6 Tips and Tricks for Entertaining Al Fresco, As Told By a Pro

<p>Ryan Garvin</p>

Ryan Garvin

Now that spring has officially sprung, it's the perfect opportunity to start prepping our outdoor spaces for entertaining al fresco—and if you’re really lucky, the outdoor season may already have kicked off in your area.

Because we love nothing more than a great backyard soiree, we turned to the queen of entertaining: designer, entrepreneur, lifestyle expert, and philanthropist Breegan Jane. Read on to find out how Jane preps her own outdoor spaces for stunning spring and summer events, as well as tips for planning parties your friends will rave about, even once the temps drop back down.

Now is the Time to Start Prepping

If you’re waiting until the weather warms to tackle your outdoor space, Jane says that’s a common mistake. In reality, there’s no time like the present when it comes to looking at the damage winter may have done on your backyard or patio. "There are plenty of tasks to tackle before the season begins," Jane notes.

She suggests cleaning and emptying pieces that might have collected rainwater, checking seat cushions to see if they need to be replaced, and looking for any chips or jagged edges on flooring or furniture. And psst—it's also a great time to decide on accent decor that might need to be refreshed for the season.

<p>Ryan Garvin</p>

Ryan Garvin

Design a Layout With Guests in Mind

If you’re not quite ready to replace your larger outdoor furniture—or you simply don’t need to—Jane suggests taking a look at smaller pieces that can have a major impact in overhauling the whole vibe. Remember, this is the year of treating your outdoor space like an extension of your indoors.

“I always tell clients that small occasional tables are such a simple addition that can truly enhance your guests’ experience,” Jane says. “Arranging a few occasional tables throughout the area will ensure guests have a place to actually place their cups and plates while they’re socializing. You can find really beautiful ones that match your decor for an added pop of pizazz.”

There are many simple additions that can truly enhance your guests’ experience.

<p>Katee Grace</p>

Katee Grace

Arrange or Rearrange Your Seating Accordingly

Whether you’re buying new pieces or just assessing what you have, Jane says creating easy, functional seating zones is a must for any fabulous party.

“What good is an outdoor party if no one can easily interact with one another?” Jane asks. “People focus a lot on the look of the space, and that’s certainly important—but you can always manage a nice balance between functionality and aesthetic.”

As you arrange your outdoor area, consider not only how your seating looks, but how it’ll be used. Group chairs and sectionals in such a way that those seated there can easily hear each other talking, Jane suggests.

“Think about the flow of the space—especially if there will be food or stations—so that you allow for proper space and continuity of the design," she says.

<p>Ryan Garvin</p>

Ryan Garvin

Keep Comfort a Top Priority

You have your small side tables for drinks and plates, your seating is arranged festively, and your layout is set functionally. Next, Jane suggests considering the comfort of your guests.

“People should take comfort more seriously," she says. "If you’re inviting people over for a soiree, you want them to stay long enough to enjoy all the work and preparation you’ve invested in your event,  right?”

Consider the little and big ways you can make the guest experience a positive one with your design, Jane suggests. Choose comfortable chairs and seat cushions, and if your outdoor space isn’t covered, consider an oversized patio umbrella so guests can stay cool in the shade.

Flooring is Important Outside, Too

Jane let us in on a little secret—flooring is an element that you still need to consider outside. Outdoor rugs aren’t just a way to add a pop of color or make a space feel more cohesive, they’re also a way to make your outdoor space more comfortable.

“I always suggest looking into the flooring you choose for your outdoor space,” Jane says. “Whether it’s ensuring the grass is manicured, outdoor rugs provide soft surfaces for feet, the comfort of your guests can make or break your party—don’t overlook it."

<p>Ryan Garvin</p>

Ryan Garvin

Add Festive Lighting

Just as designers regularly say about our indoors, Jane assures us great lighting is just as important for setting the mood of your outdoor party. She loves solar lights, which come in all shapes and styles, and they score points for being eco-friendly.

“Hang lights around your outdoor space to not only set a festive mood but also to have the option of keeping the party going well after sunset," she says.

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