Guest Contribution by Emma Bishop
So you’ve decided to throw an outdoor party in NOLA. Great idea! Whether it’s a small get together or a huge celebratory bash, you want it to be an event that everyone will remember. You also want your party to be a celebration, an expression of camaraderie, and, above all, a relaxing event for your family and friends. But how do you make that happen? It’s best to start preparing a few weeks ahead if you want to throw the ultimate outdoor party.
Lay the groundwork by doing some yard work. No one wants to see a lawn covered in weeds and brown spots. Mow your lawn every week as to not cut more than 1/3rd of the grass blade off each time, and try mowing in a different direction each time. Water deeply to feed the roots of your grass, and treat or pull all weeds. Seed any bare areas and give the new grass a few weeks to grow.
Landscaping is something your guests will notice from the get-go. The right flowers will help highlight your green lawn. Consider a monochromatic garden with several different textures. White and silver plants will really stand out at night.
Keep Bugs at Bay
Keep uninvited guests from crashing your party by making the yard pest-proof. Mowing regularly will help, but you also must get rid of any stagnant water in the backyard weeks before the event. You can also plant some citronella and marigolds around the edge of the patio to deter the mosquitoes. (The pungent aroma of these plants really bugs the bugs) You also want to get rid of the critters that could devour your plants. On the day or night of the party, offer guests bug wipes that won’t create a smelly fog. Have plenty of citronella candles and bug repellent spray available.
You want your guests to feel comfortable and relaxed, right? Provide as much seating as possible. You may have to press some indoor furniture — dining chairs, poufs, and drum stools — into service. If the weather allows it, recruit some indoor throw pillows as well. Depending on the size of your guest list, you may also want to rent some chairs.
Master the Music
Music is a great element of unity and interaction. It’s a powerful force that brings together people who differ on everything and anything. So, have a playlist that will last for at least five hours. Be sure to go heavy on classics and don’t crank the speakers.
Keep Things Cool
The summer heat in New Orleans can turn even the dreamiest party into a nightmare. The sweltering heat doesn’t have to ruin the fun. Bring some ice-cold compresses and add handheld fans into the mix. Cold drinks will also serve as instant air conditioners. If you don’t have a covered patio, make sure you put up lots of shade umbrellas. You can also rent a canopy for anywhere between $100 to $500, depending on the size of your guest list. String lights under the canopy or umbrellas to encourage guests to stick around when the sun goes down.
Light it Right
Speaking of lights, stringing holiday twinkle lights to form a straight line or V-shape can work magic. Some tea lights, hurricane lanterns or elegant round bulbs may give off a warm glow. To induce a more whimsical feel, you will want to drape the light bulbs across the deck, tree branches, and even the fence.
Entertain the Kids
For grownups to kick back with the cocktails, it’s crucial to have some diversions for the little ones. Consider a Slip and Slide, beach balls, a sprinkler, and plenty of blowing bubbles. If you have a corner space, consider hiring a face painter or balloon artist to keep the kids busy.
Of course, you don’t want unforeseen incidents to spoil all the fun. That’s why you need to have a first aid kit in place. Have some ice packs ready in case need arises. Another thing to have on call is a ride-sharing service or designated drivers if some of your guests have partied a little too hard.
We hope these ideas help you prepare for a dreamy backyard bash. If you need help preparing that perfect garden, just visit us at our garden center on 9401 Airline Highway, New Orleans, LA 70118 and call us at (504) 488-8887.
Emma Bishop is a lifestyle and design writer, and mother of two beautiful girls. She is a social butterfly and loves to entertain guests at home with beautifully decorated spaces for any occasion.