Summer is just around the corner and outdoor hangouts are—still—the perfect way to enjoy a(nother) pandemic summer. With the CDC lifting restrictions on mask-wearing for vaccinated individuals outdoors, hosting a backyard soiree is going to be lit (see what I did there?). If you are lucky enough to have a backyard or patio, you can finally host more comfortable get-togethers. Before you call all of your vaccinated friends and family over, though, you’ll want to prep the space and ready it for a cozy hang out. Here are a few ways to spice up your space for a long-awaited backyard party.
Decide what kind of entertaining you want to provide
Decorating your outdoor space should reflect your personality and the company you want to attract. If you and your friends love beer pong and corn hole, you might want to take a look at creating a beer-garden-inspired space. My friends and family are big movie lovers, so I’d want to emulate an outdoor movie-themed hang out (if I had a backyard). Once you’ve got your theme, it’s time to decorate.
Select your furniture
If you chose a cocktail party theme, no need to buy large outdoor furniture; a few Adirondack chairs, coffee table, and side tables would suffice. If you want a comfortable hang out where people will spend hours talking and enjoying the summer nights, comfy couch-style sectionals work. Better Homes & Gardens also suggests buying outdoor rugs to bring in a splash of color and make the space more inviting for long hangs.
My family loves outdoor dining, so there would be a large wooden table for cookouts and a good sturdy umbrella for shade in our dream backyard. If you are on a budget, a nice folding table with a decorative table cloth is all you need. If you are handy, you can build your own table—even one with a built-in beverage cooler.
Don’t skimp on the details
String lights are the easiest and most aesthetically pleasing way to decorate any backyard or patio space. String lights create a mood for any style you are looking for, but they are just one detail when it comes to outdoor entertaining.
Speakers are another way to bring the party to the backyard. You can get a couple of outdoor Bluetooth speakers for a portable option, and you can choose speakers that match your aesthetic. Some speakers double as tiki torches (fireless, of course), and others can blend into the scenery like rocks. If you have the budget for it, you can also install speaker systems around your yard for a more permanent and integrated music experience.
The sun plays a big part in your outdoor lounge area, so you’ll want to design areas of shade for your guests. However, buying even the smallest pergola can run you about $200. Instead, I suggest treating the space like the beach by creating shade with umbrellas and tent-style set-ups. Attach canopy cloths from your outdoor wall to create a shaded sitting area—you can find them online for as cheap as $19. The home decorating site House Beautiful recommends using all white linens to reflect the light and keep your patio cool.
Fire pits are a plus
Roasting marshmallows around a fire is not just for camping anymore (it’s a year-round thing for me). There are so many innovative ways to create a fire pit in your backyard. The traditional way requires cement blocks and a little bit of masonry. But there are also plenty of fire pits that can be purchased online and ready to go right out of the box. A hundred bucks will get you a moveable fire pit that burns wood and can be set up anywhere in your yard, as long as the ground is level and you take the protection of your deck or yard into consideration.
If you have a balcony in the city or a small outdoor space, you can buy smokeless canisters to replicate the feel of a fire pit. Products like City Bonfires are miniature cans that you can use to roast marshmallows. And items like Solo Stove are larger portable fire pits great for camping and backyard summer nights.