertaining outdoors — but it’s never too early to start planning all the great parties you’ll want to throw this summer!
The first few times you invite friends and family over and throw some burgers on the grill, it will be great just to enjoy each other’s company, and maybe play some cornhole or ladderball. But pretty soon, the same-ol’ same-ol’ will set in, and you might want to spice up your outdoor get together.
Why not make a list of outdoor party ideas now, so that you’re not scrambling to plan when you’d rather be working on your tan? Let’s get started!
Go Glam With a Gatsby Party
It is the Roaring Twenties 2.0, after all! Tell your friends to leave their jeans and flip-flops at home, and come dressed in their vintage best for a Great Gatsby-themed party. You will want to string fairy lights everywhere you can and serve up plenty of champagne.
Put together a platter of decadent, elegant East Egg inspired hors d’ouevres like deviled eggs, oysters Rockefeller, and smoked-salmon toasts. Ragtime and jazz tunes will help set the mood. Play a game or two of croquet, and don’t forget to try your hand — or your feet, rather — at dancing the Charleston.
A Little Friendly Competition Never Hurt Anyone
Do your friends consider themselves foodies? If so, why not host a cooking competition in your backyard? They’ll have a ball serving up their specialties and fighting for bragging rights, while you get to sample the fruits of their labors!
There are a couple of ways to go about this. How about a Burger Cook-Off to see who can produce the juiciest, tastiest, or even most original hamburger? You could even pick a popular burger brand, like Culver’s, and try to recreate burgers from Culver’s menu. Another fun competition is to give all contestants a basket of somewhat unusual ingredients, a la Chopped, and challenge them to get creative.
Get Your Seafood On with a Crawfish Boil or Clam Bake
It is perfectly OK to throw a party that invokes the flavors and fun of a traditional activity, like a clam bake or a crawfish boil, even if it is not 100% authentic.
Order a mess of seafood and serve it up with plenty of newspapers on your tables and napkins close at hand. Salt potatoes, corn on the cob, and spicy sausages help to keep seafood costs down and round out the meal. Do some research in advance, so you can learn more about how to grill seafood or adapt the standard cooking methods to an inland atmosphere.
Backyard Game Night
Almost everyone with an outdoor living space has at least a game or two floating around — an old bocce set or maybe a long-neglected tetherball pole. Dust ’em off, ask your guests to bring their own games, and put the focus on play for the evening.
Depending on the size of your yard (and the athletic ability of your squad!), you could play badminton or volleyball, horseshoes, or even old-school playground games like tag or kickball. For your more cerebral friends, set out the Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit boards, too. People who don’t want to engage in athletic gameplay could also start a card game.
Amp up the ante by providing a few prizes. You don’t have to go all out; a nice bottle of wine or a Starbucks gift card will do just fine!
Host a Backyard Tailgating Party
A what? Yes, you read that right. Backyard tailgating parties are all the rage! Why go to the trouble to pack up all those ingredients, bottles, cups, plates, cutlery, coolers, and other necessary supplies only to stand around in a parking lot? Transplant the whole kit and caboodle to the backyard and have just as much fun — and a lot more comfort.
At-home tailgating is especially fun if you have a decent outdoor entertainment setup. That means you can keep the party going even after kick-off. Spouses or kids who don’t enjoy watching sports can still eat, drink, and be merry.
A Water Park Party to Cool Everything Down
In the dog days of summer, when it seems like even breathing makes you break a sweat, you’ll have to do something to cool off. Don’t have a pool? That’s OK. Replicate a water park in your yard for the kids — and, let’s be honest, for the adults too.
You can set up some kiddie pools or smaller inflatables, or rig up a DIY slip-n-slide. Arm all comers with giant super soaker-style squirt guns.
Of course, a huge bucket holding water balloons is also de rigueur. Kids can use those to play a high-stakes game of catch — or just chase each other around with them.
Refreshments for this fete should include watermelon, lemonade, popsicles, ice cream, and maybe some simple sandwiches for more sustenance. Your pint-sized guests are going to want food they can eat quickly, so they can get back to playing ASAP!
Make Your Own Music Festival
If your BFFs are young and carefree, without kids to worry about, invite them over for a whole weekend and make your own music festival. They can pitch tents in the yard in order to live it up without worrying about how to get home. Any amateur musicians in your crowd can provide the entertainment, or use your outdoor TV set up to stream a famous concert by your favorite artist.
It’ll seem just like a big festival — only without the port-a-potties or insanely expensive food truck fare!
What Are Your Favorite Outdoor Party Ideas?
Make this summer the most fun ever. All it takes is a little creativity and planning to throw an unforgettable backyard bash!
Has our list of outdoor party ideas sparked your creativity? What was the best backyard party you ever attended? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop a comment below!