Memorial Day is just around the corner. It is time to start firing up the grills and preparing for a group of people to trample your backyard! An abundance of awesome food and cold drinks is an unspoken must. There should be no plate or cup left unfilled. Aside from these elements, here are some ways to create a truly memorable outdoor party.
Give guests something that they can use at the party, but also take home as a memento. For outdoor parties these things can be reusable plastic cups personalized with a family name, design, or event date. Line with a plastic bag and fill with peanuts, candy, or drink mixes. That way guests can remove the goodies inside and use the cup for the party. You can also place personalized matchbooks on the tables for guests to light candles later in the night and then take home with them. These are just a few examples. Use what you know about your guests to gear the party favors toward things that they are interested in.
Give your guests something to do. If the day is a hot one set out inexpensive squirt guns or a tub full of water balloons and let the "kids" have at it. Slip and slides (a.k.a a large sheet of plastic and a water hose) are also fun for kids or adults. (Though alcohol may be required for the second group.) If your party lasts into the evening a bonfire is easy entertainment when marshmallows are provided. If you have access to a lap top and can rent a projector, hang a white sheet on the side of the house or garage and make your own "drive-in movie." Another favorite past time for summer parties that last late into the night is a card game. You can even send guests home with a deck of personalized playing cards.
Create a carefree, easy going, atmosphere. Part of why we love outdoor parties is the ability to get messy and let go of the stress we normally carry around with us. You can do this by providing entertainment, as mentioned above. Don't bring out your heirloom tablecloths or fine china. Stick to plastic or disposable plates and cups. This will help guests feel at ease as well. You can also provide conversation starters cleverly blended into the party supplies. Styrofoam cups or paper napkins with funny quotes are a great way to do this. You could even go one step further and attach labels to the bottom of plates or cups that are printed with silly conversation topics or fun questions to ask the closest person.
It is these fun and personal touches that will make the day and night amazing.
Photo credit: Watermelon from liveearth.org