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The ABCs of Hosting a Backyard Party

By Kristine Archer


You’ve picked out the perfect pool, added your dream barbecue and finished the picture with stylish furniture and accessories. But what good is a backyard oasis if you can’t share it with friends and family?

The backyard bash is one of summer’s most common traditions. Once you’ve picked a date and time that works best for you and your guests (as far in advance as possible), the real planning can begin. Whether you’re hosting a huge celebration for dozens of people or a casual backyard barbecue with a few close friends, organization is the key to a successful, stress-free get-together. Thankfully, putting together a party that will impress is as easy as A-B-C.


It always helps to properly set the stage for your party. This can be done by incorporating or customizing specific elements of the gathering, such as a theme, music and décor.

No matter how casual your party is, a well-chosen theme can go a long way to making your get-together more memorable. Themes not only give you direction during the planning process, they also help you exclude unnecessary details and stay focused on the task at hand.

Theme ideas are limited only to your imagination. Some arise naturally—for example, a birthday party or Canada Day celebration has a built-in theme. Your theme can also be inspired by the summer itself. Consider a ‘backyard beach bash,’ or ‘school’s out celebration’ to capture the spirit of the season. Tropical themes inspired by locales such as Mexico or Hawaii also work well in warmer months, especially at pool parties.

Thinking outside the box can also capture your guests’ attention. Why not throw a ‘Christmas in July’ party with holiday- or winter-themed meals, decorations and activities?

Music also goes a long way to create the right ambience for a backyard party. Cater the soundtrack to your guests, as opposed to your own personal tastes. Playing contemporary dance music to a crowd who’d prefer classic ’80s rock will only serve to alienate people and put a damper on the festivities.

In general, a mix of rock and pop music (both modern and classic) is best for an all-adults party. If kids will be present, try adding in a few child-friendly songs or upbeat summertime tracks. Music can also be inspired by whatever theme you choose. For example, calypso or reggae music would be the perfect complement to a tropically themed party, while a selection of hits by Canadian artists would be well suited to a July 1 get-together.

Décor can also be dictated by any theme you may have in place—for example, red and white decorations for Canada Day, bright colours and piñatas for a Mexican theme.

If you’re hosting a nighttime event, consider some creative lighting choices to highlight various areas of the backyard to create more visual interest or enhance your theme. Strategically placed lighting, designed to highlight trees and bushes, can create a romantic or ethereal feel, while candlelight is warm and inviting.

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