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  • A fire pit serves as a great spot to enjoy appetizers or post dinner drinks when entertaining outdoors. Pillows and throws make the space more comfortable and inviting. Photo by: Mariani Landscape Architecture.
  • This outdoor dining table is located near the grill and indoor kitchen for convenience. Floral arrangements and well laid out place settings take this gathering above and beyond the typical backyard BBQ. Photo by: Mariani Landscape Architecture.
  • As night falls, the glow from the fire, as well as the light from the lanterns, will create a soft fanciful ambiance. What a perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine! Photo by: Mariani Landscape Architecture.
  • While not an actual rug, the paving pattern on this patio designates the space in front of the fireplace as its own special area. Photo by: Mariani Landscape Architecture.
  • Add music to your garden to turn it into the ultimate entertaining spot. In a space like this, wireless speakers that look like stones or blend into the foliage can be used to play your favorite tunes right from your smartphone. Photo by: Mariani Landscape Architecture.
  • 1. Designated Spaces

    Bringing the indoors outside is a wonderful way to make guests feel comfortable when hosting outdoors. Designated areas that feel like “rooms” help with functionality and flow while still bringing an appealing aesthetic. Tony LoBello, design director at Mariani Landscape Architecture, in Illinois, creates these vignettes by using outdoor rugs, large dining tables, vines and florals to define smaller spaces.

  • 2. Mood Lighting

    When hosting dinner outdoors, it is important for guests to be able to see each other without spotlights and bright patio lighting. To help set the mood, LoBello suggests strung globe lights, lanterns or chandeliers to create a soft, fanciful ambiance. Pergolas, while primarily used for shade during the day, are wonderful structures to hang lighting from for evening entertaining, as well.

  • 3. Music

    No party should ever be without music! Background music helps guests to relax (or rev up!) and sets the tone for the event. With all of the wonderful wireless technology, it’s super easy to install speakers throughout the space that hook up to a smartphone or Bluetooth device. LoBello and the design team at Mariani have a wealth of experience installing speakers that replicate stones or blend into the foliage, which has become a popular option in landscape design.

  • 4. Proximity to Kitchen

    Hosting guests can be a big feat, so anything you can do to make the process easier for yourself is essential. LoBello recommends creating the dining space in close proximity to the barbecue or an entrance into the house so as to save time running between the table and the kitchen.

  • 5. Beverages

    One of the keys to a successful party are ice cold libations! Keeping beverages on hand and accessible to you and your guests will make everyone comfortable — guests won’t have to bother you every time they need a refill and you won’t have to play bartender. There are many festive ways to display drinks, such as rolling bar carts, galvanized tubs and built-in outdoor coolers and refrigerators. As long as the drinks in hand are cold and tasty, guests will be happy, says LoBello.


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