Patio Party #youredoingitwrong

Most of us can't pick our neighbors, but boy am I glad that I won the lottery with mine. This girl knows how to throw a fiesta...and she's got the most adorable backyard patio. Naturally, when she invites me over I'm more than willing to jump on the invitation to leave my sad and miserable outdoor space and join her on the set of Southern Living magazine. In my defense we are in the middle of a move and only the essentials are left behind (ash tray, broom, doormat....I call it minimalist...you call it trailer trash, whatevs). Anyways, here's a few tips from my neighbor herself on how to throw a great patio party for a small group:

1. Lighting

Gotta set the mood. And do this however you can! Candles, small firepit, and of course cute hanging lightbulbs are the best. My neighbor has solar-powered ones that a group of us girls set up one weekend. Multiple manicures were ruined that day. Moment of silence please.....

2. Plenty of outdoor furniture

If you have a small patio make sure there is plenty of seating for everyone at your party. Sure your guests may say "oh no, I'm fine, I've been sitting all day...don't worry about me!" That's gonna last for about 30 minutes. Studies show that having enough seating for everyone at a party increases the "good times had by all" factor by 76%. I also just made that up. But I think that if someone actually conducted that study, I wouldn't be too far off the mark. Also, know how many people your space can handle. Make sure there is just enough furniture to accommodate the number of people who can reasonably be entertained on your size patio.

3. Drinks...the kind that don't run out

I don't care if it's BYOB or you're providing the drinks...make sure they don't run out. And have options. This should go without saying, but I've been to plenty of "gatherings" in the past where the BYOB policy either wasn't communicated or we experienced a drought 10 minutes in and now I'm seriously concerned about my ability to suffer through future patio parties like these. My neighbor happens to own a margarita/bellini/mixed drinks machine, but while it's a great conversation starter, it's not necessary to ensure everyone's cups runeth over continuously. Regardless, here's her recipe for the margaritas in the featured image:

Blend the following…

3 oz. Margaritavilla Gold Tequila

5 1/4 oz. Margaritaville Margarita Mix

3/4 oz. Triple Sec

1 1/2 oz. Lime Juice

1 1/2 oz. Orange Juice

*Finish it off by rubbing the rim with a lime and dipping it into a plate of Tajin; a tangy and spicy Mexican seasoning used to enhance the flavors of fruits. Garnish with lime. Get a fabulous hot pink manicure to enhance the "good times had by all" factor of your party pictures.

4. Something to do/watch

This last part is the most important obviously. Maybe you're an "awkward Arnold" or a "can't figure out what to do with my hands Catherine." And that's OK. But recognizing where you fall on the spectrum of poor entertainer to Martha muthaeffin Stewart is critically important to the success of a small patio party. Or maybe you're going to be busy in the kitchen and can't be on the patio at all times to entertain your guests. If any of these are the case, you need to make sure your guests have something to do. Personally, I invested (and yes, I consider this an investment) in a regulation size cornhole board set (see below) that I decorated myself. Probably the best thing I could've done as a hostess. It's always sure to please and don't forget to institute a few house rules like: Cannot play cornhole without a drink in one hand! Other ideas for entertainment include breaking out a game (Cards Against Humanity) or cooking on the grill. It gives your guests something to watch and leaves room for plenty of awkward comments like "don't burn yourself!' and "mmm, smells good." They think they're helping...

This list is not all-inclusive, but it’s a good start! What are your favorite patio party games? Let us know in the comments.

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about the author

Riley is an active duty US Army Captain and the Founder of Right and Up. She’s currently stationed in Washington, DC, with previous assignments at Fort Huachuca, Fort Bliss, Fort Riley and Fort Benning. You can typically find her eating embarrassingly large amounts of food in local restaurants, or exploring her military town with her husband, Sean and her dog, Gus. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!