After being indoors for so many months, patios and backyards really come alive on balmy summer days and nights.
Who doesn’t appreciate a warm breeze while enjoying a cool drink? The next time you celebrate, consider making reservations at one of these patios, or—if you’re feeling up to the task—throw a memorable soiree right in your own backyard.
IN YOUR BACKYARD
Host an outdoor party that will leave a lasting impression on guests by following our experts’ tips:
• “Utilize natural light whenever you can,” says Katie Lenz, sales coordinator, Event Lab. “If it’s a daytime party, host it in an area that gets a lot of sunshine—but make sure to have patio umbrellas so guests can escape the sun if they want.” Lenz suggests creating “seating pods” by staking patio umbrellas in the ground (like you’re at the beach), and placing chairs and end tables underneath. “Your guests will flock to these spots.”
• Bring an extra table or teacart outdoors. (You always need more table surface than you realize.)
• To keep pesky bugs at bay, surround your patio with catnip, rosemary, mint, scented geraniums, or lavender, says Susie Bachman, director of perishable procurement at Bachman’s.
• Create an eclectic mix-and-match trendy lounge look (while offering comfortable seating rather than those hard-as-rock plastic lawn chairs) by bringing armchairs and pillows outdoors. You can even cover up patches of unattractive lawn with a carefully placed rug.
• For a unique way to serve adult beverages, fill a wheelbarrow with ice and add bottles of beer, white wine, or water. Drape a towel over the handle of the wheelbarrow to wipe away the condensation. Make sure there’s a bottle opener or corkscrew nearby.
• If kids are invited to the party, find a large plastic tub and fill it with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls, and jump ropes. The kids will appreciate the gesture, and so will their parents. If the kids are over past sundown, supply them with flashlights for a game of night tag.
• Illuminate your evening soiree with citronella candles (a must-have for warding off mosquitoes and flies), or add a little elegance by stringing lights in your trees or on your patio. Uplight your trees, shrubs, and gardens with battery-operated LED lights, or hang a funky chandelier or antique lantern from a tree, says Shereé Bochenek, creative director, Aprés Party and Tent Rental. Don’t forget to make sure your pathway is well-lit, too, especially if there’s a change in elevation.
• Consider adding a water feature to your landscape. “There is nothing like the sound of water, it is so relaxing,” says Doug Geesaman, landscape manager, Otten Bros. Garden Center and Landscape. “Sitting by a stream with your friends and family, it just doesn’t get any better than that.” Water features need motion, he says, and the experienced Otten Bros. staff can create waterfalls, streams, pondless waterfalls, boulders drilled out for water, even simple overflowing ceramic pots.
• When it comes to décor, less can be more. According to the design team at Festivities, it’s those little touches that help to define your backyard bash. They suggest extravagant damask linens to go with your collection of mismatched flatware and vases, or a detail as simple as a button at each place setting to tack the napkin to the tablecloth prior to the meal.
• Lenz says pops of neon color (orange or pink) are hot this year, but warns hosts not to over-do for fear of coming off as an 80s-themed party. Other fun backyard themes include a lobster boil, Arabian nights, retro-beach, Cuban, or “Summer in the Hamptons.”
• Some popular theme ideas, according to Bochenek, include Mad Men (with 50s and 60s-influenced music and mod styles), natural-looking forest effects, made popular by The Hunger Games, and “anything birds” (ranging from specific birds to feathers and nests). “I’m also seeing something called ‘farm bling or farm chic,’” she says. “People are combining the rustic look of a wood bench with crystal, or using a linen that looks like burlap laced with metallic thread.”
• Spice up your backyard party with creative containers in colorful glazed pots (annuals, perennials, even blooming plants), outdoor fire pits (don’t forget the s’mores), a DIY mojito bar, and lawn games like bocce, croquet, or—if you’re limited on lawn space—a deck of cards or old-fashioned board game.
• Whether you’re gathering with friends for dinner or drinks on a patio or hosting a fabulous backyard bash, these ideas are sure to make your summer get-together an event to remember.
Your guests will love these frosty tropical cocktails on a hot summer day.
1 ounce white rum
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce blue curaçao liqueur
1 ounce cream of coconut
1 slice pineapple
1 cup of ice
In an electric blender, blend at high speed white rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and one cup of ice. Pour contents into a highball glass. Garnish with pineapple and cherry.
2 ounces white rum
¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
Juice from half a lime
1 ounce grapefruit juice
Squeeze lime juice into a shaker, add remaining ingredients and shake briefly with a glassful of crushed ice. Strain into a frosted cocktail glass.
8 ounces tequila
8 ounces mango nectar
2 ounces Cointreau
2 ounces coconut nectar
3 cups crushed ice
fresh mango wedges
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Fill tall glasses with crushed ice, strain the mix over the ice. Garnish with fresh mango.
1 ½ ounces vodka
1 ½ ounces fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce honey syrup
½ ounce simple syrup
1 mint sprig
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, lemon juice, honey syrup and simple syrup and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with mint.