June doesn’t only mark the official kickoff to summer; it also represents Great Outdoors Month. From sunshiny days to star-filled night skies, the outdoors beckon for a bold blend of adventures and memory-making. The heavenly aroma of charcoal-grilled or slow-smoked meats fills the air, instantly sending us all back to the carefree days of our childhood. If you’re hoping to create some memories of your own to share with friends and family members, what better way to do so than with a good, old-fashioned outdoor gathering – particularly during the summer months? Whether hosting a backyard birthday party, neighborhood get-together, family reunion, engagement celebration, retirement party, or “just because” gathering, the outdoor enthusiasts at Woody’s Bar-B-Q have compiled our list of top 10 hosting hacks for fabulous al fresco festivities…
- Don’t Be Afraid to Set a Theme: Themes are fun. They set expectations AND a tone for your guests before they even walk through your garden gate. Once you have a theme, it makes it easier for everything else to fall into place – from décor and music to food and games. Some popular themes for outdoor gatherings include Hawaiian luau, beach party, camping, carnival, garden tea party, movie premiere, baby shower, Mexican fiesta, fairy fest, Southern picnic, cowboy cookout – the list goes on and on.
- Go Old School and Send Invites: To communicate your theme, as well as the date and time of your festivities, you can’t beat a traditional invitation. You can design, print and mail them, or create something cute online and email them to your guest list. A digital invite makes it easier for your guests to RSVP.
- Don’t Just Set the Table – Set the Space: If you aim to be declared the host or hostess with the mostest, take every advantage to communicate your theme through décor. And don’t merely limit it to your place settings, but throughout the space where you plan to entertain. For instance, if you’re hosting a beach party-themed event, set out baby pools filled with ice and beverages. Create a corner where guests can take themed selfies with sunglasses, big beach hats, hula hoops, and a surfboard. Fill one baby pool with sand and beach buckets for the kids to play in. Finally, decorate your table with a turquoise blue tablecloth, burlap runner, sand-filled votive jars, and shells to suggest the sand and sea. Hang a king-sized white sheet over a clothesline as a makeshift screen, set beach towels about on the grass as movie seats, and project a classic beach movie as entertainment. The only limit to the possibilities is your imagination!
- Tell Insects to BUZZ OFF: Nothing can ruin an outdoor party like ants, bees, wasps, and mosquitoes. So, employ tiki torches filled with citronella oils, grant easy access to kid-safe bug sprays to your guests, and – for larger gatherings – consider calling a professional company to spray your outdoor space ahead of your event with an eco-friendly repellent that will drive insects – and not your guests – away.
- It’s Game ON for Your Guests: While your guests will likely socialize throughout the event, it’s always a great idea to provide distractions and diversions throughout the event. Cornhole is a great fit for a tailgate party, while the limbo will be popular at a beach party. A pinata is a fun game during a fiesta, while a potato sack race is very fitting for a camp-themed get-together.
- Set a Mood Through Lighting: If it’s a daytime event, the sun should provide plenty of mood-setting light for your guests. For evening gatherings, you might want to string lights between the trees or from the roof of your pergola to add a touch of whimsy to the festivities. If you plan to host multiple events in your backyard for years to come, placing an outdoor-safe chandelier above your outdoor dining table and some well-placed uplighting around the trees might be a good investment.
- Strike a Chord with Great Music: Lean into your theme to create a playlist to enhance your event, and invest in a well-reviewed Bluetooth speaker to crank it up. Depending on the size and scope of your event, you might even want to hire a live local band and set out a dancefloor, encouraging your guests to show off their best moves. Of course, karaoke is another fun addition to any gathering!
- Enhance the Flavor of Your Festivities with a Crowd-Pleasing Menu: This is another area where your theme can serve as an excellent motivator behind your menu. For example, a fiesta may call for a build-your-own taco bar, fancy sandwiches, and cakes are a must for a garden tea party, seafood is a fun addition to a beach party, and BBQ is the move for a cowboy cookout or casual Southern-themed event. Ask your guests to share any allergies when they send their RSVPs so you have something on hand for everyone. If children are involved, you may want a stockpile of kid-friendly foods, like PB&J sandwiches, chicken tenders, pizza, and mac ‘n cheese.
- Watch the Weather: While no one wants it to “rain on their parade,” there’s always a chance that a rain cloud may move through at some point during your gathering. Have a solid Plan B in place and watch the forecast so you can move the festivities, food, and décor indoors or under cover if need be. A basement, garage, or covered patio is always great in a pinch if you have more guests than you have the interior square footage to accommodate them.
- Gather ‘Round the Fire: Regardless of the theme, the outdoor firepit’s skyrocketing popularity shows that people love to gaze into the fire’s glow. It’s a great place to wind down at the end of the event with a cocktail and share stories or have a make-your-own dessert of roasted marshmallows for s’mores. This would be an especially nice touch if you hosted a camp-themed party.
For events of every shape, size, and theme, we invite you to Make It Easy, Make It Memorable with Woody’s Bar-B-Q! We offer full-service catering for larger events, or BBQ by the pound, ribs by the rack, sides and puddings by the quart or gallon, whole pies, and sweet tea by the gallon. By handing over the reins to our pitmasters, you’ll have more time to spend with your guests and less time to stress! To find the Woody’s Bar-B-Q near you and view our menu, visit www.Woodys.com! We wish you a Happy and Safe Summer!