6 Things You Should Always Have When Hosting Guests in Your Backyard
Make sure you have these ready to go ahead of your next outdoor soirée.
Now that the weather is warming up, you may be getting ready to host guests in your backyard, enjoying each other's company while soaking up some vitamin D. Depending on the occasion, you may have different plans or arrangements, but in general, any good host knows that you need to be prepared when entertaining. So, before you send out the group text, Evite, or Facebook invite for your gathering, you'll want to make sure you have a few staples on hand. Read on for the six items etiquette experts say you must have when hosting guests in your backyard.
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Warmer weather is a welcome change after the winter months, but during the spring and summer, we also have to contend with more pests. It's an easy item to forget, but you should always have bug spray on hand.
"We all know it's the season, and no one wants to go home with a handful of bites," Chantelle Hartman Malarkey, interior designer and hosting aesthetic expert, tells Best Life.
"Citronella candles are also helpful—both to add ambiance and keep bugs away," adds Kristi Spencer, etiquette expert and founder at The Polite Company.
"You don't want your guests to feel like they are the main course at your barbecue," Spencer jokes. In fact, your food is also something that can draw bugs in, so grabbing some mesh covers for food platters is also in your best interest, according to Malarkey.
If you're hosting during the daytime, you absolutely need to have seating options in the shade.
"Make sure you [have] shaded spots for guests to spend some time," Silvia Hermanny, community taste advocator and food and lifestyle digital creator, tells Best Life. "This can be an undercover patio or an umbrella! [It's] very important for guests to be shaded from the sun in order for them to last in the heat for a few hours."
Blythe Yost, co-founder and chief landscape architect of Tilly, suggests looking into a pergola—which can be pricey—but is well worth the investment. "[Pergolas] can be visually beautiful and a feature that will [make a] great statement in your yard."
Bonus points if you supply some misters or fans that guests can use to cool themselves down, per Hermanny's suggestion.
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When the sun sets, you'll also need some lighting options in your backyard, experts say.
"Exterior lighting creates a great ambiance and is really important for safety," Yost says. "We love string lights for a low-cost option."
String lights are also dim enough to keep those bugs at bay, notes Virginia Frischkorn, event planner and founder and CEO of Partytrick.
Bryan Clayton, CEO and co-founder of GreenPal, recommends lanterns and solar-powered lights as alternate options, or lights with motion sensors "to add some security and safety."
Regardless of whether you're entertaining friends over 21 or families with youngsters running around, you'll want to have cold beverages on hand.
To do so, Malarkey recommends setting up different coolers and clearly labeling them. One can be for water, another for kids' drinks, and another for alcoholic beverages. Not only will this avoid confusion, but it'll also keep drinks cool and refreshing.
"You never want to serve guests warm beverages, and [this] also keeps everything outdoors for guests to easily grab themselves without having to go in and out of your home," Frischkorn says.
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Decorating an outdoor space can be overwhelming, especially if you have a larger yard. But etiquette experts say a few thoughtful additions go a long way—and make your guests feel more at home.
"Focusing on the small details such as beautiful, glass-free glassware, plates, and table napkins is an easy way to elevate your event," Frischkorn says.
"Chic décor" is on Malarkey's list of must-have items as well. She recommends something as simple as a floral bouquet to "spruce up the space."
It seems like a no-brainer that you need seats for your guests, but the key here is variety.
"You need to have enough comfortable and sturdy chairs, benches, or sofas for your guests to sit on. You can also use cushions, pillows, or blankets to add some coziness and color," Clayton says. "Make sure you arrange your seating in a way that encourages conversation and interaction among your guests."
Yost says that the different options "help with the flow of a party," making it easier for you to entertain more people. "Having a table, couch, lounge area, and maybe some Adirondack chairs or fun beach-type chairs encourage people to use different areas and make themselves comfortable," she explains.
If you don't have a ton of seating in your backyard, definitely give your guests a heads-up! "They won't mind bringing their own lawn chairs if it means they will have a guaranteed spot to sit," Spencer says.