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05/19/2014 12:00 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015
PRESENTED BY PIER 1 IMPORTS

Get Ready To Throw The Best Cocktail Party Ever

So you’re throwing a party. Considering last winter’s frigid -- and, lest we forget, record-breaking temperatures -- you certainly deserve it. With warmer weather finally upon us, it’s time to thaw out. What better way to celebrate than with a backyard soiree?

We've partnered with Pier 1 Imports to make sure you're fully equipped for your outdoor fete. Here are 10 simple tips for throwing a summer cocktail party your friends will be talking about well into fall.

  • Lighting Is Everything
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    And we mean everything, because let's be real: lighting can make or break the mood of your party. The trick is to have just enough light for your guests to see each other's expressions and make their way around after dark.

    Try going with mood-enhancing dim lights and don’t be afraid to get creative. Try draping these Lace Paper Lanterns from your trees or ceiling.
  • Cocktails First
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    This is a cocktail party, after all. Get your party started right with a couple of signature dranks (yep, dranks) to dish out to your guests as they arrive. And, please, don’t skimp on the garnish!

    Try going with a mixed punch that you can prepare before the festivities begin so you don’t keep your thirsty friends waiting. Also, be sure to accommodate the non-cocktail drinkers of the bunch by providing your guests with diverse alcohol-free options as well.
  • Keep It Cozy
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    When it comes to entertaining outdoors, comfort is key. While many of your guests may start out standing (read: classic mingling stance), be sure to provide comfortable seating for at least 30 percent or more of the crowd.

    Try making them feel at home with lots of seating options and extra pillows. Take your outdoor decor to another level with fancy accents like this Petals Pillow. After all, these flowers are always in season.
  • Move Things Along With A Meal
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    Let a well-planned multi-course meal set the pace for your party. Kick things off with light, colorful appetizers like fruits and vegetables and let a sweet desert signal the end of the soiree.

    Try sprucing things up a bit by serving up your old favorites in new and creative waves. For finger foods, scrap the bowls and utensils and dish out your "appetizers" in these funky Stackable Goblets instead.
  • Serve Seasonal
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    As you plan your menu be sure to keep in mind what fruits and vegetables are in season at the time. Chances are, that’s exactly guests will be in the mood for.

    Try hitting up your local food markets before your shindig for your freshest, tastiest and healthiest options.
  • Don't Forget The Vegetarians
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    If you're anything like us, you appreciate a barbecue-grilled burger (or two), but as a good host, take care not to alienate the vegetarians in your crew.

    Try constructing your menu so that 20 to 30 percent is meatless. Not only will you make your veggie-loving friends happy, you’ll be making sure meat-lovers get their daily dose of fruits and veggies.
  • Please Don't Stop The Music
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    Seriously, don't. Music is another one of those seemingly obvious details that can really set the tone of a party. Avoid awkward silences and keep your guests on their feet by setting up a playlist of tunes beforehand.

    Try letting your guests take turns being DJ for an eclectic mix of tunes that satisfy everyone's tastes.
  • Clean As You Go
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    We all know that parties can get messy. While there’s no way to entirely avoid spills and slip-ups, you can avoid a post-party disaster zone by tidying up throughout the course of the event.

    Try getting your guests in on the clean-up effort. Set up small stations where they can put used glasses and other utensils, and be sure to label the trash area with a sign or (for swankier folks) a decorative tray so no one is stuck holding an empty glass.
  • Remember, Games Aren't Just For Kids
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    Who says a group of mature adults can't enjoy a good old-fashioned potato sack race?

    Try to make the most of your outdoor space (and get some awesome photo ops) by encouraging them to participate in games and activities throughout the day. Our personal backyard fave? Two words: bocce ball.
  • But Party In Style
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    While it’s important to keep your guests comfortable, don’t forget this is a party, y'all! It may not be as extravagant as this unforgettable soiree a la Jay Gatsby, but that doesn’t mean you can’t party in style.

    Try adding a little luxury to your backyard with posh accessories like this Fairies & Belles Windchime.

With the help of our friends at Pier 1, you can use these tips and tricks to transform your backyard into the perfect outdoor oasis. For more decorating ideas and inspiration check out Pier One's Outdoor Furniture Collections and find what speaks to you.

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