Backyard ideas

May 25, 2017
28 Backyard Seating Ideas

The experts agree: For stress-less party days, the key is to prepare as much as you can in advance. Look for smart shortcuts and preparations you can do ahead of time, leaving the moments before guests arrive — as well as during party time — carefree and fun. Photo courtesy of Denise Vivaldo.

Pre-Planning Perfection

Designer Lauren Liess of The Pure Style says, "I always make sure I have enough time to prepare leisurely, then I turn up the music and wait for my guests." Some of her suggestions for day-before details: Take care of flower and furniture arrangements, set up lighting/lanterns, prep table settings and prepare foods such as undressed salads, burger patties, etc. On party day, it's time to lay out the tables and finish food prep. With about a half-hour to go, simply whip up beverages, light candles and set out food. Photo courtesy of Lauren Liess.

Do-Ahead Decor

Culinary expert and author of Do It for Less! Parties: Tricks of the Trade from Professional Caterers' Kitchens, Denise Vivaldo adds to the pre-party prep with beautiful table decorations that help set the mood. Flickering tea lights add sparks of warmth to any get-together and take away the will-they-wilt worry of floral arrangements. Melt-in-your mouth starfish sugar cookies are dusted with powdered sugar and arranged with tea lights on a water-blue platter. Photo courtesy of Denise Vivaldo.

Simply Delicious

Simple-to-serve, gourmet-style sandwiches are ideal for backyard bashes. Stuff fresh bread with turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, green apples and homemade basil mayo. Fresh gazpacho is the perfect menu-mate, says Liess, because "it's served cold and people can walk around with it in cups or mugs." For the littler guests, go with no-fuss kids' favorites like mini hamburgers, pigs in blankets and apples with peanut butter. Photo courtesy of Lauren Liess.

All-in-the-Family Style

Pros like Vivaldo know that, when entertaining casually, less is definitely more. When a meal is served family-style, she points out, "Each table of guests receives its own beautifully plated serving platter of food, which makes for a wonderful — and edible — centerpiece." A table graced with thoughtfully cooked and presented dishes needs little else to enhance it. This classic chicken cassoulet is the center of attention at a French-countryside-themed party. Photo courtesy of Denise Vivaldo.

Cheese, Please

Always a party-pleaser: cheese! Vivaldo suggests an array of three to five cheeses, when part of a larger menu. "Choose cheeses based on contrasting tastes and textures; balance the sweet with the pungent, the firm with the creamy, " she advises. Round out the perfect platter with crackers, a baguette, roasted red peppers, olives, capers, nuts and assorted dried and fresh fruit. Photo courtesy of Denise Vivaldo.

Nature's Harvest

"For a laid-back party at home, " Liess says, "I like to keep table settings simple and natural." For easy elegance, she decorates with seasonal items whenever possible, allowing nature to lend a hand with the party's theme. A harvest-party table welcomes with pumpkins, gourds, in-season flowers and greenery. Adds Liess, "It's also great to include mint or lemon verbena for their scents — and they help ward off mosquitoes." Photo courtesy of Lauren Liess.

Pack a Picnic

"[Something] I love doing for family outdoor dinners or smaller parties is to pack everything in a picnic basket in the kitchen, then bring it outside for a simple meal, " shares Liess. "If you're doing this, bring along a bucket for dirty plates and silverware for when you're finished, so you don't have to get up from the table and clean." Photo courtesy of Lauren Liess.

Drink in the Fun

Serving up a signature beverage has become practically de rigueur when entertaining today, so jump on this popular trend with a customized cocktail or non-alcoholic concoction of your own. Vivaldo livens up lemonade or iced tea with fresh lavender or rosemary — unexpected and pretty twists on classic faves. Come up with party-perfect names for these infused drinks, such as "Provencal Punch" or "Vivaldo Splash." Photo courtesy of Denise Vivaldo.

Do a Favor

Send guests home with lovely reminders of your well-planned gatherings. Vivaldo suggests little mementos, like soaps, packets of herbs or garden seeds and scented candles — all of which can be selected to coordinate with your party's theme. For a craftier, ladylike favor, Vivaldo instructs, "Make old-fashioned nosegays to hang off [guests'] chairs. Roll decorative paper in a cone and attach a ribbon handle." Photo courtesy of Denise Vivaldo.

Fire It Up

"The best way to end an outdoor party is with a fire and s'mores, " insists Liess. Guests big and small won't mind getting their hands a little dirty for this classic campfire favorite. Plus, the gooey DIY dessert is one less thing for you to prepare and a sweet end to a low-key party. Liess believes dessert is more fun when it is served at the end of a party instead of having sweets throughout the event. "Make a production out of dessert and people seem to enjoy it more, " she says. Photo courtesy of Lauren Liess.


Landscaping Tips

Though your home is your castle, there is no necessity to surround it with a moat. Here are 5 tips that will help you to make your landscaping feel more warm, welcoming and cozy.

1. Put some flowers nearby your entrance. Flowers make any area look more welcoming and attractive, so greeting your guests with Petunia, Snapdragon, Lily-of-the-Nile or some other garden flowers is always a great thing to do. What is more, to add some space between your house and the entrance, you can consider adding a little white fence. It will create an illusion that your front yard is bigger than it actually is. What is more, adding fence will create a great space for planting flowers to add some color and coziness.

2. Add rambling vines to make your yard look absolutely lovely. You can not deny that rambling vines always create romantic and even magical atmosphere. So why not to use this tip while decorating your yard?

3. To hide the unattractive driveway, consider adding some color, texture, and height. You can easily do it by adding various sorts of flowers. To start, create an island of green lawn right in the hub of a drive. Then add a couple of low boxwood hedges with flowers toward the back of your island.

4. If you want your yard to blossom and flourish bust still do not have enough time to maintain it, consider planting low-fuss lilies. Such flowers look absolutely gorgeous and come in the variety of rainbow hues, so you can pick the one you love most. What is more, low-fuss lilies do not care about the sort of soil, they love the sun and welcome hot, they do not afraid of drought. In other words, Crinums is an ideal flower for all those who are looking for low-maintenance solutions.

5. The last tip also touches the low-maintenance aspect. To make your life easier, group plantings into beds and islands. This will help you to avoid mowing and trimming around each individual plant, save a lot of time and even money.

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