Key Elements to Outdoor Entertaining

One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, talks about how his parents created a home environment where their kids and friends would actually want to out. This way, his parents really got to know their friends and what they were up to. Basically creating their own little hub.

This is something that my husband and I also take to heart. A few years ago our backyard was due for a major overhaul. We had a deck and children’s play structures that were at the end of their life expectancies.

Summertime is so beautiful in the PNW.  It’s the big payoff we get for wading through all of the rain!   Thus, we wanted to create a space where we could take advantage of this beautiful season and one where our kids wanted to congregate. In planning our new outdoor space, we had certain elements that we wanted to include. My husband wanted a sport court and I wanted an awesome fire pit and space for a dining set. We both wanted sufficient grass space to include a volleyball net for the kids. Our previous setup already had the poles for a volleyball, but we were concerned that we would have sufficient space for both the sport court and the volleyball net.


The trick was to space things out so that all of these elements could work together. After many evenings of measuring out the space and compromising the best layout, we did it. The space is everything we ever wanted!

Once the space was created, it was time to bring it to life and making it our own.  We started by bringing the indoors out.  It’s really just the same as decorating and personalizing the inside of your home.

  • Make it functional: side tables for drinks, chairs for conversation.
  • Have fun with it by decorating your space.
    • Lanterns, ceramics pots, garden stools, etc. are all great for personalizing your outdoor space and adding your unique touch.
    • Area rugs made with weather proof recycled materials can help add color and define the space.  I have one that I use under my antique, black iron patio dining set that fits the space perfectly. You can find them locally at A Lot of Flowers.  Check out their Instagram page:
    • As my regular readers have already figured out, I am obsessed with Glassybabies!  I use them all over my home, including my outdoor living space.  They add the perfect pop of color and also function for additional mood lighting.
  • Get cozy with blankets and pillows.  Find a cute basket, like the antique market basket from Ormolulu, shown above, where you can store and keep your blankets dry.  Then simply bring them out when the evening starts to get chilly.
  • Don’t forget the lighting!

Outdoor lanterns, like Allsop Home and Garden’s Stella Soji solar lanterns, can be placed throughout your outdoor space. Potted plants and nearby garden areas are ideal spots for the lanterns. During the day the lanterns add a whimsical touch. While at night, they highlight your space with a soft glow. The Greenhouse has a nice selection of the Stella Soji lanterns to choose from.

Find a spot to create a cozy nook. The covered porch below provides the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening.  Allsop’s new indoor/outdoor Nova Pendant lantern provides just the right amount of ambiance.


Our custom concrete poured fire pit is my favorite feature of our backyard. In a time where family meals are scarce, our fire pit brings us all together. Whether it’s roasting hot dogs for dinner or simply sitting by the fire, we all enjoy it. Plus, there’s the s’mores….’nuf said.

The naturally reclining Adirondack chairs provide the ideal laid back vibes for a casual summer evening. Add a lumbar pillow and a cozy blanket, and you’re all set! The Greenhouse has a fun and colorful selection to choose from (see here on their Instagram page).

Backyards are all about the fun! No matter what size of yard you have, you can always find space for a favorite outdoor activity. Here are just a few options:

  • Sport courts are great for a variety of activities from basketball to chalk art.
  • Grassy areas are perfect for the old standby games of badminton or croquet.  You can get creative with these fun ideas from Pinterest, including a do-it-yourself Twister game (click here).
  • Games like Giant Jenga or Ladder Toss can fit into most any space!
  • And let’s certainly not forget that your backyard was made for big and little kid hi jinx of a water balloon fight!  This was a favorite of our Golden Retriever, Dasher!  He loved catching the balloons and nibbling on them until they popped….then he would re-new his search for another water balloon!!

So as we sink into the heart of summer, make sure to truly enjoy your outdoor space before it’s too late!

Stay tuned for the fabulous s’mores party…

Thanks to the following:

Amy Slusher Photos:



Allsop’s Home and Garden:



Ormolulu, Debi Burton and Jim Blondeau:



Mia’s Cupcakes (homemade marshmallows in the S’mores blog post):



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