Outdoor Entertaining at Night
What You Need to Know
The summer months are full of outdoor entertaining, graduation parties, holiday celebrations, backyard barbecues, and other social gatherings. While most of these activities begin during the daylight hours, the fun often extends long after the sun sets. Hosting large groups for outdoor events at night comes with its own set of challenges, however. Here’s how to keep the good times rolling well into the evening.
Let There Be Light
Lighting helps set a party’s ambiance, but it’s also critical for keeping guests safe. Decorative lighting, such as stringing twinkle lights along a fence or hanging paper lanterns from trees, is fun and creative, but it’s not enough to provide ample illumination for large outdoor entertaining events. The lighting also needs to extend beyond just the party area. Anywhere guests may be, like parking areas, restrooms, walking paths, and smoking areas, needs to be well lit.
Go with the Glow
Even when lighting is present, many individuals have difficulty seeing at night. This heightens the importance of making sure deck railings are secure and stairs are stable. Steps and inclined surfaces also should be covered with glow-in-the-dark tape so guests can get around more easily. If stumps, holes, rocks, or other obstacles are in the yard, have them removed, cordoned off, or at least clearly marked with luminescent reflective material. The chance of falls increases at night, so make sure a first-aid kit is nearby.
If you’re partying into the evening, chances are there will be unwanted guests showing up, from moths attracted to the light to mosquitoes coming by for a bite. Having a screened patio or deck will keep you and your guests safe, and it’s especially helpful for keeping food and drink stations bug-free. If the event is under a tent, put up screened walls to keep bugs out and guests warm. Additionally, placing citronella candles around the patio or deck and tiki torches around the yard will help repel some species.
It’s always important to inspect decks and other outdoor structures before outdoor entertaining, but it takes on added significance when large groups are gathering at night. As the sun goes down, it becomes more difficult to get an effective head count of who is on the deck, which is important to make sure weight limits aren’t exceeded, thus causing a deck collapse. Guests also tend to gravitate toward decks at night, as opposed to the daytime hours when various activities have individuals spread out on the lawn.
For many, the best part of outdoor entertaining at night is gathering around the fire, but that only holds true while proper fire safety protocol is being followed. It may be a party, but that doesn’t mean guests can go easy on the rules. Make sure no one is wearing loose-fitting clothing or engaging in horseplay around the fire, and never leave children around an open flame unattended. Always have a shovel, water, and fire extinguisher nearby, and never start a fire on a windy night. Even if there’s no fire pit, many late-night soirees make use of candles, and that also can present a fire hazard on windy nights or if streamers, tablecloths, and other decorations come in contact with the flame. For a similar, yet safer, lighting effect, use battery-operated flameless candles.
From deck repair to walking path installation, Excel Fencing & Decking has the products and services to make your next backyard event an outstanding one. We’ll make sure your structures are safe and secure so you can focus on the fun.