Imagine yourself for a moment on one of your favorite patios. Perhaps it's at a restaurant down the street with a great outdoor space, your best friend's house, or your own. Think about the reasons you love it. As I have observed people, reflected on my own experiences, and spent twenty-plus years entertaining outside at my home, a lake house, and commercial venues for corporate, I would suggest the five reasons below are key:
- It's clean.
- The lighting is excellent with led lanterns, candles, and/or solar lights.
- It feels "bug-free."
- It's got music playing or readily available.
- There is an open bottle of wine with good friends.
Let's break this list and start at the top so we can recreate this fabulous patio at your own home. People make five common mistakes when cleaning their outdoor spaces and patios.
Clean up debris
- Cleaning outside is like cleaning inside; you want to start at the top and work your way down. I start with a leaf blower to clean debris from the top of surfaces, including the siding, to eliminate spider webs, leaves, and tops of the tables and chairs. Then I move to the patio floor and stairs. Battery-operated leaf blowers are my favorite because they are lightweight, quick, and easy.
Open your umbrella
- If you have not used your umbrella in the last day or two, make sure you raise it and clean out any dirt, bugs, or spiders. Adding lights under the umbrella can go a long way. Battery-operated or solar work great and are just purposeful and charming!
Wipe down surfaces
- Many people, when cleaning, often miss wiping down chairs. Use a slightly damp old cloth to wipe down the surfaces people sit on. Nothing is worse than having company over and your friend's white pants dirty from your patio chairs. While you have your cloth out, use it to wipe down the grill, tables, and other surfaces.
Knock down spider webs
- Spider webs often accumulate in places that aren't frequently used. While entertaining on your patio, you tend to use spaces that don't see regular traffic daily and may disturb spiders where they have made a home. Be sure to remove the seat cushions to clean under them and underneath benches and tables. Also, don't forget to look up and clean webs with a broom under eaves, in corners, and around windows. If your space has been heavily infested with spiders and other bugs, getting a can of Raid and spray may be a good idea to prevent them from moving back in.
Clean glass surfaces
- It's time to get the paper towels and Windex. This is where you want to pay attention to what surfaces you see when sitting on your patio. The top of your table, perhaps, glass windows adjacent to the patio, outdoor lights fixtures, and most noticeably, the glass door going in and out the patio.
Other Tips and Tricks
Cleaning is essential, and several other factors make your entertaining space a success! Lighting is critical for safety and ambiance, especially when going into the evening. Think about your space when it's after dark. Where will your light come from that will not attract bugs and provide the ambiance you are looking for? Make sure your outdoor fixtures are clean and in working order. The type of light bulbs in fixtures make an unbelievable difference. Are they too bright? What color of light do they produce? Are the color and brightness the same from all the bulbs? Buying new bulbs is a cheap and easy way to improve your ambiance quickly. Consider adding battery-operated candles, outdoor lanterns, or solar lights as well.
Speaking of after dark, it's definitely when all bugs come out to play and when a fantastic night can be ruined with pests. You can consider fogging the area before your guests arrive, and the best place to do it is the grass around the patio. Alternatively, thermal cell lanterns are fairly efficient at keeping these bugs away. Still, you must ensure that you have enough to cover the area you are entertaining. I always like to have an extra can of bug spray readily available to share if a guest is getting chewed up.
Turn on the Tunes
Now that the patio is clean, the lighting is perfect, and the bugs are under control, let's nail the music. Music can be accomplished in a couple of ways. My favorite method because it's convenient and inexpensive is Amazon Echo Dots. Mine are grouped, so the music follows me through all my entertaining spaces and creates a continuous sound. Each Dot is around $30, so you can literally create round sound throughout your home, patio, front entry, and even garage for about $100. Alternatively, wireless speakers such as Sonos offer a fantastic option with quality sound and are entirely cordless. Music makes people relax, have fun, and stimulates conversation. Choose your favorite apps such as Amazon Music, Spotify, or Apple Music for a great playlist. Play a station such as "summer fun" or "grill and chill."
Get the Drinks Flowing
Lastly, ensure all your guests can walk in the door and enjoy a cocktail or mocktail. I love to make a welcome drink that most will enjoy and go with my "theme" of the event. These are fun drinks and can be done in a variety of ways. Knowing your company and what they prefer to drink is fantastic. Have beers on ice, wine glasses laid out with a bottle or two open, and water readily available. If this is a dinner occasion, set that expectation. If it is just a happy hour, that's great; have a few good snacks available.
Cheers to a beautiful summer gathering on your clean patio with good friends!
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