5 Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

by Alli

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 being inside. These 5 Outdoor Entertaining Ideas will help you throw the perfect party (even if it’s just for your immediate family. 

I’ve linked to several products I love. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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 are some ideas I think you’re going to like!


5 Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

1.  Ditch the plain, boring paper plates.

I love melamine and bought these at World Market. They might get a little pricey if you need to buy a large number of pieces.

I also spotted some beautiful ones on Amazon. I wish I had seen them first! These floral plates are gorgeous. You can also find striped, rustic, or just about any pattern you want. 

If you want to stick with paper plates for easy cleanup, go beyond the plain and boring and add a pop of color! Make sure you grab the heavy-duty kind. 

2.  Keep it simple and low key.

 You don’t have to stress over the meal. Plan a simple menu and let the grill do all of your work!  

Check out my perfectly cooked steaks! But you can go way beyond the beef! The veggies can be cooked on the grill, too. Even dessert can be grilled! Here are 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, main dish meat, a starch, 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!

Mow the lawn and tidy up the landscaping. 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!

Keep Bugs Away When Entertaining Outdoors

Make sure you have these beautiful citronella candles to keep unwanted pests away. These candles have come a long way, baby. They are no longer bland and boring. 

  • Mint will also help keep the flies away! Use pots of mint as part of your decor. It’s beautiful and smells good. 
  • Mosquitoes hate citrus peel. Use citrus peel as part of your decor by scattering them among your centerpiece for a rustic look.
  • Lavender repels spiders, mosquitoes, and moths.  
  • Set up a couple of oscillating fans to keep bugs at bay.
  • Reusable popup mesh screen food covers help keep bugs away from the food. 
  • I’ve heard that dryer sheets tucked under the dining table legs will keep ants away. Hey, it’s worth a try. 

4.  Decorate with cuttings from your yard.

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

I have knockout roses and hydrangeas starting to bloom. Either of these flowers works perfectly for a centerpiece. 

hydrangeas - perfect centerpiece for outdoor dining ideas

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

Of course, this is a tip for once the world opens back up. Have everyone 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 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 love of the Caribbean with a tropical party. 

Hey, if you can’t get to your favorite island anytime soon, you can dream while you’re celebrating at home. 

Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

When it comes to an island party, I like to use tropical colors, with blue and lime green being my feature colors.  Then I add in a splash of orange and yellow.

I like to mix patterns. But if you don’t, go with what you love! 

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. Amazon has so many different styles and colors to choose from. 

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

Shop The Look For Outdoor Entertaining Ideas 

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

PlaceMats/Citronella Candles – I grabbed these at The Dollar Tree. You can also find beautiful placemats and candles on Amazon. These washable woven vinyl placemats look like linen. 

Table Runner – I love this table runner

Luggage Tags – Amazon.com

Flowers – Walmart

Outdoor Entertaining

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Outdoor Entertaining PlayList

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

Top 10 Summer Songs




Jeanette Ford May 12, 2014 - 6:37 am

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.

Christine May 12, 2014 - 8:02 am

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!

Shirley @ Intelligent Domestications May 12, 2014 - 8:35 am

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

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Shirley, you are so sweet! I loved the summer song list, too! Some of the songs took me way, way back.

Reginia Cordell May 12, 2014 - 8:44 am

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.

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:45 pm

I love World Market, too!

Madison May 12, 2014 - 9:10 am

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

Madaline May 12, 2014 - 9:21 am

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

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:45 pm

I thought the luggage tags would be a great take home favor, especially if you were having a going away party.

zan May 12, 2014 - 9:32 am

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

Paris (My Big Fat Happy Life) May 12, 2014 - 9:46 am

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

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:43 pm

Thanks, Paris! Have I told you how much I love your name? 🙂

Kathe May 12, 2014 - 10:54 am

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

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:43 pm

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.

Jeannie May 12, 2014 - 11:18 am

Using pots of mint is brilliant.

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:42 pm

I learned that trick a few years ago and I have it outside both my front and back doors to keep those pesky flies away.

Laura May 12, 2014 - 11:38 am

Love this so bright and cheery!!!

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:41 pm

Thanks, Laura!

Renee @ Renew Your Space May 12, 2014 - 12:29 pm

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

Alli May 12, 2014 - 12:41 pm

Thanks, Renee! I always look at what’s free first! 🙂

Erica Manoz May 12, 2014 - 1:50 pm

Those are some nice bright colors. Great tips!

Alli May 12, 2014 - 4:20 pm

Thanks, Erica!

Alex | Thrifty Below May 12, 2014 - 2:04 pm

Beautiful, Alli! So many bright, pretty colors!

Alli May 12, 2014 - 4:16 pm

Thanks, heading over to read about your collard greens! Makes me hungry!

Kristen from The Road to Domestication May 12, 2014 - 2:14 pm

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 🙂

Alli May 12, 2014 - 4:16 pm

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! 🙂

nadeen May 12, 2014 - 2:22 pm

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

Alli May 12, 2014 - 4:14 pm

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! 🙂

FabEllis May 12, 2014 - 2:23 pm

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!

Ricci May 12, 2014 - 5:38 pm

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

Kristin May 12, 2014 - 10:13 pm

Love the idea to decorate with cuttings from the yard!

Anna @ Northern Homestead May 13, 2014 - 12:39 am

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.

Alli May 13, 2014 - 6:15 am

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. 🙂

Caden May 13, 2014 - 12:45 am

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!

Alli May 13, 2014 - 6:07 am

Thanks, Caden! A first home is so exciting!

Tara May 13, 2014 - 1:08 pm

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

Amanda Smith May 14, 2014 - 9:15 pm

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.

heidi May 19, 2014 - 5:35 am

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

addy April 12, 2019 - 8:03 am

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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