Backyard Entertaining

Summon your most festive friends, and embrace your primal urge to cook over an open flame  barbecue season is now upon us.

We’re so excited to give you some backyard party set up ideas to prepare for backyard entertaining season and make your soiree top-notch. Preparation is everything.

If a glimpse beyond your back door reveals a dilapidated wicker couch and leaves floating across a cloudy pool, then now is a good time to reevaluate your outdoor decor. Refurbish as needed, but resist the impulse to do a dramatic overhaul. Just make sure that you have sufficient lighting and seating before hosting guests.

The day before your event, sort out your pest control needs and prep your menu. The morning of your event, mix your cocktails, arrange your charcuterie and set up your patio games.

As your guests arrive, be on the lookout for an introverted but detail-oriented individual who is comfortable around fire, and recruit him or her to be your grill master so you can be free to mingle unfettered.

backyard party set up ideas

Backyard Party Set Up Ideas: Don’t Let Flies and Mosquitos Ruin Your Festivities

Several hours before your guests arrive, check on your pest control situation. Flies and mosquitoes have a way of showing up unannounced, and there’s nothing worse than seeing your friends slapping at bugs or scratching welts on their arms and legs.

Place citronella candles strategically around the perimeter of your patio, and spray a non-toxic insect repellent on wood and fabric surfaces (or you can make one yourself using a blend of essential oils.) Pair the candles with these candle holders for a luxe feel.

backyard party set up ideas

John-Richard Collection European Storm Globe, neimanmarcus.com; John-Richard Collection Branch Candle Holder, neimanmarcus.com

Place a child-safe repellent, anti-itch spray and sunscreen on a side table so guests can help themselves as needed.  And just in case you do get a pesky bite, Benadryl spray offers trusted relief.

backyard party set up ideas

Rocky Mountain Kids Sunscreen Lotion – Gallon with Pump, SPF 50 – Oxybenzone Free, No Octinoxate, Gluten Free, amazon.com

Backyard Party Set Up Ideas: Prep Your Food In Advance For When It’s Time To Party

backyard party set up ideas

Don’t goad yourself into thinking that you’ll have time to prepare your side dishes after the guests arrive, while the meat is grilling. You’ll inevitably end up cornered by a friend with a salacious story to tell, and your side dishes won’t make it to the table until it’s time for dessert.

Preparing your marinated salads a day in advance gives the flavors time to meld, but don’t dress your green salad until just before serving or you’ll end up with a wilted mess. Depending on the eating habits of your guests (Are there vegans among you?), it’s a good idea to prepare several different salads in advance to keep things simple at mealtime.

A salad spread that includes classics like Pasta Salad and Potato Salad, and healthy options like Tabbouleh, Black Eyed Peas and a Green Salad will give the omnivores among you plenty of options, and will also accommodate those who are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo.

If you’re serving chicken, a 24-hour marinade in the refrigerator is optimal. Be sure there is gas for the grill (or charcoal), and have your tools and meat platter ready to go. If you’re serving burgers and hotdogs, have ample buns and condiments on hand so you don’t have to run to the store during the party.

backyard party set up ideas

All-Clad Stainless Steel 4-Piece BBQ Tool Set, bloomingdales.com

Backyard Party Set Up Ideas: The Morning of the Party

Before your first guest arrives, you should have upbeat music playing, a buffet table set up in the shade with room for your serving dishes and disposable cutlery, napkins and plates. Be sure to set out an attractive cheese and charcuterie tray so early arrivals can snack while they’re waiting for dinner.

backyard party set up ideas

Arteriors Eileen Tray, neimanmarcus.com

An ample cooler with a selection of craft beers and a few pitchers filled with premade signature cocktails are enough to keep the conversation flowing without a rapid descent into bacchanalia. Also, prepare a large dispenser filled with iced water and slices of fresh cucumbers so your guests can stay hydrated throughout the day.

backyard party set up ideas

Sertodo Copper Niagara Water Dispenser, neimanmarcus.com

Backyard Party Set Up Ideas: Let the Games Begin

backyard party set up ideas

After the guests have eaten, while the plates are being cleared, it’s a good time to get active. A pick-up game of soccer or a selection of backyard games gives guests an easy pretext for mingling. Consider your available terrain and set up the games within view of the dining area, but outside the pathway of diners.

backyard party set up ideas

Franklin Sports Bocce Ball Set, amazon.com; Franklin Sports 6 Player Croquet Set, amazon.com; American Legend Charleston Bristle Dartboard Cabinet Set, amazon.com; Prima Sol Horseshoe Game Set, amazon.com

Bocce should be played on a sandy or grassy stretch that is at least 30 feet long.

Horseshoes must be set up in a corner with no danger of an outside player walking into a throw.

Ideally, a croquet court should be 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, but you can scale down.

For darts, there should be about eight feet between the toeline and the board.

While your guests are tallying their scores, set out a giant bowl of Banana Pudding (recipe below) and a tray of fresh fruit. Then turn the music up, and summon everyone to the dance floor.  The calendar tells us that summer is as long as the other three seasons, but it always feels so much shorter, so we’ve got to enjoy every minute of it.

Backyard Party Set Up Ideas: Recipes to get cooking!

Recipe: Chicken Marinade

Recipe: Chicken Marinade

This chicken marinade is perfect for the holiday weekend – and most of the ingredients are already in your pantry.

Ingredients

12 bone-in Chicken Thighs

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

6 Cloves of Garlic, Minced

4 T Dried Parsley Flakes

4 T Dijon Mustard

4 T Honey, Agave or Maple Syrup

2 T Onion Powder

3 T Turmeric Powder

1 T Dried Oregano

1 T Dried Thyme

1 T Cumin Powder

1 T Ground Coriander

1 T Dried Mint Leaves

1 T Paprika

1 T Sriracha Sauce

1 T Dried Rosemary

1 T Dried Cilantro

1 T Crushed Red Pepper

1 t Tibetan Sea Salt

1 t Fresh Ground Pepper

Preparation

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Rinse the chicken thighs in cool water and dry with paper towels. Immerse the chicken thighs in the marinade, cover and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight. When cooking marinated chicken on a grill, be careful of sputtering as the hot liquid hits the heat source.

 

Recipe: Macaroni Salad

Recipe: Macaroni Salad

This classic side dish is perfect for an outdoor barbecue or day on the beach for Memorial Day.

Ingredients

1 Pound Elbow Macaroni

4 Stalks Celery, diced

2 Small Carrots, diced

2 Hard Boiled Eggs, diced

1 Bell Pepper, diced

1 Small Red Onion, diced

1 cup Mayonnaise (or more to taste)

3 T Rice Vinegar

2 T Ground Turmeric

2 T Dijon Mustard

2 T Pickle Relish

1 T Honey, Agave or Maple Syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Rinse and allow to cool in a large bowl.

Mince celery, carrots, eggs, pepper, and onion. A smaller mince will be more attractive to the finished look and texture of the salad. Combined the minced ingredients with the macaroni in the large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, turmeric, mustard, relish, agave and salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the large bowl with the macaroni and vegetables. Mix well.

Allow to sit overnight (refrigerated) so the macaroni can fully absorb the flavors of the dressing.

 

Recipe: Potato Salad

Recipe: Potato Salad

No barbecue or picnic is complete without a big bowl of homemade potato salad.

Ingredients

4 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled cubed, and boiled until tender (about 10 minutes)

2 T Rice Vinegar

2 Ribs Celery, finely diced

1 Small Red Onion, finely diced

2 T Relish

½ cup Mayonnaise

1 T Dijon Mustard

2 Hard Boiled Eggs, diced

2 T Dried Parsley Leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Place warm potatoes in a large bowl and allow to cool. Combine remaining ingredients and gently toss so as to not crush the potato chunks. Allow to sit overnight (refrigerated) so the flavors can properly meld.

Middle Eastern Tabbouleh

Recipe: Tabbouleh

Bring some Middle Eastern flavor to the barbecue with this classic recipe.

Ingredients

½ cup Medium-Coarse Bulgur Wheat (for gluten free: substitute quiona)

1 cup Boiling Water

1 pint Grape Tomatoes (cut in half)

1 Bunch Fresh Parsley, diced

10 Fresh Mint Leaves, finely diced

1 Bunch Scallions (with the ends removed), finely diced

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

1 T Honey, Agave or Maple Cider Vinegar

¼ t Ground Allspice

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

In a large bowl, pour boiling water over the bulgur, cover and allow the mixture to sit for an hour until it is cool and all of the liquid has been absorbed by the grains.

Add the tomatoes, parsley, mint, and scallions. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, sweetener, allspice, and salt and pepper. Mix the dressing into the salad.

Allow to sit overnight, refrigerated so the flavors can properly meld.

Black Eyed Peas Salad

Recipe: Black Eyed Peas Salad

A lighter, healthier option than potato or macaroni salad, this recipe is still packed with flavor.

Ingredients

3 cups Black Eyed Peas, cooked, rinsed and drained

½ cup Red Onion, Diced

1 Bell Pepper, Diced

3 T Dried Oregano

3 T Dried Parsley

Salt and Pepper to Taste

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

2 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1 T Honey, Agave or Maple Syrup

Preparation

Combine the black eyed peas, onion, pepper, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Place the oil, lime juice, garlic and sweetener in a small jar with a cover and shake until fully combined. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss gently.

Make at least one day in advance so the flavors can properly meld.

 

Banana Pudding

Recipe: Banana Pudding

Southern, sweet and smooth – the perfect dessert for your barbecue.

Ingredients

1 11-oz. Box of Nabisco Nilla Wafers (or similar vanilla cookies)

1  3.4 oz Box of Jello Instant Pudding Mix

1  14 oz. Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 Pint of Heavy Cream

4 Medium sized ripe bananas, peeled and cut into silver dollars

1 Cup Cold Water

Preparation

Pour the Nilla Wafers into a blender or food processor, and pulse until they turn to a course powder.

Pour the heavy cream into a medium bowl, and beat until it forms soft peaks. Add the pudding mix, condensed milk, and a cup of water and to the cream and blend until creamy.

In a large bowl, (preferably transparent glass) assemble the cookie crumbs, bananas, and cream mix in small layers until all of the ingredients are used up, and cover the top layer with cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate overnight before serving to allow the flavors to properly meld.

Mojitos by the Pitcher

Recipe: Mojitos By The Pitcher

Mojitos are the classic summer drink to keep cool. Making a pitcher can keep your guests from getting parched.

Ingredients

2 cups Rum

2 cups Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

1 ½ cups Agave Syrup (or more to taste)

1 bunch of mint leaves, rinsed and dried.

2 cups Sparkling Water

Preparation

Combine Rum, Lime Juice, Agave and Mint leaves in a pitcher, and muddle the leaves with a spoon or a pestle. Stir well. Adjust sweetness for personal preference. Combine with sparkling water and serve.

 

Margaritas by the pitcher

Recipe: Margaritas by the Pitcher

Everyone knows you can’t have just one margarita. Keep the party going with this quick and easy way to make them in bulk.

Ingredients

3 cups Tequila

2 cups Triple Sec

1 cup Fresh Squeezed Lime juice

½ cup Agave Syrup

Preparation

Combine the ingredients and serve inside salted glasses with a lime wedge.

 

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