How To Create A Stunning Outdoor Space For Summer Gatherings

How To Create A Stunning Outdoor Space For Summer Gatherings

Nothing says summer like enjoying your outdoor space with friends and loved ones — but if your backyard is looking a little less than party-ready, now is the perfect time to liven it up.

From casual BBQs to elegant garden get-togethers, this is the season for hosting an event to remember. Here’s how to create a stunning outdoor space for summer gatherings at your Chicagoland home that your guests will never forget.

Choose your theme

Whether it’s your birthday, an anniversary, or just a Saturday, going with a cohesive theme for your party will let your guests know what to expect and make planning much easier. 

Is this a kid-friendly happening? Outdoor games and beach themes like a crab boil will keep everyone fed and entertained for hours. Wildly creative ideas for decor and costumes are always loads of fun — how about a superhero brunch, a fancy spa day, afternoon tea, or a toga party? Let your imagination run wild. 

Focusing on your motif will guide you when it comes to selecting your menu and decorations. You can either keep it simple with a few charming touches from the dollar or party store, or you can go all out.


Even though the sun sets much later these days, decorative and ambient lighting brings a festive atmosphere without costing a fortune, as well as adding safety and functionality. There are a nearly endless variety of options for brightening up your celebration.

  • Solar power: Light-up garden sculptures, strings of colorful fairy lights, and pathway lamps all offer a stylish glow.
  • Paper and metal lanterns: Displayed in an array of vibrant hues, patterns, and sizes, these party classics add a magical mood.
  • Fire: Go big with a bonfire-worthy fire pit or check out the newest gas-powered table-top conversation pieces. Citronella torches also keep bugs away while boosting your tiki vibe. 

Sit back and relax

Aside from food and beverages, adequate and comfortable seating is a must-have for a successful shindig. If you don’t have enough designated patio furniture, bring the indoors out by selecting your sturdiest chairs and ottomans from the house.

Cushions, folding chairs, bean bags, blankets, and throw rugs all make fabulous places for your beloved guests to chill and have a chat. You may also want to pay a visit to community thrift stores, where you can frequently find a great deal on unique and vintage furnishings and other items to compliment your party theme.

Divide and conquer

Make the most of your space by creating different zones for your visitors to explore. Even if your backyard isn’t the biggest, you can make it appear larger by differentiating areas for various purposes. 

By utilizing outdoor rugs, furniture, lighting, wooden half-walls, pergolas, container plants, or other elements, you can designate space for different activities. A cozy fire circle, outdoor dining room, lively outdoor game arcade, or a cushy lounge with plenty of pillows all give your company somewhere to congregate, and most importantly, have fun.

Enchant your garden

Even if you’re not exactly blessed with a green thumb, you can still bring some pizzazz to your backyard before the big event with some eye-catching and inexpensive plants from your local nursery. Fresh flowers, greenery, and aromatic herbs all add a breath of fresh air to any gathering.

Invite a bohemian flair and give your outdoor space a magical feeling with plant-laden tablescapes, partly hidden whimsical sculptures, imaginative lighting, patterned outdoor carpets, and unconventional seating.

Keep it cool

For a daytime bash, make sure to offer an oasis or two with shade plants, fans, and maybe even a water feature like an inflatable pool or a sprinkler if it’s particularly hot (and matches your theme). 

To make your gathering truly memorable, tempt your guests with a refreshing and creative selection of cold food and drinks. Always include non-alcoholic options and easy-to-snack on items like fresh-cut fruits and vegetables so there’s something for everyone. 

You can never have too much ice at a summertime event, so stock up ahead of time and borrow or invest in a few additional coolers to ensure you can keep drinks and eats delightfully cold.

Serve the best

Deciding what to be on the menu for your outdoor party can be a bit nerve-wracking, so stay calm, let your theme inspire you, and make it as self-serve as possible. Laying out a buffet of grilled favorites and simple salads is pretty stress-free, as is an unusual option like a taco bar or a cupcake-decorating station. 

If you need a bit of inspiration, try some of these delicious dishes, like watermelon salsa, meatballs in chipotle sauce, shrimp salad Louis, roasted veggies with herbs and cheese, or savory-sweet island chicken.

While you’ll want to have plenty of water, soda, and beer for the traditionalists, enhance your experience with a few big-batch beverages you can make ahead of time and serve in pitchers, big plastic carafes, or decorative drink dispensers. Here are some tasty ideas:

  • Pineapple rose sangria
  • Blueberry lavender spritzer
  • Mint limeade
  • Strawberry-blood orange rum punch
  • Palomas
  • Dreamsicle delight

Planning Saturday or Sunday early-ish festivities? Dazzle your tired pals with a sugar-laden coffee station, ice-cold champagne with a selection of tropical fruit juices for mimosas, and maybe even a Bloody Mary bar featuring a variety of toppings and hot sauces (if you feel daring).

Bring it home

If your Chicagoland home features any kind of outdoor space, then that’s the perfect spot to entertain your friends and neighbors, celebrate the good things in life, and enjoy each other’s company. 

You can easily transform this area of your property into a legendary party pavilion with some creative decor decisions, the right lighting, comfortable seating, and most importantly, your thoughtful hospitality.

Looking for a new living situation with abundant outdoor space where you can entertain? Our agents are neighborhood experts who can help you find just the right home where you can be the host. 
Ready to explore? Reach out today!

Written by




Stay Connected

Get the latest news, stories, and advice from the Baird & Warner blog delivered straight to your inbox.


Stay Connected

Get the latest news, stories, and advice from the Baird & Warner blog delivered straight to your inbox.


Stay Connected

Get the latest news, stories, and advice from the Baird & Warner blog delivered straight to your inbox.