Whether you’re entertaining a few guests or dozens, family or friends, kids or adults, make this summer’s soirée a backyard barbecue. This format is ideal for all kinds of events: reunions, block parties, summer birthdays, post-game celebrations, holidays and even impromptu get-togethers.
Although backyard barbecues have a reputation for being pretty casual, these décor tips will help you design the party that’s the hit of the summer.
Tables are a key element in the décor of your backyard barbecue because guests will spend a lot of time eating, drinking and mingling at them. To ensure that your table looks fabulous and welcoming, consider the advice of Ricky Eisen, a New York caterer, event planner and founder of Between the Bread. “To give your table a decorated look, layer the tablecloths,” she says. “Mix colors, textures and sizes. I especially like tablecloths that have fringes. Mix and match lanterns to give further complexity to the table. If you are using a wooden table, don’t cover it entirely. Let some of the wood show.”
To further ensure that your tables look great, you’ll want to embellish them with colorful, stylish centerpieces. An easy centerpiece to create is to place flowers that complement your backyard barbecue’s color scheme into peanut buckets or colorful pails. You could also adorn tables with outdoor lanterns and tea lights.
Another option is to fill centerpieces with fruit, which is a cost-effective alternative to flowers, according to Eisen. “Use fresh fruit such as pineapple, melon and plums,” she notes. “Find tree bark as the anchor to the center of the table, add twigs and leafy branches from the garden and you can have a great centerpiece, most of which can be eaten later.”
If you expect to entertain guests well after the sun goes down, plan for adequate lighting. Teri Gault, CEO of TheGroceryGame.com, suggests lining your walkway with homemade lanterns to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. “This is a cheap and easy way to welcome guests. Paper bags can be very inexpensive at the grocery store. Fill the bags with sand and a little tea light candle.”
She also recommends brightening your backyard patio or porch. “By adding colorful citronella candles, you have a playful atmosphere that is completely bug-free. Another suggestion is to pick up tiki torches that you can stick into the ground. They create a very summery look while, again, keeping away the bugs,” she explains.
You may think that a backyard barbecue is a theme itself, but there are a variety of additional themes that can set your summer soirée apart from the rest of the neighborhood.
Ebony Coston, an event planner at California Sol Creations, recommends a “let’s go the movies” theme. “Invite guests over for a little movie trivia, snacks and an outdoor movie on an inflatable movie screen,” she explains.
To decorate for this kind of barbecue or cookout, Coston encourages you to use a color scheme of red, black and gold. “Keep centerpieces simple and fun with chalkboard director boards with facts about the featured movie of the evening. Add gold placemats in the shapes of stars. Hang twinkle lights in trees and use candles for extra lighting,” she adds.
If your guests include children, you may want to opt for a carnival theme. For décor Coston suggests a color scheme of reds, yellows, blues and greens. She also recommends decorating each table in a different color and hanging string lights and paper lanterns in fun shapes for an extra pop of color. She says you can also “create table photo stations and place cameras on guest tables, along with red noses, hats, glasses and oversized bows where guests can take fun photos. Serve up carnival treats: popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy, snow cones, hamburgers and hotdogs.”
You can use these tips for inspiration, but the most important thing to strive for is an atmosphere that makes your guests feel welcome, relaxed and comfortable.