Must-Haves That Make Outdoor Entertaining Easy

Must-Haves That Make Outdoor Entertaining Easy

By Diana Elizabeth Steffen

Hosting a party outdoors is my favorite thing because I can invite more friends—and there is so much more to enjoy in the open air! We entertain biweekly and sometimes multiple times a week. It all depends on our schedule and the weather.

Most Americans love outdoor dining and entertaining, too. Here are a few of my must-haves to maximize the great outdoors with friends! Full disclosure: I own some of these items and hope to install others! 

The quick list:

  • Seating
  • Melamine or plastic flatware
  • Shade
  • A way to keep beverages cool
  • Outdoor lighting
  • Outdoor bins for trash
  • Ceiling fans or misting cooling systems
  • Citronella candles
  • Seating

    If you are hosting a large party, you may need additional seating. Lightweight folding or stackable chairs are always a great choice if you don’t have enough.

    These stackable dining chairs from Paddy O’ are a great, lightweight option! They have the Mission Dining Chairs which are a sling chair or the Glendale Dining Chair which is woven.

    You could always set out picnic blankets or old quilts, which you can find at a store as well! Don’t forget to bring out the pillows! 

    Melamine or plastic flatware

    Investing in melamine dishes is a smart idea with so much action going on outside! The dishes are lightweight, durable and affordable. This neutral melamine set is available from Amazon.


    Even on days with great weather, people love the shade! Covered porches are ideal for al fresco dining, but umbrellas can work, too. An umbrella's portability and flexibility allow it to be moved and positioned wherever needed. I love my Cantilever Umbrella from Paddy O' Furniture. It easily shades an 84-inch table, and I can roll it and tilt it as the sun moves! Take a peek at Paddy O’s available umbrellas here

    A way to keep beverages cool

    Keeping drinks cold is essential when you are having a gathering. That is why I love portable wine chillers like these that can sit on the table and keep a bottle cold without using ice.

    I also have an outdoor end table that is an ice bucket table. This is from Paddy O’ Furniture and I love the way it looks! When it’s not being used as an ice bucket, it works perfectly as an end table.

    This planter box below can be used as a planter or flipped over to be a shelf. I use the planter as an ice bin, filling it with ice for cold drinks!

    Outdoor lighting

    In addition to cafe string lights, outdoor lamps make outdoor gatherings and play time last longer—and they allow your guests to see the food! I have used dining table lamps and placed them on the buffet table.

    These rechargeable cordless table lamps come in various colors and floor lamp versions as well!

    I prefer rechargeable cordless table lamps. They come in a variety of colors and bases in different shapes and sizes. There are also lamps with adjustable heights that can be used for various needs and settings.

    Outdoor bins for trash

    Guests will always need a place to put their garbage, but outdoor bins rarely look good! If you missed my previous blog post about creating a pleasing aesthetic with “hidden” outdoor bins, check it out here.

    Ceiling fans or misting cooling systems

    At some point in the near future, we would like to add a ceiling fan to make spring weather last longer in Phoenix! A ceiling fan under a porch can be enjoyable, but it must provide enough clearance for guests moving about. An alternative is to place misters around your patio strategically! You can find DIY mister kits online. 

    Citronella candles

    Keeping the bugs away is an ongoing priority when entertaining outdoors. This can be accomplished with a fire table, but I like to cover an even wider area with a few citronella candles.

    Featuring 60x30 Rectangular Fire pit from Paddy O’

    You can find attractive citronella candles, or basic ones, at places like The Home Depot, Home Goods, or Amazon. My favorite is the larger, multi-wick MacKenzie-Childs candle because of its metal container and wooden cover!

    However you decide to set up your outdoor get-together, just remember to have fun when entertaining! I hope my list of must-haves makes you feel ready to host outdoor gatherings confidently and comfortably!

    Diana Elizabeth Steffen is a Phoenix-based photographer and blogger at, where she shares her home and garden projects with her camera in hand!

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