By Anita Winter
If you are pressed for cash this summer yet you still want to entertain company, don't panic about the cost. You can start with a blank slate and end up with a terrific outdoor oasis for less than you realize. There are tricks and tips to finding perfect outdoor items for less. The below information will show you how to utilize items around your home as well as give you ideas on how to make your own accessories.
Find a Focal Point
First, think about the ideal spot in your yard. It is that one area that already has a great focal point. Maybe you have a beautiful blooming tree or flower garden that provides some color to the eye. You could be one of the lucky ones that has a great view. This is where you'll want to start.
If you don't have a special focal area then you can create one. Fire pits are perfect focal points. There are so many styles to choose from and they are reasonably priced. Water fixtures are another great way to add ambiance and beauty to an outdoor setting. Although they can be pricey, you can actually make a water fixture for pennies on the dollar just by using a big planter, an electric fountain kit and a bag of pebbles.
Now that you have a focal point you'll want to consider seating. How many people are you going to entertain? A small group of eight to 10 people is easier to accommodate than a group of 30 to 40, so you'll have to weigh those options before you go out and spend a fortune on a new patio set. Consider using what you have around your home. Old tables can always be covered with fabric. If you have small card tables you can easily push these together and toss a white sheet over the tops and add accessories.
Matching chairs is ideal but if you don't have a matching set you can group like chairs and colors together. Put seating around small coffee tables or try using an old crate with a piece of ply-wood on top and then cover the crate with a fabric. You can use benches and stools for seating as well. Remember to place furniture items around your focal point.
If you want to make it fun and Moroccan style, try throwing pillows and seat cushions on top of a big blanket on the grass. Your invited guests all have different tastes and interests so having different areas for seating are sure to please everyone.
Shade products are important to make your outdoor entertaining special and intimate for your guests. Shade products include everything from umbrellas and sail shades to outdoor drapes. If you are looking for a fast solution to your shading needs then umbrellas are perfect. Umbrellas range from inexpensive to high-end; it's up to you how much you want to invest.
Outdoor drapes are something that you should consider if you are trying to keep a patio intimate and cozy. There are high-performance fabrics available that will allow you to keep these curtains hanging outdoors year round, but if you want an inexpensive and temporal solution use bed sheets. Hang bed sheets on patio posts or use these sheets on rods as curtains or drapes. Using sheets for a sail shade is another idea. Punch holes into the ends of the material and put string through the holes and tie up each corner to trees or posts. This will provide relief from sun and heat.
Evening gatherings essentially need lighting to give off the right ambiance. Candles are a perfect way to set the mood. Use big hurricane vases with pillar candles inside them; this will keep your candles from burning out from wind gusts. You can fill glass bowls with water and submerge floating candles along with cut flowers for interest.
Tiki torches are also cool lighting accessories that most people are familiar with. Solar powered lighting is another suggestion. There are unique solar powered garden globes that are inexpensive and still add great light to a pathways and gardens. Solar post cap lighting is ideal for fence posts.Outdoor sconce torches can be bolted to posts and pergolas. There are a variety of products that will help light up your yard; you just need to think outside the box.
You have created an outdoor area that will provide seating, shading, lighting and a focal point, now it's time to accessorize! Think about a theme. This will help you utilize certain colors to give a more cohesive look even if you use a hodgepodge of items.
If you don't have a lot of foliage you can bring in a garden by using planters filled with plants. Use tall potted trees to create separation and conceal anything that is not pleasing. Planters and urns are easy to move around so you can be more creative in where you place those.
Decorate tables with items that you do have. Food is one way to decorate that won't cost you very much. Bowls of grapes, bananas and apples bring color to your tables. Vegetables like squash, corn and kale are beautiful for a fall gathering. Your plates, cups and silverware will also add to your design.
Place mats can be a great accessory to any table. You can purchase colored construction paper for place mats that your little guests can scribble on. Use themed decals on wine glasses to keep your guests from getting confused about which wine glass is theirs. Decorations that you keep in your home can be brought outside as well. There really isn't a wrong or right way to accessorize. You can always look through your favorite magazines to get great ideas. It's really up to your design taste and style.
You can really have a great outdoor party with friends and family on a small budget. It may take some imagination but it's a huge pay off in the long run.