Judy Kuhtreiber's Blog
Whether you're hosting outdoor gatherings in your own backyard or at another outdoor venue, there are a few elements you will need to consider carefully. The size of your space and the number of expected guests is only the beginning. You'll want to plan out the flow of traffic and access to certain areas. Seating is also an important factor to establish as you plan your event. While flow and seating arrangements are practical and important parts of planning, but you will also want to think about the atmosphere, mood and parking aspects of your party.
Space and Flow
No matter your space size, you can plan a get together that accommodates all your guests. A small sit-down dinner party or a large open house type of gathering at a public park both require a deep spatial understanding of the area for comfortable interaction and relaxation. If you are working with a small area, make sure you keep walking spaces clear and that each guest will have enough elbow room. In a larger venue, you may want to set up several areas that will accommodate small groups to encourage interaction.
It may also be a good idea to let your guests know where the bathroom(s) are located at the beginning of the event. Walk through your space and think about how your guest will get to the food, beverages and seating areas. Take care of any obstacles or items that may pose as a tripping hazard or that can break easily. Trying to clean up messes during an event is difficult and takes time away from your guests.
Seating and Style made Simple
Having plenty of seating for all your guests will encourage social interaction. Make sure the seats are comfortable and in good condition. The last thing you want is a guest to end up embarrassed or hurt by falling out of a broken seat. Also, think about where your guest will set their drinks or plates down while they are visiting with each other. Having small side tables or coffee tables spread around the seating areas will allow for a relaxed setting.
To set up an area that feels relaxing and fun, you may want to hang some string lighting for an evening event. This gives softer lighting than your backyard security lighting or a couple of floodlights. Using colorful planters and inexpensive outdoor lanterns can add a festive feel, as well.
The next time you plan an outdoor gathering, walk through your space and anticipate the best flow, comfort and ambiance for your guests. You'll be glad you did!