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Planning A Backyard Dinner Party

You work hard at making your lawn and garden beautiful, so you should proudly show it off! A dinner party for some close friends or family members is a great way to do so. 

We’re talking about something a bit more formal than a cookout, though. Those are great, too, but sometimes you may want to be able to sit around a table and relax. It’s an opportunity to do something different while enjoying the sun and the brilliant colors and aromas of the outdoors.

Planning such an event takes a little bit of organization. You might also need to rent tables and chairs that are suitable for backyard use. But let’s go over some basic steps to help you decide if you can pull it off and what’s involved. Hopefully, you’ll soon be out back enjoying dinner with people dear to you!

Check Your Yard’s Suitability

Before anything else, you’ll want to make sure your yard is a safe and appropriate place for a sit-down meal. 

First, you’ll need a level, firm area of ground to set up a table and chairs. Be sure there is enough space beyond the table and chairs that people can walk around comfortably. The ground should be hard and level so that nothing will fall over when you place it on the table.

If you have a paved area, you’re one step ahead of the game. Just be sure to allow enough space behind the chairs so that when people push back to stand up, they don’t fall off the edge.

Pick A Date

Of course, you’ll have to decide when to have your party, too. 

Summer is ideal, but you’ll want to avoid the hottest times of the year. If your area has a consistent rainy season, that’s out, too, unless you have a pergola. 

The weeks around Independence Day, high school graduation, First Communions, and other events are often booked for many families, too, so unless your get-together revolves around these, you might want to avoid those times.

It’s good to have a backup plan, because it’s impossible to perfectly predict the weather. That might include a rain date. Or maybe you can stick with the date but move the festivities indoors.

Plan Your Invitation List

Next, think about how many people you want to invite and the limits of your space and seating. Three full-size folding tables can comfortably serve for 12 people, and for this type of dinner, we’d suggest that as a maximum. (If you want something bigger, you might want to consider a catered event, because it would be a lot of work for you to prepare and serve!)

We’d suggest inviting between six and twelve. Let them know the date and time of the event. A call or text message can do the job, but you could mail a formal invitation if you want to set a more formal tone. 

Ask them to let you know by a week ahead of time so you can make adequate preparations.

At the same time, you may want to ask one or two dependable invitees if they can provide some sort of help with the event. That could include set up, cooking, serving, or other needs.

If it’s a potluck, be sure to make that clear and specify what you’d like each person to bring. You might consider a tool like Perfect Potluck to plan such an event!

Double Check Your Tables And Seating

Once you know how many people will be attending, you’ll need to make sure that you have seating and table space for all. 

You might have appropriate furniture already or be able to move a set from inside to outside for the day. However, folding tables and chairs often make more sense. If you don’t already own them, you can usually rent them from a local supplier. Search for “party rentals” on Google to find providers near you.

setting for 4 on the lawn
Part of a larger gathering, but a great example of using a folding table and chairs for an outdoor gathering!

Consider Additional Helpful Supplies

It’s also important to plan early regarding what other supplies you may want to use. 

For instance, since this is a more “formal” event, you may not want to use regular paper plates. However, you can get a nice set of disposable plates that are a bit more durable and look more like dinner plates. Many are even compostable! Similar products are available in flatware and drinkware.

You can use table decorations from inside or get special ones for this occasion.

You’ll want to have serving dishes that can be covered, so that bugs won’t be able to visit.

You might want to have fans on hand, too. They can help keep your guests comfortable in the heat. But at the same time, the blowing air can deter flying insects.

Citronella candles nearby are another way to keep away pests. If the table is large, you could set them in the center. However, the smell is unpleasant to some people, so you might consider having the candles on small tables or other stands a few feet away from the table, like a perimeter guard.

Plan The Menu

Of course, you also have to plan what you’re going to serve. Barbecue options are still a great choice, even with the more formal setting. But you could also cook indoors and carry everything out.

Be sure to have enough food and drinks on hand before the big day and allow yourself enough time that day to prepare everything!

We like to serve our dinners family style – preparing everything and placing it on the table in serving dishes or on platters. That way, no one has to get up to fetch anything, but it’s neither as formal nor as difficult as serving each person individually.


Any get-together is intended to be fun, but it can become stressful for the host, too. Even with careful planning, it can feel a bit tough to make sure everything’s in place.

But remember, this is a day to relax! Yes, there’s a lot to be done. But you’re surrounded by special people who appreciate your effort. Even in the midst of your hosting duties, find the time to relax and enjoy your company and your yard. 


An outdoor dinner gathering in your own backyard is a great way to gather with some special people to show off your yard and enjoy their company. A little planning can make it a fun and relaxing time. Be sure to think ahead about the space and what you’ll need to get ready, even if it means renting it. As long as Mother Nature cooperates, you’ll have an awesome get-together!

About Us

Tom and Sarah Greenwood are the dynamic duo behind “Yards Improved,” dedicated to the joys and challenges of gardening, pool maintenance, and lawn and patio care. With Tom’s passion for landscape design and Sarah’s enthusiastic approach to gardening, they share their journey of transforming their backyard into a thriving retreat. We strive to offer practical advice aimed at helping you enhance your outdoor space.