Spring into entertaining mode with these 6 tips

Vintage metal buckets and trays make a practical and pleasing presentation for an outdoor bar section. PHOTO: Christine Roberts

Spring has sprung and it’s time to start getting ready for patio season. Outdoor entertaining is so fun and such a great way to celebrate the summer.

When you are setting up your backyard, deck, balcony or any outdoor space, follow the same principles you would with your indoor entertaining space.

I like to set things up the same way I do when I design an event space. Divide your space into stations according to their functions and you will be able to entertain with ease.

Set up an outdoor bar area.

This can be made from anything. A simple table, no matter how small, can easily hold glasses, mix, ice bucket and all the fixings for your cocktails. Invest in a great looking cooler (vintage metal ones are perfect for this) and fill with ice. It can sit on the ground beside the bar table and look great while keeping your beverages chilled and easily accessible.

Plan an area for food.

For me, outdoor entertaining means keeping things easy, so I love to set up a main buffet area where people can graze or fill a plate. Use interesting vessels like vintage metal sap buckets, rustic wood planks, wood chargers and mason jars – they are all super practical and can handle the outdoors. Flowers and plenty of candles are a must.

Set up a lounge area.

Another place to invest is in some good durable outdoor seating. If you choose wood, be sure to treat it regularly to maintain its beauty and lifespan. Other great options are resin and wicker furniture that has style but will be OK to stay outdoors in all weather. Cushions in outdoor fabric are best to withstand the sun without fading, but you can layer in any throw or accent pillows while you are outside. Just be sure to bring all the fabric pieces indoors or into a shed to protect against rain. Even exterior cushions should be put away while not in use. Adding in a rug in a great pattern is another way to add some colour and style. There are tons of great options now in outdoor carpets.

Add in a green space.

Even if you aren’t a green thumb (ahem, me), you can plant some greenery or potted flowers in a collection of interesting containers for effect. Use planters in all shapes and sizes. Varying the heights, and having some ivy or trailing plants cascade from the taller containers adds texture and keeps it interesting. Use a small table or two to help you gain some height. An old wooden stepladder is perfect for this. Just place some potted plants on each of the steps for instant ‘Wow’. You can mix and match or keep them all the same colour/style/material – play around with it and have some fun. This “garden” space will add some life and vibrancy to your patio space or deck. The containers could also hold herbs that you can pick from for your meals, or add in some potted vegetable plants for an edible garden that is as great to look at as it is to pick from.

Adding music is essential for great ambiance.

Either have outdoor speakers installed, or choose from the many options of portable speakers/sound systems. I love the Sonos system that we control from an app on our phone that accesses playlists from any music platform.

Lighting is key to the mood.

Hanging or table lanterns or candles add a beautiful glow. Last year, I invested in some large strands of the outdoor vintage-look edison bulbs – they are seriously amazing. I strung them between our house and across the yard amongst the trees and I left them up all season. They illuminated the backyard with just the right amount of light and gave such a great atmosphere to the area.

Treat your outdoor space like your indoor space and get out and enjoy the summer while it’s here – it’s too short not to!



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