One trick I use to put on a great party is to create the ambiance for the party either the evening before or the morning of it. There’s no need to stress out when you can plan ahead! When entertaining outdoors, you have to prepare for your guests to stay past dusk … you should hope they’re having so much fun that they want to stay. I like to use a variety of light sources to create a beautiful atmosphere (you never want it too hot or harsh).
You can get great ambient lighting for little to no cost. Votive candles, paper lanterns, and wooden lanterns filled with large candles can be part of your décor – and they provide the means to make sure your guests can see each other and their food.
Bistro lights are something fun that you can string up for any occasion. They can bring warmth to a gathering and look really pretty strung through tree branches, an arbor, or pergola. I mixed paper lanterns and bistro lights for different textures.
Don’t get too hung up on everything matching or being exactly the same. A little variety looks intentional and can be sophisticated. Once you’ve hung your lights and set out your votives and lanterns around the party, choose a tablecloth for your table. Again, having your party outdoors doesn’t mean that you can’t use items from inside. Use a tablecloth, cloth napkins, and some pillows to add the finishing touches to your outdoor party. Above all, you want your guests to be comfortable.