Your Best Tips for Outdoor Entertaining

Even though it’s not quite summer according to the calendar, this weekend it sure felt like it. So in my estimation it is now officially picnic and grilling season. I’m lucky that the apartment I moved into in April has access to a massive roof deck, which we share with our downstairs neighbors.

I’m excited to be able to have people over and have the option of expanding the party outside. But since I’m new at this (I haven’t had outdoor space since college), I’m looking to you all for your best tips for outdoor entertaining.


Here are a few of the things that I do already:

1. Simplify the menu: We don’t have a ton of chairs outside, so it’s important that everything we serve can be eaten standing up. We also have to be able to get it onto the roof deck, which means either climbing down the fire escape with it, or passing it through our neighbors’ kitchen window.

2. Use eco-friendly tableware: I’m not about to lug my dishes down the fire escape, but I don’t want to use regular paper (or worse, plastic) plates. So I’m going to be investing in some Wasara plates and cups from Branch Home. They are made of sugarcane and are 100% biodegradable, and can even go in your compost pile.

3. Pull out the Christmas lights: Easy and inexpensive (especially if you hit up the after Christmas sales), holiday lights are one of the best ways to light up an outdoor party. I’m also considering the SOLIG paper lanterns from IKEA, for the areas where we can’t reach an extension cord. (I might also look into a few of the suggestions from our recent Daily Finds: 6 Brilliant Picks for Outdoor Lighting.)

4. Put the party playlist on shuffle and repeat: Music definitely adds to a party, but I hate having to worry about it through out the night. That’s why I normally make a new playlist for each party–depending on the crowd and the vibe of the gathering, and make sure that it will only repeat twice. That way guests don’t hear the same song more than twice, and by putting it on shuffle, it wont’ feel like a playlist.

I’d love to hear your best tips for outdoor entertaining—I can use all the help I can get!

(image by Beatriz Da Costa for Real Simple)