★  DO plan a color scheme and theme for table settings

Part of the fun of an outdoor dinner party is the change in scenery from the usual dining room. Take advantage of that and choose an exotic theme for the gathering and set the table accordingly.

 

You can use a table runner and centerpieces for a splash of color. Maybe you would prefer to decorate with hanging lanterns or vases of freshly cut flowers. Whatever you choose, make the color palette and theme for the evening cohesive. Just a small bit of planning can give off a presence in your yard that shows you made an effort.

★  DON’T give yourself too much prep work

Make sure to plan a meal that takes very little prep work while your guests are at your home. Plan a dinner that either takes a small amount of preparation or can be prepared mostly before hand. Adding the stress of chopping, sauteing and cooking can be too much for a hostess who is also tending to guests.

 

With that being said it is also wise to be sure not to throw a pot of mac and cheese together and call it class. Take the time to find a meal that works great for entertaining and try to make the ingredients seasonal and local.

★  DON’T stress about offering every type of beverage

Surely all of your guests would order differing drinks at a full bar. Instead of spending your time worrying about Bob’s favorite gin for his martinis and having gluten free beer for Jennifer just let guests know that they can bring beverages. It is customary to bring a bottle of wine to a dinner party, so let them know that their favorite beverage is definitely welcome.

 

Allow yourself to delegate the stress of providing customized drinks to your attendees so that you can focus on the other party aspects. But make sure to have a bottle of white and red wines to serve with dinner.

★  DO get a large, inviting outdoor dining table

The idea of an outdoor dinner party can be romantic and great fun but it isn’t the same with out a great big table to eat around. Don’t make guests scatter around patio chairs and eat on their laps, invest in an elongated outdoor dining table. This piece of furniture will come to great use not just for parties but to even just enjoy your morning coffee and bagel.

 

Your guests will certainly appreciate the ability to sit around a table and make conversation. It will truly be easier to entertain if you add this necessary piece of furniture to your collection.

★  DO play light, non-distracting music

Even the best of friends tend to share some awkward silences, fill those in with musical ambience. Have a playlist or CD playing lightly in the background so that guests can chat quietly without feeling they are broadcasting their conversation. Don’t play any songs that are too lyrical or high tempo, make sure that they coincide with the general energy you are looking to provide at your dinner party. When making the playlist just remember the music is the backdrop to the party, it should be barely noticed by your guests.