Backyard Party Zone

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Backyard Party Zone
Dave Johnson

Skip the crafty name cards and create a cool, laid-back party zone in your backyard without all the fuss or expense. With a few creative lighting ideas and some repurposed materials that you already have lying around the house, you can easily transform your outdoor space into an inviting hangout with rustic charm and festive ambiance.

Make Your Own Backyard Bar
Dave Johnson

Make Your Own Backyard Bar

Setting up a backyard bar doesn't require an elaborate construction project. This one was made using two borrowed wine barrels and a slab of wood placed along the top of them. Dress it up with some tea light candles and a floral arrangement for a simply elegant solution that can quickly be dismantled and stored away until the next fete.

Personalized Cocktail Menu
Dave Johnson

Personalized Cocktail Menu

A customized cocktail menu is an easy way to add a lot of personality to your next get-together, and displaying menus on a chalkboard adds a bit of handmade charm. Ask guests to help name the cocktails for a fun, interactive ice breaker.

Beer and Bubbly in a Wheel Barrow
Dave Johnson

Beer and Bubbly in a Wheel Barrow

Ice chests are great, but for an unexpected detail with character, a wheel barrow is even better. Roll this underused item out from the garage, or borrow the neighbor's, and fill it with lots of ice and a mix of beer and bottles that will keep cool all night long. Place it next to the bar area, and guests can help themselves to chilled refreshments.

Sips and Dips
Dave Johnson

Sips and Dips

Welcome guests into a relaxed, make-yourself-at-home environment by setting up an area with uncorked wine bottles and wine glasses next to the appetizers. Guests can help themselves to a drink and nibble from the cheese tray while also reducing a line from building up at the bar area. Mismatched wine glasses and layered fabrics on the table add to the casual and eclectic vibe.

Mix and Match Table Linens
Dave Johnson

Mix and Match Table Linens

Skip the plastic picnic covers without having to bring out the good linens. Dress up tables in the backyard with a variety of color and texture using a mix of household textiles. In this example, a few yards of leftover denim from a sewing project were layered with a rag rug. Placemats, blankets, and even shower curtains draped crosswise can double as table decor. Just be sure you can live with a spill on them if it happens.

Apple Cider Station
Dave Johnson

Apple Cider Station

Setting up multiple refreshment areas helps guests to move around and mingle, and it's a great way to relieve crowding in a small bar area. A cider station is a simple way to serve up a festive treat that can be enjoyed hot or cold, spiked or non-alcoholic. Don't forget to include the proper glassware for hot and cold drinks. Here, there's a tray of mason jars and mismatched coffee mugs that the host has collected over the years, another fun and personalized detail.

Dinner Buffet
Dave Johnson

Dinner Buffet

Rather than assigned seating, keep it casual and set up a buffet at the dinner table. Plates, linen napkins and utensils are stacked and grouped together at one end while a variety of hot and cold dishes in colorful pots and platters are placed along the center.

Wrapped in Burlap
Dave Johnson

Wrapped in Burlap

Burlap is the go-to fabric for any type of event that wants a rich, rustic feel. Its warmth, texture and affordability make it a popular pick, but it's also incredibly versatile. For this backyard bash, a few yards were used to create table runners, and the leftovers were wrapped around flower pots and secured with twine for a colorful pop of table decor.

Add Warmth and Color
Dave Johnson

Add Warmth and Color

Draping colorful blankets at seating areas throughout the backyard is both decorative and practical. Once the sun goes down and guests get chilly, they'll appreciate the forethought. Plus, keeping everyone cozy will also keep the party going.

Roast S'mores by the Fire
Dave Johnson

Roast S'mores by the Fire

When a backyard party goes into the evening hours, guests of all ages will enjoy the fun of making their own s'mores by the fire, and they're perfect as dessert. Provide a basket stocked with the essentials, including marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers, and be sure to include skewers for roasting. For a little something extra, add a jar of peanut butter or Nutella with a couple of spreaders, so guests can get creative.

Make It a Movie Night
Dave Johnson

Make It a Movie Night

Use a dimly lit area of the backyard to show a movie that guests of all ages will enjoy. Set up a projector and show the movie against a wall or flat white sheet. Extra seating is created using hay bales with blankets draped over them, and side tables are simply galvanized beverage tubs turned upside down to make room for the giant bowl of popcorn.

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