Ten Easy Outdoor Party Ideas

The beaches are filling up, temperatures are rising, and the long lines at our favorite restaurants are starting to remind us just how lucky we are to live in a place where millions of people want to visit every year. That’s right…it’s summertime again on the Outer Banks! And now that we’ve all finally come out of what seemed to be the longest hibernation to date, it’s time to celebrate life on this beautiful island of ours. 

While boating, fishing, and catching waves rank high among many of our favorite warm-weather pastimes, nothing says summer celebration quite like an Outer Banks outdoor party. So start making a list of your nearest and dearest, and get ready to take your parties outside for the summer.

While simply living on the Outer Banks is reason enough to celebrate, you might realize you’re in need of a few ways to entertain guests during your summertime soirée. Here are some easy ideas we came up with to suit an array of hosting styles that will get you out of the house and into your happiest summertime party yet!  

Boho-Style Backyard Party

If you’re looking for a way to unwind in a peaceful atmosphere, turn your backyard into a boho lounge, complete with over-stuffed bean bags, hammocks, or even a repurposed trampoline lounge swing…anything that will provide you and your guests the opportunity to relax in a positive environment. 

Be sure to find the right lights, provide ample cushions, candles, and even use eclectic dishes found at a thrift store or parts of sets you have around the house to create a more laid-back, relaxed, and creatively stylish feel to your boho soirée.  

Skip the tablecloths and disposable products, and go for a natural feel with uncovered tables and cloth napkins instead paper ones. These details will double as durable, eco-friendly cleanup options that won’t fly away in the summer breeze.

Encourage laughter and good times by hanging old picture frames in a tree, or set up props in a well-lit, pretty area to keep quirky photo-ops an entertaining possibility throughout the party. 

Celestial Gathering

If you’re looking for a reason to host a party every month, consider a celestial gathering to celebrate the full moon. These gatherings will give you and your guests a reason to come together under the sky’s biggest night light for an evening of laughter and dancing. 

Allow the fun to unfold throughout the night with plenty of additional lighting as well. Paper lanterns or small, twinkling rice lights draped on tree limbs with dark extension cords that blend in with the surroundings will provide an uplifting amount of ambience without trying to outdo her majesty, the moon. 

Be sure to include a few citronella candles around the perimeter of the party, as we all know that the Outer Banks landscape we cherish can sometimes harbor uninvited insects. For a romantic twist, string up an old chandelier from a tree to create the ultimate gathering space for your celestial celebration.  

Planting Party

Perfect for spring or early-summer parties, a planting party, focused around planting and growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs that thrive on the Outer Banks is an excellent idea…especially for your fellow gardening friends! 

Succulent-planting stations, for example, provide the perfect backdrop for some fun and rewarding quality time, and they also produce great party favors for guests to take home when the planting is complete. Succulents require very little upkeep and can be beautiful additions to your summer outdoor gardens or patios, plus they’re cheerful indoor window plants year-round. Also, a sea oat planting partiy hosted by oceanfront homeowners can double as both a good time and a good cause.  

Silent Disco 

If you live in a populated area or a quiet neighborhood, but you want to enjoy an outdoor evening of loud music and dancing, invite your friends over for a silent disco. Mostly seen at music festivals and large outdoor events, a silent disco works like this: When the party wants to jump on the dance floor, everyone puts on headphones that are linked (usually by Bluetooth) to the same playlist so that everyone is dancing to the same song at the same time. 

It’s a fun event for the dancers, a hilarious experience to watch while your friends look as though they’re dancing to nothing, and it’s safe to say you won’t get a noise complaint from the neighbors. 

Grown-Up Field Day 

I’m sure some of you remember the good old days, when getting a blue ribbon in the three-legged race during your elementary school field day was the highlight of your week. Well, bring back a little of that nostalgia and childhood whimsy with your own version of a grown-up field day. 

Invite your most adventurous, fun-loving friends and family over, and set up stations for your guests to circulate through, including outdoor Twister (where you mark Twister spots on the yard with spray paint), and other stations that feature challenges such as a life-sized Jenga set. The possibilities are endless! 

When you’re ready for your team sports event, make your way over to the Slip n’ Slide Kickball field, where each base is a kiddie pool filled with water – though instead of running the bases you glide belly-first down a Slip n’ Slide. Now, we know it’s not fair to keep all of this fun to ourselves, so if you want to invite the kids to this one and make it an outdoor family party, we guess that’s okay too. 

Outdoor Movie Night 

For a more relaxed, intimate affair, drape a sheet over a tree or pin one to a clothesline to create your own movie screen. Get a projector to show your favorite movie, and offer your guests clean, comfy blankets to snuggle with under the stars. Upon your guests’ arrival, display your blankets in a large basket with a chalkboard sign that reads, “Snuggle Up,” in case they need a little direction. 

Fire pits and s’mores stations are perfect for outdoor movie nights too. Offer different types of chocolate, crackers, marshmallows, and assorted fruit accoutrements with a pretty and fun s’mores menu that suggests some creative choco-concoctions to liven things up a bit! 

Seashell Hunt

Put an Outer Banks spin on an old favorite. Step one: Take a relaxing walk on the beach, and find a good amount of shells. Step two: Hide them around your yard. Step three: Invite your friends over to see who can find the most shells before the timer runs out. Step four: Be creative. Your hiding spots, the time length, and even the prizes you have on hand for the winner can vary depending on your guests’ senses of humor. For decoration, fill colorful buckets with sand and wildflowers to complement the theme. 

Theme Parties

Theme parties aren’t just reserved for Halloween – they’re perfect for Outer Banks outdoor summertime parties too. If you’re looking for a fun way to shake off the work week and get your friends together to let loose a little, host a theme party in your backyard! 

Call it a pirate party, serve up your favorite swashbuckling Kill Devil Rum cocktails in big coconut mugs, and be sure to make all your cocktails on a bar cart in case you need to wheel it into the kitchen to restock. Or, if it’s something more cultural you’re looking for, try hosting an Outer Banks fiesta. Decorate with succulents, ask your guests to attend in their best southwestern attire, serve tasty authentic Mexican food bites…and, of course, there must be a piñata! 

Tournament Party

Foster a fun, healthy sense of competition among your family and friends by hosting a tournament party! Invite the players, but don’t inform them of the game. When they show up, hand everyone a croquet mallet, for example, and let the games begin. Find out which of your loved ones is a master croquet player while serving fresh-squeezed lemonade and finger foods such as tea sandwiches and scones. For those of your friends would not be amused, set up a more common tournament party, like cornhole or bocce ball, and may the best team win!  

Sunset Dinner Party 

There are two things that can thankfully  be found in abundance here on the Outer Banks: spectacular sunsets and incomparable, delicious seafood. Put them both together and you don’t need anything else for your party but a cold drink and an appetite! 

Host a sunset seafood feast for your closest friends and family, and time it to begin an hour before the sun goes down, so that as you’re enjoying the last bites of your Carolina blue crabs or your local shrimp, you and your guests can witness one of the Outer Banks’ main attractions. Don’t forget to use brown craft paper as a tablecloth; it makes for easy cleanup and can be a fun way for guests to personalize their spot at the table. 

After the sun goes down, remember that comfortable seating options will keep your guests socializing and enjoying the party even longer. Bring the indoors outside with a space that easily flows from your house to the great outdoors, allowing for more comfort, space, and ease. Thick, comfortable seat cushions and outdoor couches will encourage conversation well into the night! 

No matter what style of host you are, or how you choose to entertain your guests this summer season, keep an open appreciation of the beautiful place in which we live, and use the natural wonder of the Outer Banks itself to guide your celebrations for the remainder of the season. Happy summer! ♦

Abby Stewart is a writer from Currituck who loves the outdoors and celebrates the beauty of the Outer Banks every chance she gets.

Abby Stewart
Abby Stewart is a freelance writer who lives in Currituck County but has spent most of her summers on the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks.

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