For those of us who really enjoy our backyards, we know how to have some fun outside when the weather is right. For some people, it may be as simple as sitting on an old lawn chair they bought at a rummage sale 20 years ago. For others, it may be a little more elaborate, with candles, fancy table settings, and tents. Most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle of those two options and want to make sure our guests are just as comfortable as we are. But just because you may be comfortable in your backyard doesn’t mean your guests will be as well. In fact, inviting guests over to stand around in the grass getting their ankles bitten by mosquitoes may encourage them to leave much sooner than you anticipated. The same goes true for high-end backyard parties, as they can sometimes be too “stuffy” for casual backyard entertainment. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. It’s the essentials that matter, and we have tips for making your backyard comfortable for yourself and your guests.
One confusing predicament for guests of any type of gathering is the question, “What do I wear?” They don’t want to show up overdressed, but they don’t want to show up underdressed either. Nonetheless, they’ll be looking to you for guidance. For example, if their idea of a casual get-together involves wearing women's khaki shorts and a nice shirt, they’ll feel silly if you greet them wearing athletic gear and sneakers. The same goes true when it is the other way around and you’re the one who is more dressed up than they are. To avoid this dilemma, make it clear what they should expect when you extend the invitation. For example, if you want them to truly be comfortable, tell them you’ll be wearing your comfiest clothes and simply want to enjoy their company in an informal setting. In contrast, if you’re throwing a party that is a little more high-end, you can certainly inform your guests that the dress code will be a little more formal.
One of the most important things to consider when you really want your guests to be comfortable is where they are going to sit. Not having comfortable seating — and not having enough of it — can be downright awkward. There are so many options these days when it comes to outdoor seating, so take the time to explore what may work best for your yard space. For example, Adirondack chairs are comfortable to sit in and won’t blow away in the wind. Consider having a variety of seating options, too. Placing some Adirondacks and benches around a fire pit is a great option for laid-back conversation. Hammocks are fun, too. And if you don’t mind bringing in the cushions when the threat of rain or wind surprises you, there are lots of plush outdoor furniture sets that are just as comfortable as your indoor furniture.
You’d be amazed by how a bit of ambiance can transform a backyard, especially at nighttime. For example, your comfy patio chairs and cushioned outdoor futon probably feel and look amazing, but imagine how they’d appear under a strand of amber lights or next to the flicker of an outdoor candle (or both). Music and extra throw blankets are also great additions that show that you put extra thought into your event, even if it is just a small gathering.
To invite people over without offering them food or at least some hors d'oeuvres with their drinks is a no-no when it comes to entertaining. Of course, they’re not likely to complain if what you offer isn’t necessarily five-star; however, if you’re going to entertain, you might as well do it right. This is another area where you’re going to want to make it clear to your guests as to what they should expect. For example, if you invite them over around dinnertime and offer nothing but snacks, they may be a little annoyed (and hungry) they didn’t eat beforehand. Be clear about what your event will entail so there aren’t any surprises. You can even say it’s a potluck, which gives them the freedom to bring something they’re comfortable eating as well.
No matter how prepared you are for your guests, and no matter how ready and excited they are to spend some time with you in your backyard, there can be contenders out there who want nothing but to ruin your hard work. They come in the form of the sun as well as mosquitoes, ticks, and other nasty insects. Exposed legs and arms for most outdoor gatherings are fair game for sunburn as well as blood-thirsty bugs. Showing up to your home with a can of bug spray or sunscreen may make guests feel awkward, so have them available for them to use if needed. You can also warn them in advance if your yard lacks shade or tends to get a little “buggy” at times. That way, they can at least dress accordingly by wearing something like a wide-brimmed hat to block the sun or bringing a flannel shirt to protect their arms when the bugs come out.
When it comes to entertaining at home, there’s no need to roll out the red carpet and host a formal party. There are lots of simple things you can do to make sure your guests are as comfortable as you are in your backyard.