In this ultimate guide to backyard entertaining, we’ll share tips, ideas, and inspiration to help you create unforgettable outdoor experiences right in your own backyard.
There’s No Place Like Home
Nothing can top the joy of hosting a gathering in your own backyard. Let’s face it, grilling is always more fun when you’re doing it for friends and family.
And what better place than home? It’s cost-effective, cozy, and inviting! It’s also a great way to take advantage of the space you already have. And creating a backyard entertainment area is simpler than you think!
Let’s Party, Y’all!
The possibilities for entertaining in your own backyard are endless. Here are a few grill-friendly celebrations you might enjoy with loved ones:
- Birthday parties
- Church small group gathering
- Neighborhood gatherings
- Anniversary parties
- Bridal showers
- Baby showers
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply hanging out on a gorgeous day with family and friends, backyard entertaining is best. Where else can you experience a relaxed and personal atmosphere? No restaurant or event venue could even come close to the comfort of home. And nothing says “welcome” like an outdoor entertainment space.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help make your backyard event the best it can be.
Create Your Environment
A comfortable environment is key! Here are some suggestions for how to make your backyard the best it can be for incoming family and friends:
Create a Fun Dining Area
It doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple picnic table will do. You can always dress it up with tablecloth, napkins, and fun serving utensils.
A patio umbrella is important on sunny days, to offer shade for your guests.
Eating outdoors is especially fun on summer nights. Talk about cozy and inviting!
You don’t have to have the perfect backyard. Even if you have a small space, you can make it work with the right decor.
Create a Comfy Seating Area
It’s so fun to arrange comfortable outdoor seating area options for your guests. If you don’t already have patio furniture, search places like Facebook marketplace or local resale shops for outdoor sofas, chairs, and cushions.
An outdoor rug is another great addition. It centers the area and can add a pop of color. And it really makes the area feel more like an outdoor living space and provides a great focal point.
The goal here is to make sure you’ve got enough seating for all your guests to chill and visit during your outdoor gatherings. (And eat, of course! If you’re serving up those St. Louis ribs you want them to have a cozy place to eat them!)
There’s something so fun about adding lights to your backyard event. Whether they’re string lights, twinkle lights, lanterns, tiki torches, or candles, lighting sets the mood as the sun goes down. Talk about a warm and inviting environment! You can create a cozy outdoor oasis with just a few warm lights (like twinkling lights or fairy lights).
Let’s set this party to music! Create a playlist and deejay your own event. (Or assign one of the older kids the role of deejay!) Nothing says “party” like great music at an outdoor party.
Food and Drink
Obviously, it’s all about the grill, (at least to us). A great party starts with great food, like our delicious Breakfast Fatty or St. Louis Ribs. To make those, you need a good grill. Here are a few of our recommendations:
Outdoor Kitchen or Grill
If you’ve got the space (and resources), you’ll want to consider installing an outdoor kitchen or grill area. There’s something so fun about cooking outdoors, especially on party days. One added bonus: Cooking outside keeps the heat out of your house on hot days.
It’s fun to have a designated area for drinks. Whether you’re offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic, you’ll want a wide variety to suit the preferences of your guests. You’ll want to keep these drinks in ice-filled buckets (or a portable cooler, if you have one). There are so many fun ideas for how to keep your drinks on ice.
Check out this amazing post from The Cooking Channel on How to Keep Drinks Cold Outside. (The gallery of photos is loaded with fun and creative ideas!)
Create a Unique and Diverse Menu
Anyone can throw hot dogs or burgers on the grill, but if you really want people to remember your event, create a diverse menu that they won’t soon forget. (And remember to keep dietary preferences in mind. You’ll probably have folks attending who are gluten-free, or have specific allergies.)
With that in mind, offer a variety of appetizer options, main courses, and desserts. You might also give thought to adding finger foods if you’re eating outdoors. (Hey, messy is okay outside! Just hose ’em down when you’re done!)
Outdoor Entertaining Spaces
If you’ve got a large enough yard you can take advantage of the space by creating separate areas (individualized backyard spaces) for things like an outdoor bar, outdoor speakers, a makeshift dance floor, or other fun outdoor entertainment spaces.
Other ideas might include water features, swings, or a little koi pond.
If you happen to have a hot tub you will enjoy gathering there with friends and family. The point is, you can divide up your space for entertaining with different areas for the activities with easy access to each.
If you want to take this party over the top, offer some fun games and activities. Get creative! Think of things the older ones and younger ones can all enjoy together. Here are a few suggestions:
Cornhole, anyone? What about badminton? Or bocce ball? You can keep your guests entertained and active at this outdoor event if you plan ahead. Outdoor games are so much fun!
Chilly day? No problem. A fire pit can serve as both a heat source and a gathering point. And it doesn’t have to be fancy, y’all. The guests won’t care if you’ve got tree stumps as seats and a makeshift pit. Just hand ’em marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers to make their own s’mores and they’ll be happy.
Outdoor Movie Night
What a fun idea! Pop some popcorn and use your portable projector and screen for a fun outdoor movie night.
Other games could include card games, charades, or any number of fun games for all ages.
Ambiance and Decor
It’s so fun to “fancy up” your outdoor dining space. You can even use outdoor-friendly tableware and linens to add a touch of elegance to picnic tables (or even plastic folding tables you purchase from your local supercenter). Use Floral arrangements or potted plants as centerpieces, or other outdoor decor. Get creative if you like: use something themed to the party. Speaking of themes. . .
Theme and Color Scheme
Take your guests to Hawaii. Or Tahiti! Or the Wild, Wild, West. The possibilities are endless when you consider a theme for your backyard party.
Just be sure to coordinate your decor and invitations accordingly. It’s fun to use a consistent color scheme to pull things together (and you might be surprised at what you already have on hand that might work). Don’t forget to coordinate things like lighting and tablecloths!
Cushions and Throws
Keep your guests comfortable with cushions and throws on seating areas. This is especially important on chilly days or for evening gatherings when the night air is nippy.
Safety and Comfort
This is something many people overlook. Prep the area ahead of time to get rid of ants, flies, mosquitoes, and so on. Make sure you’ve got insect repellent candles or citronella torches to keep bugs at bay during the party. (The flies might still turn up for a nibble of your delicious food but at least your guests will know you tried!)
You’re going to want to have a backup plan in case of bad weather. If bringing your guests indoors isn’t an option, then have a gazebo or tent so you have shelter from unexpected rain or strong sun. Your garage is also an option for a grilling party.
A Party they Won’t Soon Forget!
That’s the goal here, after all! Backyard entertaining is all about creating cherished memories with loved ones.
You set the scene by offering yummy food and drinks, providing clever entertainment, and paying attention to the finer details. No one will ever forget the night they played cornhole in your backyard or toasted marshmallows around the campfire while singing All my Exes Live in Texas.
You get the idea: you can host a backyard gathering that everyone will remember. The important thing is to let your imagination run wild as you come up with ideas. Then transform your outdoor space into a space where guests can have fun, relax, and connect.
With the right planning, your very own backyard can become the ultimate entertaining destination!
Save some of our photos to Pinterest! (We’ve got a lot to choose from.)
About the Man Behind the Grill
Zach Morrow was born and raised in Texas and has always had a passion for great barbecue.
He’s at home behind the grill and loves to feed his friends and family home-cooked favorites as often as he can.
Zach especially loves trying new things and is excited to produce recipes like this one for Backyard Texas Grill.