Outdoor Soirees with Fashion and Function

event planningSummer is in full swing in most parts of the country… well, except for San Francisco, where it’s currently 62 degrees as I type this post, and outdoor events and event planning are the norm well into September.  Over the past few years there’s been a notable increase in outdoor events held in unusual locales such as a vineyards, boats, or golf courses.  Whether it’s a corporate meeting or personal birthday party, here are some universal event planning tips to help make your event cool in the summer heat.

  1. Throw Some Shade.  It may seem intuitive, but I’ve been to many outdoor events where guests huddle under limited tents to avoid direct sunlight.  Create plenty of open air cabanas under tents and shade structures.  Tents with no walls works best to allow guests to mingle and network.  Furnish with comfortable outdoor lounge seating, and don’t forget coffee and end tables!
  2. Fans and Spritzers. Hand held fans are functional and fun.  While you’re doing your event planning, have them customized with your company brand or create a colorful motif.  Battery-operated handheld fans are a wonderful throwback to childhood and a conversation starter.   Fill generic spray bottles with lemon infused water and place them on tables around the party.  Guests will love misting themselves and others with the spray.
  3. Waterproof Seating. If your event includes pool time, be sure the furniture and tables you include in your event planning are moisture friendly.  CORT Events’ rental product offerings lead the event industry with a variety of innovative outdoor seating and accessory options that are made for all event planning environments. From vibrant Vibe cube ottomans in a range of colors with matching outdoor Vibe pillows to the sleek Briza sectional which looks as good indoors as it does on a patio, CORT Events makes your event planning much easier and more colorful.
  4. Water Stations.  Create hydration areas in various locations where guests can pour their own water without having to wait in line at the bar.
  5. Standing Bar Tables. There’s nothing worse than attending a party where there’s no place to put your drink.  When event planning, be sure to scatter bar height tables throughout to allow guests to set their drinks down when eating or networking.
  6. Creative Themes. Don’t just throw a pool party or BBQ! Themes aren’t just for kid parties; adults love them too.  While event planning, try a B-52s inspired 60’s theme or a colorful circus environment.  Rent furniture and ottomans with lots of color to reinforce the theme.  CORT’s Blofield rental collection is whimsical air-filled seating that works anywhere, from the lawn to the pool deck, and guests will be surprised that it’s inflatable!  During your event planning, place seating areas near the pool’s edge to facilitate a social environment.
  7. Prepare for Inclement Weather.  You never know when an errant thunderstorm or high winds will erupt.  Your event planning arrangement should include shelter from the elements and a plan for getting everything moved inside quickly.
  8. Food Trucks.  Rather than hire a traditional caterer, schedule a local food truck to stop by and provide the food and snacks.  Select a limited predetermined menu where guests can order on their own time and eat casually.  Don’t forget to rent adequate café tables and chairs where they can eat comfortably in the shade.
  9. Lawn Games.  If it’s a corporate event, outdoor lawn games help build teams and foster networking. Croquet and Baggo are just a couple options that work well at family parties and high-end social galas.
  10. Be Specific about Dress Codes.   Outdoor events can spark anxiety for guests when deciding whether it’s appropriate to wear shorts, swim suits, or less casual clothing.  Tell them what’s expected and provide for adequate changing areas if you offer swimming.

Kevin Dana is the Director of Marketing and Product Development for CORT Trade Show and Event Furnishings. He’s responsible for national marketing strategy across all channels and developed CORT’s proprietary event furniture brands; including Lounge22, Endless collection, Luna Lighting, Blofield Air Design, and Napoleon collection. Kevin served as a trustee on the National Association of Catering & Events Foundation board for two years and was recently named 2013 Marketing Professional of the Year by Event Solutions magazine. He lives in San Francisco.