It’s finally happening. The blooms are showing their faces on the branches once again, and the air is trading the scent of roasted oysters for fresh jasmine. It’s the time of year to break free from looking at four walls and to give that side porch with the haint blue ceiling some use. It’s time to go outside in the Lowcountry.
Because it’s just so darn sweet, this time of year plays host to a number of events. Wedding showers are followed by Easter dinners that turn into Mother’s Day brunches. By spring’s end, everyone is celebrating something or someone special. Now is the window of perfection so take it outside! Luckily, we have the tips to make your patio party the best celebration of the season.
Don’t Skip Cocktail Hour
The South is meant to have a slow pace where people enjoy the aesthetics and the company alike. A cocktail hour presents the perfect time to mingle before the main event. Why not turn cocktail hour into a garden wine tasting? This also makes for an excuse to venture to Mount Pleasant’s Old Village district and pop into Leeah’s Old Village Wine Shop for a huge selection of wines from across the globe, as well as a host of interesting craft beers. The shop, tucked away in one of the Lowcountry’s most charming neighborhoods, will serve as your mood board. Owner Ebony Mullins is glad to help you out and offered this advice: “The perfect outdoor party starts with a glass of bubbles. The rest of the day, go with light and bright white wine. Start with Viognier or Pinot Grigio. As the sun goes down, feel free to move on to Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.”
To complete the perfect cocktail hour, offer some charcuterie boards curated by Charleston Coastal Charcuterie. They can work with you to find the perfect pairings for your drink choices, and the charcuterie will serve as a nice appetizer – not to mention offer eye-catching appeal.
Use Light and Nature
Décor sets the stage for any party. The outdoors offers a unique chance to integrate nature into the look of the event. Make sure the space is well-manicured, but have fun playing with what already exists as you weave into the landscape. Be especially mindful when working out the lighting. Flipping on a porch light will not do the trick.
According to professional designer Debbie DeLong, “Party lighting is crucial for giving any celebration that extra dose of pizzazz. If you want to throw an outdoor event, remember you’ll need to consider lighting. It will boost the ambience and set the tone for a magical time.”
The lighting for outdoor parties could look like anything from string lights draped along a live oak to floating lanterns glistening in the pool. A lot depends on the landscape and access to electrical outlets, but many situations are doable. As long as what is chosen is intentional and on point with the rest of the theme, the goal has been met.
Cater to Your Guests
Food is often the headliner of any event. The food should be delicious whether it is served as light hors d’oeuvres or a full sit-down meal. The fare should be curated with carefully selected serving pieces and settings. However, it shouldn’t be a source of stress. A person could lose their mind trying to make sure the plates match up not only with the number of guests and the actual food served, but also the theme. Fortunately, you can leave a lot to the professionals. Dish and Design Catering is the best one-stop shop for everything you’ll need to guarantee a swoon-worthy cuisine experience.
In the words of owner Anja Stief, “I love catering because it brings friends and family together. I get to help select the perfect menu to make the occasion memorable.”
Keep it Comfortable
Make sure these two things are under control: bugs and temperature. Since it’s still spring, hopefully the heat won’t be in full swing. There’s probably (hopefully) no need for large industrial fans or misting apparatuses. That said, beautiful homemade or Amazon-purchased hand fans at each place setting can add décor and comfort. But you don’t want your guests swatting at South Carolina’s favorite party-crashers with their fans. Opt for some mosquito-repelling torches or tabletop citronella lanterns — hello functional lighting. Finally, consider searching online for homemade bug repellent recipes made from essential oils. They can even make adorable take-home gifts if mixed in an attractive spray bottle.
If you do not want your party to become a concert, the tunes should be a supporting character, not the star. For a less extravagant gathering, try a few strategically placed outdoor speakers on the outskirts of the mingling area. Pump in songs people will know, showing a little artistry and familiarity at once. If the event is more elegant, try a live group positioned within earshot. Often, beginner musicians are willing to offer some tunes at a very low cost or even for free. This is a great idea for fundraisers and private parties and is a way to add more ambience at a fraction of the cost.
We wish you the greatest success with your alfresco affair. May your outdoor event be fondly recalled all summer long, and even into fall.
By Lorna Hollifield