Budget-Friendly Tricks to Help You Throw the Best Outdoor Parties
When summer comes around, there’s no better place to spend those warm starry evenings or sunny Sunday brunches than your own backyard. If you love to entertain, a functional and attractive outdoor space is key to throwing the best parties on the block. But if your current situation is a little drab, it’s easy to get your backyard or patio into tip-top shape without spending a fortune. From budget-friendly patio furniture to festive DIYs that will wow your guests, you don’t have to go broke to create the perfect outdoor space for the season.
Upgrade Your Gear
We think one of the most important elements of a stellar outdoor party is a perfectly cooked steak or hot dog. If you’re still using that rusty grill from decades ago, it’s definitely time to buy a new one. Before you make a purchase, decide what type of grill suits your needs best. A gas grill, like a Weber, is the most popular kind on the market because it’s easy to light, easy to use and can cook nearly everything without much cleanup.
Once you have the grill, consider your seating options. If you’re hosting a lot of dinner parties, a 6-seat patio table is crucial to ensuring your guests are comfortable and have room to mingle. If you plan to throw more relaxed, cocktail-style get-togethers, an all-weather wicker outdoor couch may be what you’re looking for. Whatever your needs, your patio furniture should be equally inviting and relaxing for your guests.
Add Some Color and Texture
Nothing screams “summer” more than bright, festive colors and patterns. The great thing about a new patio set is that most outdoor furniture is already chic and trendy, but subtle enough to allow for your own personal touch. Adding a gorgeous outdoor rug made of UV-resistant fabric is an affordable way to give your outdoor space a makeover without spending a lot of dough. This is also a great way to camouflage a concrete patio or patch of grass that could use a little TLC. Whether you have a huge outdoor couch or a couple of patio chairs, some weatherproof throw pillows can brighten up you space and show off a bit of your personality. Greenery and floral patterns are also currently on-trend in a big way, and look great with nearly every patio set.
Every good host knows that lighting is your best friend when it comes to setting the perfect mood for a dinner party. Adding a few mason jars filled with simple white votive candles can serve as a simple, affordable centerpiece that works outdoors. If you want to take your ambiance to the next level, this DIY origami string light adds a warm, romantic glow to your patio. All you need to recreate this trend-forward look is a set of white Christmas lights you probably already have hanging around your house (Pro tips: Use LED lights if you are worried about fire hazard and be sure to measure the space you want to cover and add a few inches so the lights can drape romantically) and some paper. Using square pieces of paper in the color of your choice (we used 8.5” by 8.5”), simply fold to create a hollow cube. Once you’ve made enough boxes, simply slip over each light bulb—and voilà.
DIY a Cooler Cooler
Sure, your old cooler is fine for camping, but it doesn’t really scream “let’s party” the way this awesome wooden cooler bench does. A standing cooler is a great way to give your guests easy-to-access drinks in the middle of the action, rather than trekking back inside to the fridge. Though the finish product looks professional, anyone with a DIY-thumb can recreate it with a few simple parts and tools.
To get started, you’ll need the following materials. Most wood pieces can be cut to exact sizes at your local Lowes to make the DIY a little easier:
- One ¾” piece of plywood cut to 14” by 48”
- Four 4” by 4” leg posts (we used cedar) cut to 23 3/4”
- Two 1” by 6” by 49 1/2” boards (we used Eastern white pine)
- Two 1” by 6” by 14” boards (Eastern white pine)
- One 1” by 4” by 49 1/2” boards (Eastern white pine)
- Two 1” by 4” by 14” boards (Eastern white pine)
- Four 2 ½” wood screws
- Nail gun and nails
- Wood paint or stain
- Clear Flex Seal
The large piece of plywood serves as the base of the shallow box for your cooler. Using 2 ½” wood screws, drill each of your four leg posts into each corner of your plywood. Then, using your four pieces of 1” by 6” boards, assemble a box with all four sizes. Use a braided nail gun to attach each piece to the plywood securely. Using your 1” by 4” boards, add a lower trim and attach to the leg posts. Secure with nails. Finish it off by painting or staining with your choice of color, and add a coat of clear Flex Seal to the inside of the box to protect the wood from ice and water.
Add Some Greenery
Just because you’re outside, that doesn’t mean your patio couldn’t benefit from even more plant life. Whether your garden could use a facelift or you just want to add a pop of color, this rustic planter makes the perfect summer centerpiece. Succulents are wonderful outdoor plants because they’re easy to care for and thrive in the sun. Fill a planter with unique succulents and surround them with fresh flowers in any bright, summery color you can imagine for an easy table piece that looks much more expensive that it is.
If you want to DIY the perfect planter, all you need is:
- One 1” by 8” by 40” Eastern white pine board
- Two 1” by 4” by 40” boards
- Two 1” by 4” by 6” boards
- Wood stain
- Nails and a nail gun
Starting with your 1” by 8” by 40” board, construct a box with two 1” by 4” by 40” boards on each side and two 1” by 4” by 6” boards on each end. Use a braided nail gun to attach (you can also use a screw, but be sure to create a pilot hole first). Finish off with a wood stain or waterproof paint of your choice and fill with beautiful, in-season flowers and succulents.
Involve Your Guests in Dinner
If you want to throw a party your guests will rave about all year long, try a create-your-own dinner approach. From a DIY s'mores station to the ultimate taco bar, there are endless ways to set up fun, tasty food displays that will bring out the child in all your guests. Our favorite dinner idea of the moment is a make-your-own pizza station that allows your guests to get wild and creative with their food. Set up a cute, themed table with everything they need from the crust (opt for a premade crust rather than fresh dough to keep things moving) to pepperoni to grilled chicken. Toss the finish product on the grill (yes, you can grill pizza!) and serve with fresh herbs like basil, oregano and rosemary from your gorgeous hanging garden.
Create a Hanging Garden
If you’re short on garden space (or you just want to add some visual interest to your patio), a hanging garden is a modern way to display and grow herbs and small plants. Not only will you impress your guests with your green thumb, a hanging garden is an easy way to decorate patio walls or siding.
To recreate this fun DIY, all you need is:
- 1” by 8” by 35” Eastern white pine board
- Three 6” clay flower pots
- 5” hole saw
- Rope (we like coconut rope)
- Wood stain or paint
On your 35” board, make drill marks in the center at 7 ½”, 17 ½” and 27 ½”. Using your 5” hole saw, drill three holes at each point (these will hug your clay pots). Once you’ve sawed and ensured a tight fit for the pots, drill a hole 1” away from each corner to run the rope through. Tie knots to secure. Add a coat of wood stain or paint to seal it up, add herbs and hang securely.
Note: The solid throw pillows and table runner in the video was not purchased at Lowe’s.