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Backyard party tips

Backyard Party Tips from a Pro

Party planner extraordinaire Maddy K shares five must-haves for the perfect outdoor event.

Madeleine Kojakian is the mastermind behind Maddy K Events Atelier. She’s responsible for some of Montreal’s most memorable and luxurious events, including Bridal Boudoir, as well as many corporate and private retreats and fundraisers.

1. Mason jars

Yes, they’re still in. Mason jars were made for outdoor events – use them for drinks or cutlery, or for holding food like veggies and dip, salads and even BBQ sauce for ribs. If you’re working with a particular colour or style theme, cover mason jars in matching wrapping paper or spray paint.

Mason jars

2. Brown bags

Serve snacks in paper lunch bags. Cut off the tops of the bags and fill them with chips or popcorn – this will avoid any mess and make them easy to grab and go. The best part: When guests are done, the bags go straight into the recycling bin.

Brown bags

3. Colourful straws

Using colourful Japanese washi tape, wrap a portion of your straws in tapes of different patterns. You can even make a flag: Wrap a 1.5-inch strip around the upper portion of the straw, securing the ends to each other (about an inch), then snip a triangle out of the center with scissors. It’s an easy way for guests to identify their drinks, and the coverings can be tied in with your overarching party theme.

Colourful straws

4. DIY table runner

Thick and luxurious wrapping paper (or wallpaper) can add the perfect pop of colour to an outdoor dining or coffee table. Just spread a strip of paper down the centre of the table like a runner – it’s easy and no-fuss to set up, plus you won’t worry about it getting stained.

DIY table runner

5. Mood lighting

If hosting an evening BBQ party, incorporate many different sources of soft light. It can transform an outdoor space and instantly fill an alfresco party with atmosphere and whimsy. Use candles, hurricane lanterns and even fairy lights placed strategically around the bar, near entrances and in the powder room. Soft lighting is universally flattering and prevents guests from tripping over any uneven ground.

Mood lighting

6. Self-serve stations

Invest in glass beverage dispensers for a self-serve drink station – it will save a lot of time throughout the day. Fill the dispensers with cocktails, mocktails or even flavoured water – think of refreshing combinations like cucumber and mint or watermelon and basil. Some dispensers come with a blackboard for writing out the flavour, or you can buy small boards and create your own signage. Just don’t forget to place colour-coordinated disposable cups nearby.

Self-serve station