Outdoor Party Planning: Themes, Tips & Checklist for an Amazing Chicago Party

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Outdoor parties in Chicago should be wonderful and stress-free, including the time spent planning. And it can be with this helpful outdoor party planning guide. This guide for backyard parties, birthday parties, barbecues, corporate occasions and other events has it all: party theme ideas, tips, and a checklist that can help make the occasion incredible.

Outdoor Party Themes

Wonderful outdoor party planning starts with a theme. A party theme gives party planners direction and ensures that every detail (i.e. invitation design, décor, etc.) is coordinated into a fun party atmosphere. Even a menu can be a part of a fun theme, such as a classic barbecue menu with lemonade and other fun cocktails for a classic picnic theme.

  • Classic Picnic
  • Under the Sea/Mermaid
  • Patriotic
  • Carnival/Fair
  • Garden Party
  • Beer or Wine Tasting
  • Retro Theme (Choose the Era)
  • Great Gatsby
  • Glow-in-the-Dark
  • Tropical
  • Beach Party
  • Fiesta
  • Movie Night
  • Up North Getaway
  • Sports Theme
  • Tea Party
  • Music Theme

Party Planning Checklist

___ Schedule an outdoor party date.

___ Set a budget.

___ Select a location.

___ Choose a party theme.

___ Make a guest list.

___ Send out invites. (Include date, time, address, some hint of attire expected, and RSVP info.)

___ Plan a menu (including drinks).

___ Select party entertainment (i.e. pool, yard games, tasting stations, kid games, etc.) and make a list of everything needed for a fun time.

___ Rent a tent. (Contact a local tent rental company with address of party, date, and estimated size of tent.)

___ Make sure there are enough tables and chairs for all guests invited.

___ Order food and make a list of groceries need for menu. (Consider how to keep food cool or hot to ensure food is kept at safe temperatures.)

___ Make a list of other items needed (i.e. serving dishes, portable bars, popcorn maker, chill table, slushy machine, etc.) and purchase or rent items.

___ Rent or buy décor items.

___ Purchase tableware (plates, cups, etc.)

___ Rent lighting if the party is at night (i.e. string lighting, paper lanterns, etc.)

___ Prior to the party date, contact vendors (i.e. tent rental company, caterer, etc.) to confirm details.

___ If needed, clean up the party location at least a week before the event.

___ Set-up tents, tables, and other items. (Allow plenty of time for set-up.)

___ Put out mosquito-fighting lanterns and other bug busters.

___ Coordinate food service so food is properly stored or kept warm/cold during the party.

Tips for an Amazing Party

  • Put up a backyard party tent to keep guests dry in case of rain or out of the hot sun. (If holding the party at a venue, ask staff if and where tents are allowed.)
  • Always contact local municipalities for ordinances regarding volume and curfews for large gatherings.
  • Create a party layout with easy access to portable bars, chill tables (or tubs), and food service areas so guests have easy access to drinks and refreshments.
  • Include several kinds of entertainment so guests can mingle and enjoy their favorite.
  • Take the party to another level by renting a popcorn machine, slushy machine, or cotton candy machine.
  • Add lounging areas to the party layout so guests can relax and socialize.
  • Use a sound system and microphone to make announcements and blast music.
  • Rent a big screen for presentations and slideshows.
  • Keep drinks cool with chill table and tubs.
  • If music is part of entertainment, rent a dance floor or stage to protect lawns.
  • Don’t forget about lighting if the party may run into the night.
  • If kids are on the guest list, plan entertainment perfect for their age level (i.e. water games, yard games, etc.)
  • Determine if favors are needed for guests and, if so, what type of favor suits the occasion.
  • Consider renting an extra-large grill for huge outdoor parties with a large guest count.
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