screened in deck

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

All images courtesy of Brazilian Wood Depot

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, since finishing our deck last year, we now basically live outside from May through September. A deck is the perfect place to relax – if you don’t currently have one, I would highly recommend either building one yourself or having one installed.

In my post on Tuesday, I talked about investing in high quality building materials. If you’re planning to upgrade your outdoor space, check out the beautiful, natural decking options at Brazilian Wood Depot. I also mentioned that we’re currently in the market for a new fence – I love their vertical Ipe fence with its gorgeous hardwood and keeps everything looking fresh, neat and will last years!

A deck is the perfect gathering space when the weather cooperates. We have ours set up with three different sections for entertaining – a bar area, a dining area, and a conversation area. This setup works well for seamlessly moving from cocktails to dinner to an evening of chatting and relaxing. Read on for more tips for throwing a fun and casual get together out on the deck.

  1. The guest list

Keep it on the smaller side. Three or four couples is a great size for mingling and still getting enough quality time with every guest. Plus, you want to be sure everyone fits comfortably on your deck!

  1. Cocktails

I love the classic summer cocktails like an Aperol Spritz or a Pimm’s Cup. Sangria is also a favorite – especially a classic red sangria. Since cocktails are basically limitless, I often just serve one signature offering at parties to avoid bringing out our entire liquor stash.

A bottle of rosé and a case of summer shandy are also musts, as well as sparkling water and plain, unadulterated lemonade.

  1. What to servewooden front porch

You could always fire up the grill (keep it well away from your wooden deck, of course) and make all the traditional picnic sides. Otherwise, I’m all about charcuterie boards and sometimes like to make a heavier one as a meal. One of our favorites is a Caprese board. It’s so delicious – even the six-year-old demolishes this board.

Here’s what you need to create the Caprese board (quantities depend on how many you’re serving, err on the side of extra because this goes quickly!): sliced Italian bread, sliced vine-ripened tomatoes, basil leaves, good salami, fresh mozzarella cheese, olives, and dipping oil for the bread (I use this Bravo dupe). Simply arrange as you would any charcuterie board and enjoy.

If you go the Caprese board route, you’re going to need to supplement with a salad and another heavy hors d’oeuvre or two. One of my favorite summer salads right now is spring mix with grilled peaches, crumbled Boursin cheese, chopped walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette. This Old Bay crab dip with Ritz crackers is very on brand and obviously needs a spot on your table and mine. If you make this crab dip, please add me to #1 above.

For dessert, keep it simple. Pick up a pound cake at the bakery and serve with sliced berries or peaches and fresh whipped cream.

  1. What to wear

One day, I will stop waxing poetic about my Julia Amory ruffle dress, but today is not that day. A flowing dress with sandals is a chic, comfortable look for an evening outdoors with friends. I also love a shift dress, which can be dressed down for the backyard with flip-flops and a ponytail.

Much of the time, it stays pretty warm through the evening here, but if you’re further north or on the water, definitely keep a pareo on hand and a few extras to lend to your guests if needed.

  1. Ambience

Unfortunately, you can only control so much of the ambience outdoors. Our neighbors’ kids are noisy and own a trampoline. The trampoline enables them to bounce high enough to repeatedly peer over the fence. The party must go on. Laugh it off or toss some crab dip over the fence.

A bigger problem than trampoline kids are mosquitoes. For the past two summers, we’ve had a lawn service spray our lawn, and it has worked wonders If you’d rather not use chemicals, make sure to set out citronella candles and torches.

I always mean to make a playlist for parties and rarely do. We usually get busy chatting and don’t miss them, but I would happily start an algorithm-driven playlist with this song.

  1. Table setting

Another good reason to go the heavy hors d’oeuvre route is to minimize bringing a lot of your tabletop items outdoors. Although I love a long outdoor table set with block prints and candlelight, for a casual gathering, you don’t need much. Set out cocktail and full-size napkins, use melamine plates to avoid shattered glass on your deck, and place a few jelly jars of flowers around your table, coffee table and bar. If you want to go a bit bigger, I saw this on Instagram the other day. We have this exact cooler, so I’m planning to recreate it at some point.

I hope you found these tips helpful – happy deck building and outdoor entertaining!