Entertaining Alfresco, Part II: Functional Elements

OK, I admit it, I just want to stay outside!! As long as the weather cooperates, I say, keep on movin' those parties (and guests) outdoors.  It isn't just about getting out of the house though, is it?  You've got to consider your guests' entire experience.   I know since my last post, many are thinking beyond a "table for two" and outdoor umbrellas. 

Got that party penciled in on the calendar?  Now you can start the real planning, some great tips that will take you from start to finish;  functional elements that will keep your family and friends out enjoying the party for as long as possible! :

Up First, Lighting.

Flood lights? Citronella candles? I think not!  You can do better than that to safely guide your guests through the dark and - equally as important (or more?) - create atmosphere.  Mhhh, many options, inexpensive to the major investment - you decide which is best.

Scatter candles throughout the entertaining area.  Tall candles can provide a good amount of light when housed in a hurricane lamp to prevent being blown out by the wind.

    Torches around the perimeter of the area provide a beachy, island vibe while deterring bugs and creating dramatic shadows.

      Strings of lights are an inexpensive way to add a bit of magic and twinkle to your outdoor affairs.  This lighting idea borrowed from your college dorm room adds whimsy and interest.

                                Photo: L, Trendy Wifee    and   Photo M, R: Live Creating Yourself            

        Paper lanterns are low budget but fun, create a soft glow, adding some color and to me, they just say, "party".
          Photo: Source Unknown
          You can design with more permanency however; an investment you would surely never regret.  Case-n-point below... multiply your living space; light your path straight from the back door and throughout the yard with uplights and downlights that highlight plants, trees, sculptures, and water features.  Gorgeous!

            Even in smaller spaces, it adds both beauty and functionality, simply incorporating the lighting around the cooking area and footlights for surrounding pathways.

              Have you seen any other great lighting designs in outdoor spaces?  Please share if you have or if you've seen something new and wonderful that may have escaped my radar.  Would love to hear about it!  In the meantime, let's talk about keeping that chill out of the air!

              So how about those Temperature? 

              I know, its summer, who wants to think about heating elements?  But you know there is always one..... your sister, your friend, neighbor? - the one who is always chilly, regardless of the time of year.  Well whoever that person is, thank them, because that one special person should have you thinking about climate control.  But then again, who are we kidding, I bet we all agree that a fire-pit and/or heating element is an essential element in summertime fun..... it's surely an absolute must for late-night S'more's making!  So whether you go for a firepit.........

              or a patio heater.... (who's only downside is no-marshmallow toasting);
                                              Photo: L, Luxury Housing Trends          R,  Patio Heaters Direct
                (both of these are great looking gas-powered options)

                or an outdoor fireplace - bigger investment for a fabulous look; 

                regardless of the final choice, come late August and early fall, you will be so pleased with yourself that you incorporated this very important feature into your planning!

                So, I feel like this is a bit backwards, but talking heat now has me thinking about that scorching sun!

                Have you considered shade and Sun? 

                If you're doing a brunch or lunch, shade needs to be a major consideration.  Though we all should be slathering on the SPF 30 we all know not everyone does.  Unless we want our guests to be reaching for the aloe, make sure to provide some shaded areas ....

                Renting a tent is the standard and wise option for a large group. 
                   Photo: Source Unknown

                  and yes, there is always the tried and true... tables with umbrellas for more casual gatherings;

                  and sure, I LOVE this, but its not going to hold out very long through the day, let alone the season....;


                  this is pretty quaint too, actually rather adore it.... but c'mon, we all know impracticality when we see it, right?

                  Long term is what we're talking.  My suggestion:  think pergola, lattice or awning
                  to get the most from the season....

                  This is precisely the vision I have for our existing patio!
                    Photo: ? TBA

                  And one last and very important detail: Do you have a little cutie like my guy, Quincy, who follows you wherever you go?

                  You do!  Well, don't forget him/her; they love to be entertained and expect to be included......

                   Design with your best buds in mind and be sure they have the option of being in or out of the sun too!

                  Photo: AZ Woodman

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