Posh Backyard Soiree
Ever since I bought my first house, I’ve loved to entertain family and friends. I enjoy the entire process – from inviting the guests to planning the menu to dreaming up ways to make the evening special.
I’ll be honest. Adding little touches that delight my guests is my favorite part of hosting a party. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s the “extras” that make the night memorable.
Those extras could be almost anything – from unusual cocktail glasses to beautiful flower bouquets to backyard games.
The summer and fall are my absolute favorite times to host a dinner party because everyone loves being outside on a warm night. It’s really the perfect setting for creating a magical evening. Plus, if you time it right, your party backdrop can go from day to night in just a few hours, and you and your guests will likely catch an amazing sunset!
I recently hosted an outdoor dinner party for 10 and decided to take it to the next level by creating a posh backyard soiree – for a memorable evening with family and friends. And I wanted to share a few ways to create your own posh outdoor dinner event.
Of course, I should mention that during these times you’ll want to have lots of hand sanitizer available and talk in advance about social distancing and what that looks like at your dinner party to make sure everyone is comfortable throughout the evening.
Greet Your Guests with Refreshing Options
When my guests first arrived, they were greeted with a beautifully arranged beverage cart that offered a variety of refreshing, pre-dinner options.
The cart had three glass beverage dispensers filled with: water and cucumber slices; lemonade with cut strawberries; and my favorite fruity Sangria. To add visual appeal to the beverage cart, I intentionally made sure each drink choice was a different color – like I said, it’s the extra little details that make a difference!
My other tip is to make the beverage cart a centerpiece by decorating it. I used fresh flowers and added pops of color with baskets of lemons, limes and oranges and glassware in two different shades of blue.
I’ve found that “progressing” an evening is a wonderful way to pace a dinner party.
To do that, I created various “vignettes” around the yard to match the different elements of the night.
When guests first arrived, we gathered in a casual seating area that I had arranged at the end of the pier. There were comfy chairs and pillows and a small table to hold drinks and appetizers.
Once we had time to relax and catch up, it was time for some group games. It’s fun to create a display of fun outdoor games so everyone can decide what activity piques their interest – Jumbo Jenga, Molkky Original Game (a popular European lawn game), lawn darts, Kube (Viking inspired tossing game), Spike Ball and others. I knew I wanted to offer something for everyone, so I borrowed some of the games from friends.
After a few rounds of games, it was time for dinner…
Make Your Dining Space Special
We have a pergola in our backyard and I knew that would be the centerpiece of the evening so I got to work “dressing it up.”
To create a spectacular dining space, I literally worked my way from the ground up. I started by adding an area rug from Surya . The one I choose is colorful, durable, great for pets and versatile since it’s an indoor/outdoor rug.
For my table, I headed to Pinterest for inspiration. I quickly noticed “layering” was the way to create the look I wanted.
I began with a tablecloth, added decorative gold chargers , stacked my dinnerware and draped a cloth napkin underneath it all.
I spent a lot of time looking at dinnerware – once I started looking I couldn’t seem to stop! – and loved exploring all the different options that are available. Crate & Barrel had some fun Melamine sets, but in the end, I chose a 16-piece set of Fortessa Scott Living Modern in marine blue from Kohl’s (I wanted a bright color to add a “pop” to my tablescape). I also tapped Target for a very affordable set of champagne-colored stainless steel silverware. To tie all the colors together, I went back to Crate & Barrel and found Daphne cloth napkins.
Glassware can really add sparkle to a table so I used a combination of champagne, wine and water glasses. Champagne makes the night special so I always like to start with that and then offer a choice of either a red or white wine during dinner. There’s something about a champagne bottle chilling in an ice bucket to make my guests smile and I love seeing that! For those who prefer not to drink, and those not old enough to drink, I always have “soft” or NA beverages available.
My final touch was adding a chandelier from Wayfair above the table. It’s a statement piece that brings indoor glamour to the outdoors.
Don’t forget the importance of lighting (I love lanterns and jar candles), fresh cut flowers, pillows and side tables. I like to offer each of my guests an extra pillow for their chair to make sure they’re comfy and a soft lap blanket in case the night gets cool. I’ve found great 100% cotton throws from the Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia line at Target.
Delight the Senses During Dinner
For my party, I worked with Loulou Guolee owner of Carrot Bomb Caterer , a full-service caterer who’s dedicated to using local and organic ingredients. Her food tastes amazing and looks exquisite. The appetizer board is definitely a treat for the senses – eyes, nose and mouth
I also like to share a printed menu with my guests in advance. I’ve found I can create another “point of interest” by grouping the menu with décor elements like small plants in interesting pots.
Now…on to dinner. Here is the menu LouLou and I created.
Posh Background SoireeAppetizersA beautiful charcuterie, fromage and crudite board
with artisan meats, cheeses, fruits, artichokes,olives, hummus, vegetables, crackers and breads-Sweet and spicy curried chicken crostiniwith dried fruits and nuts
SaladArugula, sun-dried fig, prosciutto,
fresh mozzarella, purple basil, 18 year balsamic
Chilled SoupStrawberry white wine soup, frozen wild blueberries
Main CourseGrilled and chilled filet mignon and house hot smoked salmon, chimichurri, purple potatoes, fired charred summer squash, zucchini, whole baby bells, tri color tomatoes, brined feta
DessertsPoached Peach au Vin with lavender honey cream
-Simma’s original cheesecake with a scrumptiouschocolate cake bottom, a thin layer of raspberry fillingand a blanket of chocolate ganache
As you can see, the dessert table was absolutely fabulous and something my guests talked about for days afterwards.
And, while we were too full, you can always serve after-dinner drinks. I personally like RumChata because it’s made with globally sourced ingredients by Midwest Custom Bottling Company, a Wisconsin company!
Plan the Final Touch
Rather than calling it a night after dinner, we extended our time together by gathering around our fire pit (another vignette we had created). Conversations continued and we were able to enjoy every single moment of a beautiful Wisconsin evening.
I’ve found that having a final gathering after dinner is a lovely way to linger a bit longer with family and friends who you truly love spending time with.
Co-Founder and Super Host
Rose is the Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Poshabodes who also loves to
bring together family and friends by hosting amazing get togethers.
You can reach Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org