4 tips for a party friendly patio

Casual parties are often outside, or else they eventually spill outside - if you have a party friendly patio. Being a good hostess is not just about having people over (though it is about that, too).

Being a good hostess is really about making everyone - from drop-in guests to your kids' sleepover friends to your big New Year's Eve Party people - feel both special and at home.

Think about what you do on your patio or deck, and then arrange the furniture so that you can do it more easily and efficiently.

  1  patio cleaning prep.

The best thing about outdoor entertaining is that you don't have to worry about cobwebs. Hey, it's all a part of nature, right?  

But what you can and should do in advance of outdoor entertaining is to make sure your patio and all the patio furniture is clean and artfully arranged. You can do this by:

  • Regularly washing off glass tables. 
  • Making sure the umbrella is operational. 
  • Putting out enough chairs so that people can rest somewhere.
  • Make sure the grill is clean and that you have plenty of charcoal or propane.

  2  creating an adult party area.

This part's a breeze. All you need are a table and some comfy chairs. This is not the place to scrimp. Sink-in-and-stay-a-spell kind of comfortable chairs will make your moderate investment pay off big time.

Top it all off with an umbrella for shade, and your party friendly patio is open for business. Optional furniture to consider includes:

  • A storage chest for adult toys and stuff you always need outside - such as sunscreen, hats, and bug spray;
  • Folding tables by the grill for serving and cooking;
  • An ice chest would also be nice. 

Steaks, anyone?

  3  creating a patio kids zone.

For safety's sake, set up the play area away from the grill and the table. You might even want to make the kids their own little outdoor room delineated by container plants. 

Tips for a kid-friendly patio:

  • Keep favorite toys in a wheeled container or a wagon so kids can roll them outside to play. 
  • Consider a deck storage chest for kids to use as a toy box. 
  • Protection from the sun with a "ceiling"(umbrella or awning),
  •  A "floor" (a quilt, splat-mat, or old blanket), and 
  • "Walls" (some sort of barrier such as container plants, toy chests, or fences) that will keep them from wandering off. (Or at least slow them down.) The older kids might want more privacy, but keep the little ones in view.

  4  corral clutter in the form of plastic outdoor toys.

Outdoor toys tend to be big - very big. It takes only a few gifts from the grandparents to seriously junk up the yard. Definitely not party friendly.

Unless you're running a day care, set limits on how much plastic you want in your yard.

Give the kids one area of the patio or yard as their play area, and confine plastic toys there.

Then you'll have unobstructed areas to garden, entertain, and just plain relax. You deserve a corner of paradise, too.

Help the kids keep their area tidy by limiting the number of toys that can be out at any given time, just as you do indoors.

Just because your kids have more room outside doesn't mean they can play with 10 toys at one time.

And the sheer quantity of toys strewn about also reduces the odds that they will actually pick them all up at the end of the day. Set down these guidelines, and do a little advance party planning work outside, and your patio is ready.

Bring on the party!

› Party Friendly Patio Tips


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