12 Easy Inexpensive Tips for Outdoor Entertaining

 the best budget-friendly tips for outdoor entertaining

Spring is finally here! Hooray! The arrival of warmer weather has us planning our outdoor entertaining. After many months of being stuck inside we cannot wait to start grilling and enjoying summer days and nights with friends and family. There’s an ease to outdoor entertaining that makes it so much fun. Jodie and I are casual entertainers, and we both firmly believe that if the host feels relaxed so will your guests. We’ve put together 12 easy and inexpensive tips for outdoor entertaining that we know will help you relax and enjoy.

Jodie and I are SUPER excited and honored be part of the BHG Live Better Influencer Network for 2018. We are compensated when sharing our favorite finds from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart. As always our opinions are our own. You can always enjoy more of the amazing BHG Live Better Influencer Network ideas for outdoor entertaining.

This is Julie’s backyard in the suburbs of Seattle. Set amidst the evergreens it’s a great spot for outdoor get-togethers. Jodie lives in the East Bay of San Francisco. To visit her recent backyard makeover head to our blog post How to Create a Budget-Friendly Outdoor Oasis.

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#1 Keep Food Simple for Outdoor Entertaining

outdoor entertaining made easy

Easy and fresh is always best. Fresh seasonal fruits and veggies are simple, colorful and provide healthy choices for everyone. Salads, snacks and plenty of cold drinks and you’ve got a party!

#2 Add an Umbrella

easy outdoor entertaining

Not only does an umbrella protect your food and guests from the sun and unwelcome weather, it also defines your outdoor dining space. You can add color and character with the right umbrella.

#3 Use Rugs for Outdoor Entertaining

outdoor entertaining ideas

I just bought this amazing indoor-outdoor rug from Better Homes & Gardens sold exclusively at Walmart. It is no exaggeration to say that adding this rug transformed my patio. I couldn’t be happier with the quality or the price. Once again the value of Better Homes & Gardens products makes me simply giddy. Why giddy? I can afford to buy more without any sacrifice. 

outdoor entertaining made easy

Rugs are so important. I might even say rugs are more important outside than inside. Don’t be afraid to put a rug just about anywhere, even on grass.  A rug provides an instant room-like setting.


  • define spaces
  • complete the look of an area
  • add color & style
  • add coziness
  • make your spaces feel like outdoor rooms

#4 Outdoor Pillows

outdoor entertaining fun

If your outdoor furniture is looking faded or weather-worn don’t worry. Before you go out and buy new furniture try changing out the pillows and/or replacing the cushions. This is a great way to make your old furniture look new and can save you a lot. Every few years I buy new outdoor pillows and voila, it’s like a whole new look to my backyard.

My new pillows from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart created the perfect refresh for my whole patio this season. Tons of stylish choices. I had fun mixing and matching patterns. And at such great prices I was able to replace all my pillows under budget.

#5 Use a Throw as a Table Scarf

great ideas for outdoor entertaining


outdoor entertaining tips

Think outside the box for table coverings. I like to use colorful indoor throws and Turkish fouta towels to create a casual but festive table design. They are great to use on tables and also on the ground for a fun picnic feel that works well for almost all outdoor entertaining. Besides choosing less traditional throws and towels I also like to place them on angles to add a bit of dimension.

  • add color & a bit of whimsy with your table covering
  • make it messy to add dimension
  • feels like a picnic
  • casual beach feel
  • place on an angle like a table scarf
  • less traditional look
  • tassels add interest and texture
  • easily maneuver around umbrella pole

#6 Re-purpose Indoor Items

outdoor entertaining made simple

Get creative. Almost anything that works inside can be re-purposed outside for an event. Create outdoor rooms where people can gather, get cozy and relax. Create conversation areas, lounging areas, and provide plenty of seating. Grab chairs from inside. Lay blankets and use pillows and poofs to make comfy areas for relaxing. Or my example below, how about bringing your bar cart outside?

#7 Stock a Bar Cart

outdoor entertaining ideas


outdoor entertaining ideas

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Create a serve yourself drink station using a cute and functional bar cart. Provide extra essentials so guests can help themselves. Less back and forth to the kitchen means more time to enjoy your guests.

#8 Fresh Flowers for Outdoor Entertaining

outdoor entertaiing made easy

Fresh flowers are a must, but don’t think you have to spend a lot or go fancy. Sometimes simple is just as lovely. Look around and try to cut blooms or greenery from your own yard. Or ask a neighbor if they don’t mind your taking a few (especially if they are invited).

#9 Music

outdoor entertaining ideas

Music is the backbone to a great party. You’ll want yours to create just the right mood. Get your music ready in advance. Create a playlist with music that you know your guests will enjoy. Be sure to not play it too loudly. Then it will be the perfect backdrop to conversation and fun.

#10 Prepare The Grill for Outdoor Entertaining

simple outdoor entertaining

If you’re planning to cook on the grill do your prep work in advance. Especially if you haven’t used it all winter. Make sure it’s clean and ready to go. Do a dry run in advance. Nothing stalls a party like an empty propane tank!

#11 Ask For Help

outdoor entertaining ideas

Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or too for help setting up. Chances are they will feel special that you felt close enough to ask them! Make the “set up” party just as fun: start the music, get your drinks, and do some taste testing of the food. With the right atmosphere your early helpers will feel spoiled and will offer to come early to all your events.

#12 Make it a Pot Luck

outdoor entertaining tips

Why take on all the work and expense yourself? These days no one expects the host to handle everything. Friends and family are grateful to those willing to host, and everyone is aware of the work involved. So don’t be shy about asking for everyone to bring a dish. If you like to maintain control you can keep it organized in a variety of ways. You can ask for volunteers and suggest people get back to you with what they are bringing. Or the easiest is to assign people an appetizer, salad, or dessert. This frees you up to focus on setting the stage (which is my favorite part of course.)

Now if you’re a foodie, and you live to showcase your culinary talents, then You Go Girl!

Create Your Outdoor Entertaining Space

outdoor entertaining fun

Set The Stage for Outdoor Entertaining

Your outdoor entertaining space is your chance to get really creative. Since you are creating an event you can have fun borrowing from inside your home. What normally is reserved for indoor use  can be pulled outside and used temporarily. As long as the weather holds out you’re good. I absolutely love to see cute indoor furniture brought out to the garden. Create a casual, relaxed, festive atmosphere using:

  • pillows
  • rugs
  • repurposed indoor items
  • fresh flowers
  • outdoor string lights
  • pots with plants and flowers
  • lanterns, for day and night entertaining
  • garden stools
  • throws

Let creativity be your guide. Better Homes & Gardens Brand sold exclusively at Walmart has so many stylish and well-priced options you can add just the right details to make your space complete.

outdoor entertaining ideas

Outdoor Entertaining Made Easy

  • Prepare in advance
  • Have no-fuss serving stations
  • Simplify the menu
  • Pot-luck
  • Enlist help

When the hostess has fun everyone has more fun!  If your guests see you working hard they feel like they need to work too. We think that if you follow these tips you will be able to create seemingly effortless outdoor entertaining. And the easier it is the more fun you’ll have. Do a little prep work, keep it simple, ask for help, and ENJOY!

Happy Entertaining!

With love,

jodie & julie

For more outdoor entertaining ideas be sure to visit these follower favorites, as well as the Better Homes and Gardens website.

How to Hang String Lights Video & Easy Tutorial

Easy Tutorial to Create a Stunning Garden Chandelier

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12 Easy Inexpensive Tips for Outdoor Entertaining
Article Name
12 Easy Inexpensive Tips for Outdoor Entertaining
Outdoor entertaining made easy with these 12 helpful tips. With a little creativity, some prep work and these simple ideas you'll enjoy your parties as much as your guests!
Publisher Name
The Design Twins
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  1. Debbie says:

    Love all your tips! Your outdoor space is beautiful!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you so much Debbie! That means a lot. Thank you for visitng our blog and for taking the time to leave a reply. Hope you continue to visit and enjoy. With gratitude, Julie & Jodie

  2. Awwww, you are too sweet Jodie! I am so blessed to have so many encouraging, positive women in my life! I hope you have a wonderful weekend my friend!!! xo, Kellyann

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you for the sweet comments! You are just too sweet dear friend! Hope you have a wonderful week as well!
      XO ~ Jodie

  3. Ann says:

    Such fun ideas. Can’t wait til we have that kind of weather here in Vermont🤗

  4. Jodi says:

    Such great tips! I like the throw idea to add a softness to our outdoor table! I will be throwing my daughter’s high school graduation party June 2nd so I’ll be sure to use these styling tips.

    Also, it’s so nice to be reminded that we don’t have to have a gourmet meal when entertaining friends, but to keep it simple. I think that’s what keeps many people from having friends over.

    I purchased the black & white striped umbrella from Walmart and I love it!

  5. C. Marie says:

    Lovely! Could you please provide the source of the beverage glasses and matching pitcher?
    Thank You!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      C. Marie, Glad you enjoyed! The glasses are recylcled glass from HomeGoods last summer. And the glass pitcher is from Target this spring. Hope you can find them 🙂 Blessings, Julie

  6. Becky says:

    Where did the cute green glass glasses and pitcher come from? So perfect!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Becky, The glasses are recycled glass from HomeGoods last summer. And the glass pitcher is from Target this spring. Hope you can find the glasses. Happy Hunting, Julie

  7. Julie Gardner says:

    Beautiful setting! Would you plese let me know of where you purchased the outdoor dining table? It is wonderful and the perfect scale for my backyard!
    Thank you ~

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Dear Julie,
      The table and the chairs were all from The Home Decorator’s Collection from Home Depot. I bought everything on sale at the beginning of the season last year. Not sure if that was because they were models that were being discontinued. For some reason I think it’s possible this is the case. Still worth a look. Thanks so much for joining us on our blog. Blessings, Julie & Jodie

  8. Great post. So many things I hadn’t thought of. Looking forward to an outdoor dinner party soon. Now to just keep the giant mosquito’s away!

  9. […] week we debuted Julie’s Spring Patio in our blog post “12 Easy Inexpensive Tips for Outdoor Entertaining“. A fresh new pillows brightened up these rocking chairs for a fresh new look. Check out this […]

  10. Awwww, you are too sweet Jodie! I am so blessed to have so many encouraging, positive women in my life! I hope you have a wonderful weekend my friend!!! xo, Kellyann buy viagra

  11. Diane Ray says:

    Could you share where the acrylic turquoise drinking glasses are from?

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Diane,
      The glasses I show are actually recycled glass. I found them last summer at HomeGoods. They were quite inexpensive. Hope you can find them. Blessings, Julie

  12. […] Our outdoor entertaining season is upon us! Be sure to read our recent post all about Outdoor Celebrations and how to make them stress-free and unforgettable, “12 Easy Inexpensive Tips for Outdoor Entertaining“. […]

  13. […] Our outdoor entertaining season is upon us! Be sure to read our recent post all about Outdoor Celebrations and how to make them stress-free and unforgettable, “12 Easy Inexpensive Tips for Outdoor Entertaining“. […]

  14. Greta James says:

    Oh, I love your idea to create a how-to list on making a great drink for yourself with a bar cart! My sister and I are thinking of throwing a big party for all of our college friends as soon as quarantine lifts. We want to enjoy the outdoor air and spend time with all of our friends. We are a little worried about restrooms with that many people. Maybe, we should look into restroom trailers that could also benefit our party.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      That sounds like such a fun idea and something fun to plan and look forward to once it’s safe to get together again. If you are going to invite a lot of people and make it an outdoor party a restroom trailer is a good idea I think.
      Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. We love hearing from you!

      Good luck with your party planning!

      Jodie & Julie

  15. It really helped when you talked about how to plan the best outdoor party! Recently, my wife and I moved into another house, and we want to make a good first impression on our new neighbors. We’d like to install a barbecue grill on our patio and host the best housewarming, so we’ll be sure to look into it and follow your tips! Thanks for the advice on pre-planning our cooking gear and ingredients for our party.

  16. My sister would like to plan an outdoor party this year, and that is why she has decided to start looking for portable toilets. Well, I also agree with you that it would be best to serve fresh fruits and veggies at the said event. Thank you for clarifying here as well the importance of adding some rugs beneath the tables.

  17. I’m thinkig of beautifying my outdoor kitchen by installing an outdoor lightbox in it. Well, I also agree with you that new furniture would be an excellent choice too. Thank you for sharing here as well the importance of adding an umbrella since this will create a better ambiance.

  18. If I were to prepare an outdoor party, I would make sure to buy fireworks. Thank you for sharing here, as well the importance of adding umbrellas and tents fr the guests. I also agree with you that adding color and style for the said event.

  19. […] the chilly winters in Florida, as well as on summer nights when you want to make S’mores and entertain your guests or have a cozy evening with your loved […]

  20. DSP says:

    Thank you for the ideas, Jodie and Julie!

  21. If I were to hold an outdoor party this year, I will rent good quality portable toilets for my guests. Anyhow, I also agree with you that umbrellas must be installed. Thank you for suggesting the importance of serving refreshing drinks too.

  22. John Carston says:

    It helped when you said that outdoor events could provide the joy that we didn’t feel because of the pandemic. This upcoming holidays, my spouse and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, I want to surprise her with a boat concert venue for our family gathering. I’m glad for the tips about choosing outdoor event venue rentals. I’ll consult a premiere outdoor event venue to see if I can make a reservation.

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