How to Plan the Perfect Outdoor Party

outdoor party

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There’s no better way to celebrate some great summer weather than with a garden party. If you’re looking to pull out all the stops and host the perfect outdoor party, you’ve found the right place! We’ll take you through everything you’ll ever need to make sure it’s a success. This guide will tell you everything you need to know step-by-step so you don’t miss anything out. Here’s everything you’ll need to think about.

Guest list 
Date and Time
Food and Drinks
Power Supply

It might seem a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry! Take a look at our free printable party planning checklist to keep you on track. 

Now you know what needs organising, let’s get starting with some ideas for planning an amazing outdoor party!

Outdoor Party Themes

Every great garden party has a theme. But which should you choose? Check out our list of the 20 best party theme to choose the perfect one for your outdoor event. 

If you don’t fancy choosing a theme for your party, that’s cool, but you need to at least pick a colour scheme for your party supplies and decorations. Bright colours are perfect if you want to go for a fun summer vibe. But if you want to go for a more sophisticated atmosphere, then you should choose a pastel colour scheme.

Outdoor Party Invitations

If it’s a casual garden party, it’s cool to just drop your guests a text and ask if they can make it. This way you’ll get a direct reply so you know exactly how many people are planning to come.

Handwritten invitations offer a personal touch, but can be time consuming. You can also mail invitations created using a Microsoft programme like Powerpoint or Office. If you want to create professional looking invitations easily, use Canva. It’s a website that allows you to create a range of graphic design media using a range of ready-made templates. 

If you want an easy and quick way of sending your invitations, make a Facebook event. It’ll allow you to add everyone in one go, and keeps a track of everyone’s response so you know exactly who’s coming.

Outdoor Party Decorations

Head over to your local party supply store to find a range of great decorations and supplies that won’t cost a fortune. There are loads of ideas online too, so hop on Amazon or Ebay to find some inspiration for your birthday party at home. 

Shindigz is a great online party supply store that you can use to find great decoration ideas with over 34,000 party supplies for every occasion and next day delivery!  

Stumps Party is another awesome party supply store offering custom event supplies and regular deals and discounts. 

If you’ve picked a theme for your party, you’ll have no trouble finding some great decorations to complete the look! Here are some tips and ideas to get you started:

  • Balloon garlands are great for the entrance to your outdoor party.
  • Hanging lanterns and fairy lights to create a warm cosy vibe.
  • Floral centrepieces are perfect for garden parties. 
  • Paper garlands are a cost-effective and colourful option.
  • Vine garlands are great for embracing the outdoors. 

Outdoor Party Food Ideas

BBQ Party Food

Of course the classic food choice for a garden party is a BBQ! Make sure you cater for both meat eaters and veggies though. Check out this list of the best BBQ foods to cook for a large group: 

  • Burgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • Salads
  • Cous cous
  • Shrimp kebabs
  • Chicken and lamb kebabs
  • Halloumi kebabs 
  • Corn on the cob
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pasta salad
  • Coleslaw
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Grilled salmon

More Options

If you don’t want a BBQ style summer party, there are plenty of other options.

If your budget is tight, you can organise the party food yourself. Either by buying the ingredients and cooking things yourself if you fancy yourself as a chef, or by ordering party food from a local supermarket that can be made fresh and collected on the day of the event. You can also ask for help from friends and family. Each guest could pitch in and bring a small dish so you don’t have to tackle it all yourself!

These options are better if you have a small guest list and plenty of time. But what if you’re catering for a huge number of people?

It might be best in this case to hire a caterer. There are still plenty of different options to choose from though. You first need to decide if you’re going for a buffet-style or sit-down meal. Next, consider what type of food you want to serve. Are you looking for a specific cuisine? Can you tie it in with the theme? 

Then you can go ahead and look for caterers that fit the bill in your local area. It’s a good idea to book early to make sure you get the party food you want!

If you need some help, check out our complete guide to party food, for everything you need to know!

Party Food Ideas

S’mores are all the rage at the moment, so why not serve some at your garden party? You can toast marshmallows and experience the classic smoky taste. Here are the best s’mores ideas you can try!

S’mores Recipe Ideas
  • Peanut butter
  • Forrest fruits
  • Salted caramel 
  • Cookie dough
  • Nutella
  • Chilli and chocolate
  • Oreo
  • Lemon meringue 
  • Strawberries and cream
Ice lollies are a must at an outdoor party too! Why not make some yourself and create a perfect refreshing treat for your guests? Here are some of the best ice lolly ideas you can serve at your garden party. 
  • Frozen raspberry lemonade
  • Watermelon
  • Traffic light
  • Strawberry yogurt
  • Homemade cola
  • Ginger beer and lime
  • Aperol Spritz
  • Prosecco 

15 Best Party Food Ideas

Take a look at our 5 favourite party food snacks, main dishes and desserts for more inspiration!

Best Party Snacks

  • Pigs in blankets
  • Sliders
  • Bruschetta 
  • Baguette pizza 
  • Deviled eggs

Great Party Main Dishes

  • Curry
  • Enchiladas
  • Pasta bake
  • Casserole
  • Salads

Easy Party Desserts

  • Cheesecake
  • Tarts
  • Cupcakes
  • Mousse
  • Brownies 
outdoor party food bbq

Outdoor Party Drink Ideas

You’ll also need to keep your guests refreshed with some great drinks too. Make sure you provide some good non-alcoholic options. And buy plenty of ice too because no one wants a warm drink in the sun!

Here’s our favourite non-alcoholic party drink recipe.


Homemade Cola (serves 10)


  • Juice from 2 1/2 oranges
  • Juice from 2 1/2 oranges
  • 10 drops cardamom essential oil
  • 10 drops nutmeg essential oil
  • 12 drops cinnamon essential oil
  • 20 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 20 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Juice from 5 lemons

This non-alcoholic party drink is sure to impress your guests. Add your ingredients to a glass, add ice and top with soda. Be sure to use quality, edible essential oils. 

It’s also a good idea to make some cocktails in batches too. Here’s a great recipe for a batch mojitos! 

Mojito (serves 10)


  • 500ml White Rum
  • Soda Water
  • 500ml Sugar Syrup
  • 5 Limes 
  • 30 Mint Leaves

Muddle the lime wedges, mint leaves and sugar syrup. Add the white rum and fill the glass with crushed ice. Top with soda and garnish with mint leaves and a lime wedge. 

You can make your party BYOB if you want a hassle free way of sorting your party drinks. But make sure you provide  few drinks as backup, like beers, wine, prosecco, champagne if you’re feeling extravagant and some juices and fizzy drinks too.
Why not set up a mini bar area at your outdoor party?  You can your drinks in drink dispensers to avoid having loads of cups spread across your table taking up a lot of space. Take at look at the 10 best party drinks for ideas on what to serve to your guests at a garden party!

Seating Arrangements

You’ll want to think carefully about how to arrange your furniture to ensure you make the most of your space.

Stackable chairs are a great space saver. You can have them inside to keep your outside space free, and bring them out if more of your guests want to sit down. 

Try and create some cosy areas too. For example, around a pond if you have one, or by some trees. Have cushions, throws and blankets available in these areas to create a warm and comfy area to chill. Or you could even hang some hammocks!
You’ll need to think about how many guests are invited, and if you’ve got enough seating. 

Of course some people will be walking around and mingling but it’s good to have plenty of areas to sit and relax. Try and provide seating for at least half the number of guests you’ve invited. This way, no one will be stood up for too long. You don’t need to have that many chairs though, blankets, cushions,  hammocks and even garden walls count too! 

Light it Up

If you’re garden party is being hosted in the evening or night, you’ll need some lighting.
Lighting doesn’t have to just be a boring necessity though, you can have some fun with it! Try and use it as part of your decorations. Strategically placed lighting is an essential part of creating a warm and inviting vibe so it’s important not to overlook it.
Hanging lights are a must at a garden party to create a cosy atmosphere. Fairy lights dangled across the top of your garden in a zig zag do a great job at brightening up your garden and look amazing at night. You can also add some lanterns at various focal points of your garden to highlight the areas and add to the decoration. Placing lights in hedges or trees is another great idea. 
Don’t forget about the ground though! Floor lighting also adds to the decorative effect, but has the added bonus of lighting the paths so your guests don’t trip up in the dark! 
Focus your lighting on key areas, such as the seating and tables. People will congregate around these areas so it’s important to make sure they are well lit and inviting spaces. 

Outdoor Party Heating

If you don’t live in a particularly hot country and it can get a bit chilly at night, then you’ll need to think about getting some outdoor heating.

Try buying or renting some heaters if your budget will stretch to it. Chimneys and fire pits are aesthetically pleasing heating solutions for your garden party. Patio heaters are also great practical options to make sure your outdoor space is well heated. You can either get some free standing heaters or wall mounted ones depending on how your garden space is arranged.

If you don’t want to pay a lot for heating at your garden party, then you can always offer some blankets to your guests to keep them warm!

Outdoor Party Music

If you want a cheap option, you can make a playlist yourself. All you’ll need is an Apple Music account, some speakers, an AUX lead and your mobile phone! If you want some tips for creating the perfect party playlist, check out our favourite tips!

Apple Music is the perfect way to create a party playlist. It’s intelligent recommendation feature makes it really quick to add songs to create the perfect track list and it’s cross fade feature makes seamless song transitions. It’s only $9.99/ £9.99 per month and you can get a free 3 month trial to check it out. And don’t worry, you can use it on Android devices too!

Join over 50 million subscribers and sign up for your 3 month free trial today! 

If you don’t trust yourself to DJ at your party, you can always hire a professional. They’re experts at getting the party started and keeping your guests entertained all night!  

If you’re not sure what option is best for you, take a look at our ultimate party music guide to help you decide. But if you do plan on hiring someone, make sure you try and book them as soon as possible, as DJs and live bands can be quite popular and you don’t want to miss out!

outdoor party dj

Power Supply

You’ll also probably need a power supply to be able to host an outdoor party. 
You can use a mini generator if you don’t have access to mains electricity, but if you can use your house’s electricity, this is the preferred option. You’ll only have to have access to some long extension cables to power up your party.
Just remember that wires are trip hazards so ensure that they are not placed anywhere where they may cause anyone to fall over. 
Keep an eye on the weather too, because you definitely don’t want to be caught out in the rain as this is incredibly dangerous. 
Always take safety precautions when using power supplies.

Outdoor Party Games

Think about throwing some party games into the mix too. They’re a great way to make sure your guests enjoy the party and have fun! But what are the best games to play. Here are a couple to get you started, but if you need some more, then check out the 10 best summer BBQ party games!

Water Balloon Dodge Ball

What you’ll need:

  • Lots of water balloons!
  • Large outdoor area

Number of players: 2 teams of at least 2 players

How long does it last? Around 5 minutes 

How to play:

  • Split your guests into teams.
  • Set up a large square or rectangle shaped area and outline the boundaries and half-way line. 
  • Put all the water balloons in the middle and countdown from 3 to start the game.
  • The players must run to the middle to grab as many water balloons as they can and throw them at the other team.
  • If they manage to hit another player with a water balloon, that player must sit out. 
  • The team with the most players left wins!
  • Be careful not to aim the water balloons at anyone’s face or to throw them too hard! 


What you’ll need:

  • Volleyball net
  • Large marked area 

Number of players: 2 teams of at least 2 players 

How long does it last? 15-30 minutes 

How to play:

  • You don’t have to use strict rules but here are the official ones. 
  • The aim of the game is to hit the ball over the net so that the other team can’t return the ball or prevent it from hitting the ground on their side. 
  • Each team has a maximum of three hits to try and return the ball.
  • The game starts when one team serves the ball by hitting it over the net. 
  • The ball must clear the net when it’s served. 
  • A game is played until one team earns 21 points. 

Set the Budget

It’s always good to get a figure in mind first and be clear about how much you want to spend on your outdoor party. Don’t be vague, it’s a recipe for overspending. Set an exact amount of how much you’re willing to spend on your outdoor party from the start. Don’t worry if you’re budget is tight, we’ll go through plenty of ways you can plan a great party without spending a fortune either.

Once you’ve decided on your budget, you’ll need to keep a track of your spending.You can either simply write it all down, or use the computer. We prefer tracking everything electronically on an excel document because it has handy formulas that’ll calculate exactly how much money you’ve spent and how much you’ve got left. So it’s really hard to get carried away and overspend. Plus it’s much harder to misplace than a piece of paper!

Check out our quick budget party planning tips for some great ways to organise an outdoor party without spending a fortune!

Guest List

The next thing you’ll need to consider, is the number of guests you’re inviting. This is dictated mostly by your budget and the amount of space you have available. 

If you have no idea how many guests to invite to your party, think about how much your party will cost per person first. Consider the food and drinks mainly and then go from there. This will give you a realistic number to base your guest list on. Space wise, aiming for a guest list that caters for 10 guests per 100 square feet is usually about right. 

If you need more help deciding, check out our guide on how many guests you should invite to your party for some more things to consider.

Date and Time

Saturday’s are usually easier for most people as they won’t have to rush home from work on a Friday to get ready for the party. But you can host on a Friday if it’s easier for you.

Around 3-4 hours is a good length for a garden party. You can either start mid-afternoon or in the evening, depending on if you’re happy to host some of your party in the dark. 

Consider mealtimes too. If you’re hosting over dinner time, you might need to provide more substantial food than if you were hosting later on. If you’re on a tight budget, it might be worth hosting your party after 7pm so you only need to serve some light snacks. 

Keep the Neighbours Happy

When hosting an party in your garden, it’s likely that the noise level could get quite high and if you’re living in a residential area this could become an issue. 

So if your neighbours aren’t guests at your garden party, make sure they are aware of your plans. If they have any concerns about the noise level, reassure them that you’ll be considerate and that they can contact you on the day if there are any issues. 

How to Deal with Insects

Pests are something you may have to contend with if you’re having a summer garden outdoor event. But there are some ways to deal with insects at your backyard party. 

  • Make sure there is no standing water in your outdoor party area. 
  • Keep all your food covered and consider having fans near them, this will help keep insects away. 
  • You could also have some fly spray available to your guests if the bugs get too annoying.

7 Tips for Being a Great Garden Party Host

  • Plan everything as early as possible and know exactly what the format of the night will be.
  • Have a backup plan. If disaster strikes with the food or entertainment, try and have a plan B ready in your head just in case.
  • Thank your guests for attending.
  • Introduce guests to each other.
  • Offer everyone a drink when they arrive.
  • Keep their drinks topped up if you can.
  • Spend a little time with every guest.

Preparation on the Day

So hopefully you’ve got everything sorted for your outdoor party well in advance. But no matter how organised you are, there’s still a few thing you need to do on the day.

  • Make sure that on the day of your outdoor party you mow the lawn and trim any hedges or plants to neaten up a small outdoor space. 
  • Check that all your furniture is clean and free of cobwebs or any mildew. 
  • Make the table and decorate your party venue.
  • Tie a balloon to the porch so your guests know where to go.
  • Set up any activities.
  • Get your party music ready.
  • Set up your camera and make sure you’ve got enough storage to take plenty of pictures.

What if it Rains on your Outdoor Party?

Hosting an outdoor party is a great way to celebrate any event, but it can be a bit risky. If the weather doesn’t go your way, it can be difficult to host the party you imagined, but it’s definitely still possible.

We’ve created a guide dedicated completely to this topic. So head over to our post on how to host an outdoor party in the rain so you know what to do in the event of bad weather on the day!

So that’s it! Now you have plenty of ideas to plan the perfect outdoor party. We hope you have a great time!

Don’t forget to take a look at our party planning timeline to make sure you’ve got everything covered. It’ll tell you everything you need to do at each stage of the party planning process so you can create an amazing party without any stress or worry about forgetting anything! It even includes a free printable party planning checklist to make sure you stay on track. 

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