20 Creative Ways to Turn Your Backyard into an Amazing Party Space

Break out those string lights and throw pillows!

20 Creative Ways to Turn Your Backyard into an Amazing Party Space

June 21st will shortly mark the official start of summer, otherwise known as backyard barbecue season. And though we can’t wait to break out the grill for swanky summer soirees, our outdoor spaces look like a mess after months without TLC. Thankfully, we still have some time to spruce up before our first guest arrives. And with these tips, your backyard will look like a professional party space in a matter of minutes. So read on, and for some advice on what to serve at your fiesta, check out The 10 Healthiest Finger Foods.

candles outdoor citronella candle backyard

Light a Candle

If you want to set the mood for a soothing soiree, try lighting some pine-scented candles. One Japanese study found that just 15 minutes in the forest surrounded by pine trees can decrease depressed feelings and reduce hostility. While you’re at it, try The 50 Greatest Happiness Hacks for a fiesta sans frowns.

diy tire planters summer backyard plants

DIY Some Pretty Planters

Do you have empty milk cartons, old tires, or even a barely-used coffee pot collecting dust in the house? This summer, you can put these old things to good use as planters in your backyard. The plants will add effortless decor to your outdoor space for when you throw a party or just want to relax and enjoy the balmy breeze.

outdoor tables summer

Set Up Multiple Spaces

Sitting at one giant table makes it hard to actually make conversation among a group. Instead, set up a bunch of small sitting areas in your backyard so people can get to know each other in a more intimate setting. This way, it feels more like you’re at a restaurant and less like you’re at a Greek wedding.

man campfire marshmallows

End the Meal with Marshmallows

What truly marks the beginning of summer is getting your first sunburn (though you should try to avoid those) and roasting your first s’more over a campfire. Instead of serving a traditional dessert at your backyard barbecue, you can easily use some terra cotta pots to make marshmallow roasting stations for your guests. A cooking grate and some charcoal is all you need!

outdoor movie projector backyard

Make It a Movie Night

Most hosts turn to a party playlist as their entertainment of choice for a sunset soiree, so your guests will be pleasantly surprised to find your backyard set up as an impromptu outdoor movie theater. With a price tag of $75 and up, a projector is a bit of an investment, but you’ll get your money’s worth through the warmer months. And for more on that, here’s How to Transform Your Backyard into a Summer Movie Theater. 

labor day cocktails

Concoct Some New Cocktails

Summer is a great time to experiment with new cocktail recipes featuring fresh fruit and effervescent mixers. We’re talking everything from white wine sangria to strawberry-lime mojitos! Need some recipes to get started? Try these 15 Two-Ingredient Cocktails You Can Make in 15 Seconds.

man painting the deck porch paint

Paint the Porch

Before you start using your outdoor area for the summer, give your porch a little bit of TLC. The experts over at HGTV recommend adding a pop of color to your porch and painting a few of your patio chairs to match. Just remember to sand the deck before you paint to guarantee a finish that lasts.

outdoor buffet diy backyard

Old Table = New Buffet

Don’t let an old table go to waste! To make all of your party food accessible and to prevent people from trekking too much mud inside, throw a tablecloth over an old table and make it into a buffet. Not to mention that putting all of the food out at once means you don’t have to make endless trips into the house while your party rages on.

inflatable pool summer

Blow Up a Giant Drink Cooler

Just like you don’t want to be constantly running into the house for more food, you’ll want to avoid getting people drink refills as well if it means leaving your own party. Enter: the inflatable pool. Fill er’ up with ice and refreshments and you’ve got yourself a bar that serves itself.

couple having picnic outside party

Put On a Picnic

Picnics promote a sense of closeness (both literally and figuratively) amongst guests, so why not leave the tables inside at your next party? Plus, dining in the grass means you won’t have to set the table or clean it up later—all you have to do is put some blankets and food out and everyone can serve themselves as they please.

little girl playing outside Moms Should Never Say

Keep the Kids Entertained

While the adults catch up over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, make sure you have fun games and outdoor activities on hand to keep the kids busy. You can even use an old towel, some tape, and colored paper plates to make a giant DIY tic-tac-toe board.

mosquito bite bug spray

Put Mosquitoes on the “Do Not Invite” List

Don’t think that your party is safe under cover of darkness. Mosquitoes are lurking in the shadows in the AM and PM alike, and your feast is their feast. To keep your party pest-free, avoid serving beer (which attracts mosquitoes) and keep some fans running to prevent the bugs from landing on you. For more mosquito hacks, check out these 15 Genius Ways to Outsmart Mosquitoes This Summer.

palm tree party lights christmas lights outdoors

Use Trees to Light the Way

If your party runs well into the night—which, with these surefire tips, it will—then you’re going to want to be prepared with the proper lighting. One aesthetic and affordable way to light up your outdoor area is with string lights. Whether you wrap them around the trunks of trees or let them hang between the poles of your porch like a banner, these lights will keep your party going and make for some great party photos.

outdoor rug outside backyard patio

Add an Area Rug

“Use your favorite pillows, throws, and lamps from indoors to dress up your outdoor space for the evening,” Salt & Sundry owner Amanda McClements told Washingtonian. Using an area rug for your party will make guests feel welcome and effortlessly ease the transition from indoor to outdoor.

pillows outdoor seating

Out of Chairs? Use Pillows

The number of chairs we have on hand doesn’t always match up with how many guests we’ve invited to our BBQ. In a pinch, large throw pillows are a comfortable substitution for chairs—if you want, you can even devote the pillow seating exclusively to the kids’ table.

father son camping tent

Make It a Sleepover

You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a night of camping with friends. If you have enough outdoor space, pitch a few tents outside and turn your dinner party into an overnight outing. You can even make eggs and sausage on the grill in the AM so you never have to step foot indoors!

beach table setting starfish party

Choose a Theme

Sticking to a theme will make it easier to plan every aspect of your party, including the menu, decorations, and party games (if you feel so inclined to have any). For a summer get-together, we recommended beach barbecue and tropical fiesta.

60s slang no one uses

Get Wet and Wild

No pool? No problem! A pool isn’t the only fun with water you can have at a party. If you’re hosting an afternoon event, why not break out the Slip N Slide or even just the hose? Guests will relish in the relief from the heat—and have fun doing so.

hobbies for your 40s

Break Out the Guitar

Don’t be afraid to be the center of attention at your party. If you happen to be a maestro, entertain your guests with a live melody—and yes, if someone asks you to play “American Pie,” you must oblige. But just this once.

photobooth Best Date Ideas

Set Up a Photo Booth

Your guests are going to have such an incredible time at your party that they’re going to want something to remember it by. And what better way to hold onto a great night than with photos? All you need is an old Polaroid camera and some fun props like moustaches and mini sombreros to set up a photo booth in your backyard. Who knows, you may end up taking a photo like the one that changed Anderson Cooper’s life.

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