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Our Tips for Successful Outdoor Events | Great Performances


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Our Tips for Successful Outdoor Events
by Beth Kaiserman

We all want to enjoy the summer outside, but unpredictable weather doesn’t make party planning easy. When planning outdoor events, here are some tips to help avoid headaches and keep your guests happy and hydrated.

Cold drinks = happy guests

Number one: bring more ice than necessary. Also bring more drinks than necessary. Read your demographic: are they beer drinkers? Wine? Have cold water and at least one other non-alcoholic drink (seltzer or an infused water) available at all times.

Cook the food, not your guests

Keep in mind that tents trap heat, and plan accordingly. Large fans will cool the tent somewhat and help keep bugs away, but small tower fans won’t do much. Create cool down spots with water misting systems or evaporative cooling units, which are easy to install and more eco-friendly than air conditioners. Consider providing fans or parasols, which can serve as a fun design element and talking point for guests. Plus it gives them something to take home!

Food Selection

Be mindful of menu selections; guests tend to eat lighter fare when the weather is warm. Consider fish and seafood options. Place food on a buffet in smaller quantities, but know you’ll have to replenish it more often. Have your replacement portions ready to go.

Food Protection

If using a dairy-based dressing, consider spreading it on the bottom of a platter and placing the veggies on top. This keeps the dressing from direct sunlight so it stays cooler longer.

Protect the food buffet with popup tents if full tenting is not an option.

If the buffet will be set up for a while before guests eat, make sure food is covered to avoid bugs. Cover dry foods with a napkin and other foods with perforated plastic wrap, which helps the food breathe.

You can use frozen water bottles (Fiji bottles are good because they’re square) underneath salad bowls to keep them cold. When the water thaws, replace with new frozen bottles.

Sun and Rain

Consider both sun and the rain when planning alternatives. Too much time in the sun is never good, and always have a rain backup for an outdoor event. Decide early whether your event will be rain-or-shine, and be mindful of the additional costs for a rain date. Have floor plans for both your regular and rain versions. Don’t forget ponchos or umbrellas for guests!

If your event is on grass and it’s been raining for a few days, bring wood shims to keep the chairs and tables stable. Chairs with wider legs will be easier on soft surfaces.

Exit Strategy

While planners often worry about guests’ arrival, they often forget about how guests will leave when it’s dark outside. Adequate lighting will make the exit easier and safer. Consider the same thing when planning bathroom locations. Also, ensure lighting is available for the staff from setup until break down. The party isn’t over until clean-up is over too.

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