It’s spring, which means it’s time to start thinking about outdoor, backyard entertaining. What refreshments should you serve? How will you decorate your space? What activities will you have? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Be sure, above all, to be safe; however, you also want to think about your desired effect. Ambience is an important factor to consider for your guests. What’s the setting you want to create? A rustic one, with a fire pit, logs for seating, and s’mores? Perhaps you’ll want your guests to feel as if they’ve stumbled across a secret fairy garden in the middle of the woods. You might instead prefer to create a minimalist, streamlined world with clean edges and no frills. If you’re hosting an adults-only party, the setting will likely be more sophisticated than if children will be present.
Much of what you will decide to do will depend upon the nature of your event. It doesn’t have to be an either/or type of decision. I recommend overhead lighting such as lanterns hung from trees or strings of lights wrapped around branches or gazebo beams. I’ve compiled some images for you here and below, for inspiration.
Just don’t just dig out your Christmas lights and drape them over things. Get creative, instead. Attach silk flowers to turn each light into a glowing blossom. You can also use tea lights and small custard bowls filled with water to provide floating candles for your table. That extra bit of fire protection always sets me at ease when flames and children are involved.
If the weather’s warm enough, you may want to serve chilled cocktail-like refreshments, such as Oranges in Prosecco or spiked punch with guava or mango juice and optional companion mixers of your guests’ choice.
It’s possible to feel out the evening’s menu by offering people on the guest list options to choose between, beforehand, if you’re throwing a dinner party. If it’s tapas style, it may be easier to be more impromptu about your gathering. It could be fun to go with a theme and have different dishes based around each fruit or vegetable: for example, lemon dishes like lemon bars, lemon-flavored beverages like lemonade, or, just look here for more inspiration. (Yes, I thought of that idea myself, but then I saw that others have apparently thought of it too!)
It’s a nice touch, if you have time, to list ingredients by each dish in order to be more considerate toward those with food allergies and dietary restrictions. These days, it’s almost guaranteed that someone will be sensitive to gluten or dairy. Have you heard of squash noodles?
Try making something Italian sans grains for a healthy twist on pasta-based dishes. Ever try serving dinner on a camping trip? If you decide to go the casual campfire route, there’s always the tinfoil “foil pack” method!
Fun & Games
There are plenty of board and card games out there. However, spring is a fun excuse to do something a bit more movement-based—croquet, anyone? I’m also a big fan of bocce, lawn bowling, or a game of horseshoes.
If your crowd is a bit more into talking than playing games, how about engaging in good old-fashioned conversation—but with a twist? You could have guests pull slips of paper out of a hat or cup with suggestions of memories to reminisce about or topics to improvise: most embarrassing childhood story; ghost stories; how I met my significant other; memorable vacation moments; impromptu ballads, rhyming couplets, or haikus; and so on. You get the idea. Or play a game of Exquisite Corpse. It’s not nearly as morbid as it sounds, I promise!
There is no shortage of ideas out there for entertaining in the garden. All you need is a little inspiration and a spring evening, and you’ll create an evening of magic and loveliness that your friends will love!
Bio: Mackenzie Kupfer enjoys planting locally-saved seeds in her backyard garden in Boise, Idaho.
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Photographs courtesy of InstantHedge
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