8 Ways to Set the Mood for Outdoor Celebrations

May 19, 2010 | 33 Comments

Whether you’re hosting a casual backyard barbecue or a refined at-home wedding, there are plenty of ways to make your outdoor space elegant, inviting and festive for any type of party. Just get creative with what you already have, and make the most of your limited budget with inexpensive additions.
1. Get your yard shipshape. At least a week before your event, head out to the yard with your gardening gear to make sure you are starting with a space that’s neat and orderly. Weed your garden, trim hedges, sweep decks and walkways, mow the lawn and pick up fallen branches. A well-groomed garden and lawn will go a long way toward making your event seem more polished.

2. Clean outdoor furniture. Outdoor furniture gets weathered and dirty when it’s exposed to the elements. Make sure yours is as clean as can be so guests won’t get their clothes dirty. Tackle outdoor furniture with Antibacterial fantastik® All Purpose Heavy Duty Cleaner and a sponge, and launder removable slipcovers, treating stains beforehand with a stain remover like Shout® Advanced Ultra Gel.

3. Get creative with lighting. “Lighting is a great way to set a mood,” says Ki Taylor, bridal assistant with Dreamaker Events in Atlanta. She suggests lighting walkways or the perimeter of the party area and using inexpensive candles liberally (enclosed in glass lanterns or hurricanes) throughout outdoor spaces. White twinkle lights strung in the trees or wrapped along a fence can also create a magical mood. For one outdoor wedding, Taylor and her colleague Sabrina Roeback, the owner of Dreamaker Events, even hung an elegant chandelier from a tree!

4. Use color in unexpected ways. Taylor and Roeback suggest choosing a color scheme and using it everywhere—from paper lanterns hanging in trees (even if the lanterns are not lit) to tinting water in clear glass vases for flower arrangements or floating candles. For an edible display, fill a large glass bowl or vase with jellybeans or other candies that match your theme colors.

5. Make an impact with water. If you have a swimming pool, birdbath or even a kiddie pool, you can incorporate it into your decorating scheme with floating candles. Or, if your theme is more casual or whimsical, float a slew of bath toys (rubber duckies or boats would work) or colorful beach balls on the water.

6. Dress up the food display. Roeback suggests covering food and dining tables with real linens to “instantly add elegance and class.” Arrange food on colorful platters that tie in with your color scheme.

7. Make it personal. Roeback and Taylor often soak the labels off water bottles and replace them with customized labels, inexpensively printed from a computer. But you can also use any of your or your family’s special talents to make a party more personal, whether it’s laminating your kids’ finger paintings to use as coasters or placemats or simply creating flower arrangements from flowers in your garden.

8. Bring the indoors out. Look through your house for furniture you can bring outside, such as upholstered sofas or loveseats, end tables and throw pillows. You can protect upholstered furniture by covering it with a neutral, light-colored slipcover or sheet. Arranging these pieces in clusters will help delineate a space and will create areas for people to congregate. “You want people to be as comfortable as possible,” says Taylor.


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