Backyard Hosting Guide for Memorial Day Weekend

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May 26, 2021

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John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others.

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Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the team at John McClain Design and I put together this easy-to-follow guide for hosting a backyard gathering. Now that warm weather and higher vaccine rates are here, we’re so ready to bring back get-togethers! This month, we want our backyard fun to focus on function — one of the most important elements for bringing a space to life. The footprint sets the tone for the entire experience. Let’s take a look at what we mean:

Seating Arrangements.

When we say function, what we really mean is what is the purpose of the space? Or in this case, the gathering? Is it an intimate event for friends and family? A chance for co-workers and acquaintances to get to know each other while paying tribute to our heroes? The key to creating an amazing event is first deciding on how you’d like it to flow. Where do you envision your guests congregating? For intimate gatherings, for instance, we recommend a long picnic table so guests can all chat as a group. The long picnic table approach may be too intimidating for guests that aren’t already acquainted with one another. In these cases, opt for scattered seating arrangements like traditional round-top tables or hightops if you want to inspire guests to mingle.

The Drink Station. 

Self-service, pre-mixed signature cocktails, or a combination of both? Personally, we’re a sucker for signature cocktails and we’re willing to bet there are pages galore dedicated to stars and stripes renditions on Pinterest. A great self-service hack? Beverage tubs. They work well for arranging bottled water, soda cans and beer, plus guests can easily grab what they want and move on. Extra room in the budget? Set up a minibar and hire a bartender for the day. This not only ensures your guests are staying refreshed, but also frees up time for the host to enjoy the festivities too!

The Food Display. 

Family style dining, buffet table and separate food stations are the most common approaches to serving food when hosting an event. As the name suggests, the family style approach is where all food is already presented in the middle of the table. Perfect for the intimate gathering footprint! The buffet table approach involves a large table where guests grab food in typically an orderly fashion. 

Pro Tip: Stop by your local party supplier to grab some warming trays to keep food toasty throughout the event. If you’re trying to avoid a crowd at the buffet table, then food stations are probably your best bet. Our Memorial Day Suggestion: Create a grill station where the grill master can present their delicious masterpieces just as they come off the grill. Inspire fun by coming up with cute takes on food stations — like including a vintage popcorn machine or making centerpieces out of cookies and candy. 

The Backup Plan. 

Outdoor events equal outdoor risks. Be sure to have a backup plan in case rain finds itself on the agenda. Renting out a tent or taking advantage of covered porch space to place stationary items, like food, drinks and electronic equipment, can make all the difference. 

Got any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

Till next time…
Happy Designs!

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John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others.

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2021

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