Planning a dinner party can be both fun and exciting if you have a good plan. I am sharing my event planning checklist for an outdoor party so you, too, can create that lovely and warm experience for all your guests.
OUTDOOR DINNER EVENT PLANNING CHECKLIST
I have planned many parties in my lifetime and experienced exhaustion and stress. But after all these years I finally created an event planning checklist to help the experience be more pleasant.
So, I am sharing my pre-party secrets so you, too, can find joy in entertaining.
Before you begin to plan your party decide on a theme. Here are few theme ideas. Garden party decoration ideas, french country table setting ideas, and Italian dinner party styling inspiration are just a few. I have more under the entertain tab of my menu.
Then decide on a location, the number of people and one or two helpers on the day of the event, if it is a larger event.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the links below. All opinions are all my own.
To begin, decide on who you want to invite for your outdoor dinner party. Determine if it is going to be a few people or a large crowd.
Make a list of potential guests to get an idea of the size of your party.
Shop for the invitations; there are some fabulous ones on Etsy. You could also create an online invitation Evite.
One of my favorite places for parties is by a lake. We started our graduation party planning in this dreamy place.
But I also love small dinner parties on back porches too.
My back porch is rather small, but I was able to have six guests over for an Italian style dinner party.
Sometimes smaller spaces will have the best memories. So if your porch is small, don’t let that stop you!
No matter what size party you are having, this event planning checklist will help.
SCHEDULE CLEANING OR LAWN CARE
Whether you were going to hire this cleaning and lawn care out or do it yourself, go ahead and pencil it on your calendar to complete all the work the day before.
Food is not my specialty, so I referred to Pinterest, family, friends, and catering for recipes.
I would encourage you to test your menu before the party so you know if you love it enough to serve it to your guests.
When planning the menu, I consider if my party has a specific theme first, and then I select items based on the idea.
For example, if it’s an Italian style party look for Italian food like this Panzenella dish by The Susan Williams, Food, Faith and Fun blog or this Meatballs recipe by Mel at Adventures of Mel, both provided via friends.
The important thing to remember is to plan out what you want to serve on your event planning checklist.
Then, I recommend going ahead and making as much of it as you can the night before, especially items that are served cold.
Now it’s time to determine how many tables you will need.
Of course, the number of seats you will need will be based on the number of people who have RSVP'd.
Next, determine what tables you have and how many people sit per table.
Now ask yourself if you want a buffet to serve the food on, a drink table for your drinks and a dessert table for your dessert.
Refer to your event planning checklist and make a note of how many tables you have, and if you are short tables, how many you need to track down.
My small back porch is not big enough for these extra tables.
So, I serve everything else in my kitchen. They prepare their dishes and then come out to the table.
However, if you have a large enough space either outside or on your back porch, you can add other serving tables.
About selecting chairs… Some may wonder why even have a category called chairs.
Your chairs can add so much character to your table. See what a difference this made our table at the Mother's Day Brunch.
I love it when people have a universal table design with kind of a farmhouse feel, and they use different chairs at the table. It just has a warm, welcome-home feeling.
See what I mean!
A chair can make all the difference in the world to a beautiful outdoor dinner party.
Now that we have all the major pieces planned out, it's on to the fun part:
On part two of the event planning checklist, we will talk about the table centerpiece, details of the drink table, and the dessert table.
We will dive deeper into decor details like the Mother's Day tablescape ideas, Italian dinner party styling inspiration and more.
We still have loads of ideas to finish this charming outdoor dinner party.
SHOP THE POST
Outdoor Party Checklist
To wrap up part one of the outdoor party checklist here is a list all in one place.
- Determine party theme or style
- Determine location
- Create guest list
- Order invitations or create Evite
- Ask or hire one or two people to help on event day (if it is a large party)
- Schedule cleaning and lawn care a day or two before the event
- Create a menu (schedule catering or plan yourself)
- Plan out table decorations and tables
- Plan out chairs
For the day of event checklist that also includes this list read event planning checklist part two.
And here is a printable you can use to plan out all your details. To download this printable simply subscribe to Life on Summerhill to get access to the print.
I hope this has helped you do some pre-planning for your next outdoor party. If you start a month to several weeks away on this part it will be more enjoyable and a whole lot less stressful.
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Linda, thank you so much for featuring my meatballs recipe! You have some wonderfully beautiful ideas here. I especially love those candy jars.
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You're welcome! Your recipes are great and I love sharing them.
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