Elegant Outdoor Entertaining

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outdoor entertaining tent chandelier

May is the perfect month to entertain outdoors.  The weather is almost uniformly warm and sunny, but not yet unbearably hot.  This past weekend, we honored some very special volunteers at a reception in my backyard, and  I wanted to be sure that I paid attention to every detail to make them feel welcome and appreciated. If you’re planning an outdoor event (from a casual cookout to a more formal occasion), then let me share my Seven Secrets of Outdoor Entertaining:

1.  Let them know they’re in the right place! Be sure to put something out front to let them know where the party is, especially if you’ll be hanging out in the backyard instead of answering the doorbell!  I hung these colorful paper lanterns in lime green and white on my mailbox–a little more unique than the usual balloons!

Hang paper lanterns on the mailbox for a party

2. Make sure everyone knows each other.

At a more formal event, like mine, that might mean that you set out pre-printed name tags that match your color scheme.  Or you position a greeter at the door to introduce guests to one another.  Either way, it makes your guests feel welcome.

name tags black white green
Name tag table at party

3.  Let everyone know what to expect.  

I love printing (and framing) a menu using a mix of several different fonts for visual interest, and then putting it on my serving table to tell guests what their choices are.  You can also add notes like “gluten-free” or “vegetarian” for your guests with dietary restrictions (I will post all the tried-and-true recipes I used for this event very soon!).

Print and frame a menu for your next buffet!

Small picture frames hold labels with each menu item.  You can read how I made those {here} and {here}.

Lemon mousse tasting cups--yum!

4.  Keep things comfortable.

Whether it’s a casual or formal event that you’re hosting, you’ll want your guests to be comfortable.  While I was expecting a sunny day, the tent provided much-needed shade for us while we were eating, and I didn’t have to worry about where we’d all sit inside if a spring shower popped up.  I also made sure that my everyday outdoor furniture was a part of my event, and we added folding tables and chairs to expand our dining space.

Outdoor seating conversation area Backyard tent for a party!


5.  Use your indoor and outdoor space.

This is a busy time of year, with proms, graduations, and lots of weddings coming up.  Why not consider hosting your next event outdoors?  You can invite so many more people when you use your backyard to add to your party space!  We easily fit 40 people under the tent, but we kept the food and drinks inside for this particular event.  That way, everything stayed at the proper temperature, and the flies didn’t get to our meal before we did!

Meringues on dessert tier   mason jar glasses paper straws


6.  Add fun and unexpected touches.

When I saw the high ceiling in the tent, I just knew I’d have to hang a chandelier up there!  Fortunately, my neighbor had the perfect piece, and it really added a fun and festive touch to our decor.

tent with chandelier


I also set up a make-your-own-champagne-cocktail bar inside.  Guests could create their own drink with a choice of fruit juice mixers and fruit add-ins, or they could opt for a champagne-free fruit juice on ice, too.  This was a big hit, and I posted more on it {here}!


champagne cocktail mimosa bar

7.  Add beauty and comfort with TIKI® Brand products!

It’s beautiful here in Savannah, but the mosquitos and sand gnats are vicious!  I wanted to be sure that my guests weren’t the main course for the bugs, so I positioned four TIKI® Brand Island King® Large Flame Torches at the four corners of the yard to help keep the mosquitos away.  TIKI® Brand torches now come in a variety of colors and finishes, so you can coordinate with your party’s theme and colors.  Aren’t they pretty?

Island King ® TIKI® Torch

I also used the TIKI® Brand Glowing Tabletop Torch:

Tiki light

They worked like a charm, because we were bug-free all afternoon.  We also burned these beautiful blue TIKI® Brand Glowing Torches at my neighbor’s low country boil the night before, and they kept the mosquitoes away:

glowing torch

Thanks to the folks at TIKI® Brand for sending me all these fabulous party goodies–they really added to the fun (and comfort!) of the afternoon.  All of these goodies are available at WalMart, by the way. Want to win your own party package from TIKI® Brand?  They’re giving away 2 TIKI® Brand Glowing Torches (the beautiful blue ones) + 1 TIKI® Brand Glowing Table Torch + 1 – 64 oz Bottle TIKI® Brand Torch Fuel + 1 Snap & Pour spout = Retail Value $102.95 All you have to do to enter is comment below telling me “How does the TIKI® Brand help create the perfect environment for your outdoor entertaining?”  The contest runs through 6/30/14.  Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

This post is sponsored by TIKI® Brand, but as always, all opinions are my own.

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4.     For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the [email protected] email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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This sweepstakes runs from 5/15/2014-7/4/2014.
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  1. I love this! We use tiki torches (the old not pretty ones) to add not only bug protection but to add light to the yard.

  2. oh I have never seen them, but I love love that idea.. Not only do them bring a lovely look, I hear they keep the bugs away, and I am all about that :)!! bring on the BBQ~!

  3. I would love to try these and see if they
    help the “bug” problem here in the humid south.
    I often stay indoors because I hate fighting
    mosquitoes. =(
    And they are beautiful too !

  4. The tiki torches definitely create a welcoming atmosphere to any party!

  5. Love to use Tiki torches and the oil to keep the bugs away while enjoying Margaritas on my deck

  6. I love the look of the tiki torches. No one would ever know they were for combating bugs.

  7. We’ve been wanting to buy some tiki torches, just wasn’t
    too crazy about the bamboo ones, but I love the look of these.
    We do a lot more entertaining in the summer so these would
    definitely come in handy.

  8. I love the warm glow and ambiance tiki torches bring to our patio in the evening. Thanks for hosting such cool giveaway!

    Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos

  9. I think these are just wonderful functionally and esthetically! The ambience from the glow of the flame will provide quite a few mood settings!! I’d love to entertain by these lamps.

  10. I’ve always loved the fun & functionality of tiki torches. Mosquitos can find me from miles away, so having the tiki torches allows me to actually enjoy outdoor bbq’s and gatherings instead of hiding inside, or soaking myself in a can of bug spray. The blue glass ones are stunning & a definite upgrade from the standard type I usually see in stores.

  11. Donna Wisdom says

    What fun ideas. Keep ’em coming!

  12. I absolutely cannot be outside in the warm weather without the tiki torch. I’m a mosquito, bitin gnat magnet. These look really nice.

  13. Kimberly C says

    Love those torches!

  14. The torches are so cool!

  15. Stephanie says

    The blue Tiki torches are gorgeous and a must have for outdoor entertaining in the South! Love them!

  16. Meagan Liani says

    Perfect for outdoor entertaining as they combine function with style! This would be perfect for our summer parties…especially here in Ipswich! Thank you very much! 🙂

  17. Meagan Liani says
  18. The TIKI Brand helps me create the perfect environment for outdoor entertaining by creating a fun, comfortable and classy place to celebrate life with family and friends.

  19. I love the ambiance tiki torches create!

  20. Tabletop torch is lovely, not to mention useful too!

  21. Pamela Spencer says

    We have a new patio and I would love to add to the ambiance with these torches!

  22. This is such adorable setting for a party. The tiki torches add pop to the bright green and black colors. Thank you for all the suggestions. I love to entertain my neighbor and I will use these suggestions that you blog to us.
    Thank you

  23. D Schmidt says

    The Tiki brand provides a sense of relief against mosquitoes when outdoors, compliments our decor and adds to the ambiance with their great styling. My children would also think they are incredibly cool!

  24. D Schmidt says
  25. These new Tiki Torches are functional and decorative too! A win-win! They would add so much ambiance to any outdoor area.

  26. They would help set the ambiance and keep the bugs away.

  27. It helps keep away mosquitos! Love that

  28. It sets the perfect summer night mood!

  29. Lauren E. says

    It helps set the lighting for an evening on the patio

  30. Creates a relaxing atmosphere while enjoying a beautiful torch!

  31. Love, love, love the tiki torches! Beautiful color setting the tone for a bug free night is a bonus!

  32. Lauren M. says

    I love the cobalt color! These would be great for entertaining because we have lots of mosquitoes here!

  33. I recently noticed the newer (read: classier) version of the Tiki Torches – I definitely plan to upgrade my old plane jane ones before our big housewarming party…and you’ve given me even more ideas to incorporate into our soiree! 🙂 The TIKI® Brand will definitely help create the perfect environment for our outdoor entertaining by not only giving us beautiful lighting, but keeping those annoying bugs at bay! 🙂

  34. Katt Lewis says
  35. Denise M says
  36. Denise M says

    L♥O♥V♥E♥ Just Beautiful! (ツ)

  37. Elizabeth Cordell says

    Oh, how I would love to win! I need them for my gigantic yard full of mosquitos.

  38. Elizabeth Cordell says
  39. JerryAnne Ford says

    The new TIKI Torches are beautiful and would certainly be a welcome addition to our yard during the summertime.

  40. Leigh Anne Borders says

    I think that Tiki torches help to set the mood and ambiance of the get together. They make them feel more inviting and personal.

  41. Leigh Anne Borders says
  42. Debbie B says

    these torches look beautiful and the added bonus is that they keep away the mosquitos

  43. Debbie B says
  44. Tiki helps by being functional, yet very stylish too!

  45. Wanda McHenry says

    Tiki will absolutely help by giving my patio a great amber on those special nights!

  46. Wanda McHenry says
  47. What could be a better way to keep the bugs away! These new designs are so pretty. I had no idea Tiki torches could add such a great look.

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