5 Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

It’s time to take it outdoors!  Haven’t we been cooped up inside way too long?  I don’t know about you, but I’m so over old man winter.  He was quite brutal this past season!

But spring has sprung and it’s outdoor entertaining time.  Can I get a witness?  It’s time to hit the deck, make sure the grill is cleaned and get ready for some outdoor entertaining ideas!

Whether you are planning a small intimate date night outdoors or having the entire family or neighborhood drop in (yikes!), or celebrating a special occasion (graduation, bridal/baby shower, going away party, etc.), here’s some ideas I think you’re going to like!


5 Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

1.  Ditch the plain, boring paper plates.

I used melamine and bought mine at World Market.  They would get a little pricey if you needed to buy a large number of pieces.  But, I also spotted some beautiful ones at The Dollar Tree and I fell in love with the orange/white and blue/white pattern  I need to go back and buy them!  I just like the way melamine kicks an outdoor party up a notch, but still keeps that casual vibe.

If you want to stick with paper for easy clean up, go beyond the plain and boring and add a pop of color!

2.  Keep it simple and low key.

Just because you don’t use paper plates, doesn’t mean that you have to stress over the meal.  Make up a simple menu and let the grill do all of your work!  Check out my perfectly cooked steaks here!  But you can go way beyond the beef!  The veggies can be cooked on the grill, too.  Even dessert can be grilled!  Here’s 17 irresistible grilled desserts!

A fish fry is a little more prep work, but, honestly, the outside deep fryer does all the work!  Find the best fried fish in the world right here!  Or keep it ultra healthy and grill your fish.

When cooking outdoors, my menu usually consists of a freshly prepared salad, a main dish meat, a starch, a vegetable, assorted beverages and a dessert.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling especially festive, I’ll have an appetizer – usually an antipasto platter.  My favorite is Ina Garten’s!

3.  Prep your yard and clean the house!

Make sure the lawn is mowed and your landscaping is tidy.  Also, unless you have an outdoor pool house with a bathroom, make sure the house is clean.  (I always do the deep cleaning a few days in advance and then on the day of the party I hit the high spots!

Make sure you have citronella candles to keep unwanted pests away.

Helpful Hint:  Mint will help keep the flies away!  Use pots of mint as part of your decor.  It’s beautiful and smells good.  On that note . . .

4.  Decorate with cuttings from your yard.

It’s pretty!  It’s free!  What more could you ask for?

5.  If you feel too overwhelmed, have a pot-luck.

Ask everyone to bring a dish.  It’s helpful to specify dessert, side dish, etc. so that everyone doesn’t bring dessert.  Of course, that would be fine by me!  🙂  And ask your BFF to come over early and help you set up.

The outdoor party that I’m featuring here is an intimate party for my husband and me.  And I decided to celebrate our upcoming trip to St. Lucia.

Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

I used tropical colors, with blue and lime green being my feature colors.  Then I added in a splash of orange and yellow.

Five Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

Notice that the place cards/napkin holders/party favors are luggage tags.  I just inserted our names written on colored paper into the luggage tag on top of the plastic insert.  The luggage tags are very inexpensive.  I ordered them from Amazon (look to the right and you can order them right this instance and I’ll get a tiny little commision) and they came in a package of 10, in a rainbow of colors and were under $10.00.  Score!

Five Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

Special Note:  I never write my home address or phone number on my luggage tag.  I use my cell number and my website address.  Why bother at all?  It’s just easier to locate my checked luggage as it comes off the conveyor belt and I may gain a new fan of my blog!  

Want more packing tips?  Here’s my top 10 packing list!

Outdoor Entertaining

Where I bought It

Plates/Napkins/Bowls/Lime, Blue Sodas/Straws – World Market

Place Mats/Citronella Candles – The Dollar Tree

Table Runner (my linen closet, but I bought it a while back at Hobby Lobby)

Luggage Tags – Amazon.com

Flowers – Walmart

Outdoor Entertaining



Outdoor Entertaining


What’s your favorite outdoor dining tip?

Outdoor Entertaining


Oh, wait!  Don’t forget the music!  You must have summer music playing in the background!

Top 10 Summer Songs



About Alli

Southern, Morning Person, Jesus Girl, Frugal Party Planner, Writer/Blogger, Mom, Nana, Wife, Beach Bum Wannabe - Let's Have a Party!


  1. I love the colors! So bright and cheerful. And I am definitely remembering the mint tip. I have a pot growing in my backyard right now.

  2. Wonderful ideas…all of them! I like that you remind us not to do more then we can but concentrate on make the guests feel special.

    I am having a Table It Link party just right for your post so come on over if you’d like to join us!

  3. Great tips, beautiful table setting and wonderful summer song list! Pinning!

  4. When I lived in Atlanta, World Market was one of my favorite places to go.

    I love being entertain outdoors, but I’ve yet to host a party. These are great tips.

  5. Love these tips! I am so anxious to have some friends over for a cook out soon, definitely will be implementing these ideas!

  6. These place settings are gorgeous! They make me so happy to look at! And the luggage tag idea is amazing!!!

  7. Oh, I love the ideas and the beautiful colors. Way to go and have fun in St. Lucia!

  8. Great tips! I love using melamine outside! Great photos.

  9. Once the snow stops falling (please stop!!) and it melts away I am totally using your tips Alli!! Beautiful table set for outdoor entertaining.

    • It’s been in the low 90’s the last few days here in SC! We did have a nice spring this year. Normally we go straight from winter to summer.

  10. Using pots of mint is brilliant.

  11. Love this so bright and cheery!!!

  12. Potlucks are a great thing! I always forget to use some cuttings to decorate with – great ideas & I love all the pops of color.

  13. Those are some nice bright colors. Great tips!

  14. Beautiful, Alli! So many bright, pretty colors!

  15. This is a great post, Alli! I LOVE your melamine! And you got that soda from World Market, too, huh? So fun! I’m in the midst of decorating my back porch with nice bright colors like this! Thanks for the additional inspiration 🙂

    • Yep, I could wonder around World Market for hours! My daughters took me on a porch, patio and garden tour this past Saturday and I found lots of new ideas. I will be sharing them on the blog! 🙂

  16. So pretty and colorful!! Interesting about the potluck. I always feel bad asking people to bring things. if they offer then maybe but I never do potlucks. Maybe I should reconsider. it would have to be people I know can cook or buy well! lol

    • I never do potlucks, either, but I have friends that have them all the time and I’m always happy to take something. But I’m the type person that does the entire thing by myself! I’m preaching to the choir! 🙂

  17. Love these ideas! So cute and affordable. I was just telling my fiance I want to have a cookout this summer, but I’m not sure how we can do that in an apartment. Hopefully I can come up with an idea!

  18. These are great ideas!! You make me want to decorate my table for summer!!

  19. Love the idea to decorate with cuttings from the yard!

  20. How fun and beautiful! I love those summer potlucks in the back yard. However, I do not care so much about deco. Yards in the summer are beautiful anyways.

    • I just love a beautifully decorated table. I was always taught that we eat with our eyes first and decorating is one of favorite things to do. 🙂

  21. I Cant wait to buy our first home! The time is coming sooner rather than later and just day dream about having a back yard! I love the party ideas, and beautiful photos!

  22. Great ideas! So ready for summer and outdoor parties! Love the colors scheme that you choose.

  23. That table setting is so cute! What a great use of color. I think I will look for colored paper plates. That;s a great idea i had not considered. That way I can still have color, but avoid the dishes. When our family gets together we have 25 people and the dishes from cooking alone are enough for this working mama.

  24. I love all the colors. And that blue pop is amazing. Visiting from Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party.

  25. Great ideas there!! I have learnt a lot and I will try some of your suggestions when we go for an outing with my family.

    Great blog, thanks for sharing!!

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