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10 Tricks for a Flawless Backyard Party

Everything your need to know to secure a flyaway tablecloth and prevent bugs from diving into drinks.

iStock/Charles Schmidt

Find enough seating


If your patio furniture alone won’t cut it for your backyard party, bring kitchen stools and dining room chairs outside. You might also consider renting furniture; folding chairs and tables can run between $1 and $6 a piece. For a cheaper option, ask neighbors if they would lend you their weatherproof furniture for the day. (Don’t forget to invite them and help them move the items you borrow.)

iStock/Michael Witman

Let there be light


When the sun goes down, don’t leave guests in the dark. Try stringing holiday twinkle lights in a straight line, X- or V-shape for an elegant look, or drape them across tree branches for a more whimsical feel. To prevent guests from tripping on extension cords, secure them to the ground. Bend a six-inch piece of wire into a U-shape, position it over the extension cord, and push the wire into the ground. Tiki torches and candles are other great ways to add light and create a warm atmosphere. Don’t miss these 14 things that can make your yard look messy.

iStock/Pamela Moore

Secure a flyaway tablecloth


Don’t let a little wind dictate how you set the table. Use a sewing machine (or even a few concealed safety pins) to add small pocket pouches to the inside corners of your tablecloth. Fill the pockets with stones to keep the tablecloth weighted down (see full instructions on Curbly). Another option: Stick Velcro onto the legs of your table and the corners of your tablecloth. Bonus points if you use a few of these tips to make your next backyard party look expensive.

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Keep bugs at bay


Don’t force guests to swat mosquitoes all night. Set up a fan near your primary seating area (mosquitoes are notoriously weak fliers) and place citronella candles around the remaining clusters. Additionally, have bug spray available for guests.

iStock/Catherine Lane

Get guests mingling


The best backyard party is the one where different groups of friends get to know each other. Position the bar or keg as far away from the entrance as possible in order to draw people out into the space. Want to facilitate a ton of conversation? Look into renting rectangular tables as opposed to circular ones. Rectangular shapes allow guests to have private conversations as well as enjoy and pop into the ones going on around them. Brush up on your hosting skills with these simple ways to make everyone in the room (or yard!) relax.

iStock/Linda Hides

Keep bugs out of drinks


Don’t let glasses of sangria become swimming pools for pests. Try this trick: place a cupcake liner over the top of a glass and poke a straw through the center. Keep things looking fresh by choosing a patterned liner and a pretty straw (see full instructions at Martha Stewart). Avoid cup chaos by placing a magic marker at your bar station. Guests can write their names on drinks. And to make every other aspect of your party run smoothly, read these 15 party-planning tips to throw your best summer fiesta.

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Prevent full bellies before dinner


While everyone loves an amazing spread of appetizers, you also want guests to still be hungry come dinner. Let your backyard party guests know what time you plan to serve the main course and remove appetizers approximately a half hour before. Replacing finger food with condiments and other toppings will send a subtle cue that the party is entering a new phase. Perfect your grilling technique with these expert tips.

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Amplify music outside


No need to rent or borrow expensive sound equipment. Simply position your iPod dock or home speakers so that the speaker points toward the wall of your house (as opposed to facing out toward the yard). The sound will bounce off the wall and amplify to the perfect volume. Along with your music, be sure to have some yard games available that will take your backyard party to the next level.

iStock/Rebecca Brockie

Serve icy cold drinks


Keep drinks chilled without watering them down by placing your punch bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice. Use a plastic container to freeze a giant ice cube, which will melt slower than a ton of smaller cubes. To go the extra mile, prepare flavored ice. Simple pour whatever juice or lemonade you plan to serve into an ice cube tray and allow it to freeze. For added pizzazz, pop a berry into each cube.

iStock/paultarasenko

Cool down overheated guests


A great backyard party host wants her guests to be as comfortable as possible at all times. And in the summer heat, that means keeping them cool. Have at least one bucket stocked with hot-weather essentials: think sunblock, bug spray, personal fans, and water spritzers. Additionally, dip dollar-store washcloths in water and display them in a bucket of ice. Guests can take one and apply it to wrists and other pressure points to cool down. Next, don’t miss these 11 things you need to have at your next BBQ.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest