Take it Outside: How to Throw a Backyard Bash

by Cezanne Colvin

Welcome to summer party season, where the aroma of the grill and crackle of the bonfire are life’s sweetest pleasures. Everyone loves getting that shiny invitation in the mail – or, for the modern partier, mass Facebook invitation – that promises free food and at least one story that will be exaggerated out of proportion by the time the holidays roll around. However, few of us are first to volunteer to host the soiree. But throwing an outdoor bash doesn’t have to be a stress test – follow these tips to see to it that you and your guests have a blast.



  • If you’re going to be preparing all of the food for the party, stick to just a few pre-tested bulk recipes with options for your guests’ dietary needs if necessary (e.g., gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan) that you can make in advance so you don’t get stuck in the kitchen all night dicing seven different garnishes or preparing an unfamiliar temperamental dessert.
  • If you have an ambitious main course planned, consider outsourcing party snacks by asking guests to bring an appetizer, dip or dessert
    to share.
  • If you’re grilling a large quantity of meats at different temperatures, set up clearly marked meat plates for different temperatures in advance (i.e., rare, medium, etc.) for food as it finishes so guests can help themselves to their preference without you having to keep track of orders or constantly yell out food auctions.
  • For many people, it’s not an outdoor bash without a pig roast. Kessler Farm in Nazareth offers meat that is raised and processed according to organic standards without antibiotics, steroids, or hormones. In addition to their grass-fed steaks and burgers, they offer slow-roasted pigs for pick-up, delivery, or on one of their mobile roasters with a rotating spit right in your backyard.



  • It’s always fun to add an interactive element to a party. While some might be content with a glass of wine or beer, consider an open bar with a few cocktail recipes and directions laid out as open invitations for your guests to channel their inner mixologist.
  • If you’re looking for a decorative way to keep your bottles and cans cold, try freezing water balloons before the party begins and then nestle your libations around them for colorful cooler.
  • Arrange a napkin, silverware and straw in a mason jar with a name tag wrapped around it for an efficient solution to housing place settings and helping guests identify their drinks. Not sure on the guest list? Just leave the name tags blank and a few pens or markers out.



  • If you’re short on seating or want to have a relaxed, casual vibe, spread blankets or rugs and throw pillows around the yard to create picnic spots for guests to sit, chat or eat.
  • If you’re looking for a more formal or larger space to party outside or you’re worried about the weather, consider renting a tent.
  • Smith Brothers Tent Rentals in Allentown offers tents that range from 10 ft. to 100 ft. wide and have the option of being set up with sidewalls. Smith Brothers also offers lighting and climate control solutions for your outdoor tent-covered party, as well as portable stages, dance floors, and tables and chairs.
  • Special Events Tent & Party Rentals in Bangor also offers a wide variety of marquees, tents and structures to fit your needs. They also have chairs, tables, cooking tools and accessories, china and utensils, lighting, staging, flooring, and portable restrooms.
  • A few games and a bit of healthy competition can help different groups mingle and give both participants and spectators some entertainment. Think football, badminton, croquet, volleyball, or even a beer pong table.
  • If you or your guests have children, consider a few kid-friendly entertainment options to ensure the adults are able to fully enjoy the party. Depending on budget constraints, anything from sidewalk chalk to beach balls to a sprinkler and Slip’N’ Slide to a bounce house will make sure everyone in attendance has fun.
  • If you own or have access to a projector, think about winding down the evening with a movie projected from your laptop against the garage or side of the house.


  • You’re throwing your party to have fun, not take out a small loan redecorating your backyard, but a few DIY and inventive touches can help transform your space for the night. A few old glass bottles and jars can be a rustic way to hold flowers and candles. If you’re up for a little crafting, simple polka dots or geometric touches with a glass paint pen can kick your decor up a notch.
  • If you’re looking for a more refined approach, fully potted small flowers or herbs can not only make great centerpieces, but double as party favors.
  • Leftover (edible) flowers, herbs, fruits or cucumbers from decorating and cooking can be frozen with water in ice trays to add flair to iced drinks.
  • If you’re looking for inexpensive table runners, accents or placemats that can be customized to fit any size or theme, consider rummaging through a craft store or even using wrapping paper.
  • Paper lanterns and string lights add a soft ambiance once the sun sets. If you’re in a pinch, puncture paper muffin cups and slip the lightbulbs of a strand of white Christmas lights through them for a daytime pop of color and evening blooming glow.
  • If you have fully set tables with seating arrangements, writing guests’ names on flat stones are great for an earthy, backyard shindig and double as weights to keep tablecloths and napkins from flying away.



  • To keep things clutter-free and environmentally friendly, have a few clearly marked garbage and recycling bins stationed throughout the yard so your small indoor garbage cans and food tables don’t overflow as the party progresses.
  • Consider placing fans near primary socialization areas and near food to keep bugs away and your guests cool.
  • Paper muffin cups with straw holes can rest upside down to keep unwanted bugs out of drinks.
  • Have sunscreen and bug spray handy just in case.



As seen in the Summer/Fall 2015 Issue

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