Ah, summertime. Close your eyes and you can already smell the crisp air, the smoky barbecue and the sweet scent of your favorite fruit salads. There are lots of ways to enjoy a gathering of your closest friends in the comfort of your own backyard, but why not do it up a bit and have some extra fun? Make your next backyard party something special with a few simple do-it-yourself ideas. Your guests will be so impressed and you’ll be the talk of your crowd the next Monday as everyone raves about the amazing party they attended the previous weekend. Here are five fun ideas to get you started.
Light It Up
If you have some old mason jars lying around then you have a beautiful and creative way to add some light for those night-time backyard parties. Line the jars with some colorful tissue paper – both solids or patterns work very well. Then put a battery-operated flameless candle inside and close up the jar. You’ll have a glowing jar that is perfect for a little festivity for any occasion. Get a few and line your table with them, or get several and line your walkway. Since there is no flame, they are completely safe, and it’s a clever and beautiful way to light up the space.
Make It A Movie Night
What could be more fun than a movie night outside in your backyard with all your friends? It’s perfect for those warm summer nights with a tasty cocktail and a comfy blanket. All you need is your computer, some external speakers, a large white sheet and a computer projector. You can find computer projectors for as little as $100 from your local office supply store. If you spent a bit more to get a high-definition one, you’ll be glad you did, but even the more inexpensive ones will do the trick. Make sure to mount the projector in a high place so you get the best angle, then attach the speakers to your computer and hang the white sheet as your screen. Make sure to keep that screen taught at the corners and you have your own backyard theater.
Create Some Vintage Seating
Every party needs a few places for guests to sit. Instead of pulling those rusty old folding chairs out of the garage, why not spend a few dollars and a little time converting some old vintage chairs into perfect weather-proof outdoor seating? Achieve that shabby-chic look with a variety of vintage chairs found at garage sales, antique stores and thrift shops. A few coats of pretty paint and some weather-proof coating and you’ve got a much more beautiful seating arrangement to please all your guests. For extra style, find chairs that are similar in form but different styles, and then use the same (or complimentary) colors for the paint. If your seating requires cushions, find a pretty outdoor fabric at your local craft shop to tie them all together. The best part? You can leave these pretty chairs out all summer long so you and your family have a comfortable outdoor space to enjoy.
Don’t Forget The Kids
Don’t leave the kids out of the fun this summer. There are lots of great ways to spruce up your backyard space to keep the kids entertained at your next party or barbecue. Add some kid-created art to your yard with an easy-to-install backyard chalkboard. All you need are some simple tools, wood and some chalkboard paint. Start with a sheet of wood (sanded and primed.) Simply nail it to your fence and paint that wood with chalkboard paint. A few painted two-by-fours can serve as a frame, while also helping the kids to know where they can and can’t draw. Put out a few cute buckets filled with colorful chalk and let the kids go to town creating all sorts of fun drawings. Adults will even get in on the chalkboard fun, and you can use the space for outdoor games or other entertainment all year long.
Whether you are throwing a big backyard barbecue, having a few friends over for a cozy dinner, or just want to dine outside with the family, there’s nothing better than a permanent backyard cooler. Start with an old picnic table (something rustic or re-claimed is best, so you can keep that great shabby-chic look. Remove the middle plank of the table and insert a metal trough with a few screws. Fill with ice and your favorite beverages, and you’ve got a quick and easy home improvement project that your guests will love. Plus it’s so much more attractive than one of those cheap Styrofoam coolers you get at the liquor store.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.