So why do it? Because planning outdoor events is a test of your planning confidence - if all goes well, you'll be congratulated for the success by all those happy attendees, saying, "I'm glad we got to go outdoors."
To make sure all goes well, here are a number of logistical steps and checklists to help smooth the way.
First, try to meet at the event location with your suppliers, to be sure they will be able to provide what you need. ASK:
- room for staging for a band
- electricity available
- cell phone coverage or alternate form of communiciation
- parking available for attendees' ground transportation, catering trucks and equipment trucks
Am I responsible for
- permits (including one from the health department)
- furniture and linens
- a refrigerated truck to store perishable food
- garbage removal
Let your guests know what is expected of them.
Be sure to
- specify a dress code. Attendees should know what types of shoes to avoid or if they should bring a sweater.
- advise guests not to wear aftershave or perfume. Perfumes are flower-based and attract bees and wasps. Guests who are warm, perspiring or wearing perfume are the best targets.
- let them know the ground conditions. If some women will be in high heels, arrange the area so that part of it has a solid area, such as a sidewalk or parking lot. A lady in high heels would sink into a grassy area. An alternative would be to lay out a portable dance floor so there is something solid to stand on.
Finally, when preparing the site, especially a garden location, be aware that bugs and bees also find flowers attractive. What's more, right colors and food attract bees and yellowjackets, and mosquitoes love warm, moist, moving bodies, carbon dioxide (produced by breathing) and dark, non-reflective clothing.
To deal with pests at an outdoor party
- request that the lawn be mowed short, so that tables will be level, linens will hang properly and mosquitoes will not not hide in the grass.
- have the area sprayed six hours before the event with an environmentally friendly solution.There is a fogger available that vaporizes an insecticide called resmethrin, which is a low-toxicity pesticide that's people-friendly.
- incorporate sprigs of the citrosa plant into centerpieces and floral arrangements. The citrosa plant emits an odor of citronella that repels mosquitoes, but because of the odor, should be used some distance from food. Consider citronella tiki torches.
- get 'em drunk (seriously). At buffet tables and close to each dining table, place a saucer filled with equal parts of honey and beer. This will draw the bees away from guests' plates; they will circle woozily around the saucer, eventually falling in. (These saucers must be changed constantly, as a saucer full of drunk bees would be an unappetizing site on a buffet.)
Coming: Food at Outdoor Events
For more outdoor planning advise, read Outdoor Events, Part I: Site Selection and Tip: When Meeting at a Resort, Try Meeting Outside.