Living in an expensive city like L.A. usually means renting an apartment with little to no outdoor space, which isn't a problem (the city is my backyard!) until throwing a party. Because the weather here is nearly always perfect, my apartment suddenly feels beyond cramped when entertaining indoors—who wouldn't rather be sipping outdoors sipping a mojito? Over the years, I've garnered some hacks to take parties outside, in public parks and beaches, so we can avoid disturbing our neighbors and enjoy some fresh air while in full-celebration mode. Below are my favorites tips to create a stunning party outside of your home:
The most obvious benefit to throwing a party at home is that you have shelter from the elements and a seat for your bum. Assuming there's generally good weather outside, you'll still want to provide shade for your guests so choose a spot with large canopied trees or provide a bucket with parasols or hats to wear. For seating, I prefer to spread soft, machine-washable blankets (or towels) on the ground. Although there are stainproof, waterproof, lightweight, and packable picnic blankets on the market (usually made for camping), I try to use something I already have, like the rug and sofa blanket from my living room.
When you're throwing a party in your house, there's usually a natural hearth or gathering point for guests. Whether that's the sitting area in your living room or the kitchen island, you'll want to replicate the same area for a party that's on-the-go. This serves two purposes—so guests know where to find your party (if you're in a bigger space like the beach or in a park) and to create a center of gravity for the party (lest it spreads too far and thin and looks sad). You can use signage or decoration like an A-frame, bouquet of balloons, or even a simple wooden milk crate and create seating clusters that fan out from that point so it feels like the party has some loose structure to its layout.
Hosting a party in a familiar or indoor space has its built-in benefits like a trash can, sink for washing goods, and electric power for lighting, appliances, etc. Whenever I host a party, I make sure to recreate these as much as possible for guests' comfort. Set up a trash and recycling station (these pop-up bins are functional and cheap but I often use wicker laundry baskets lined with trash bags for a prettier option), bring wet hand wipes, water bottles for rinsing sticky hands, and stick to daytime parties (thank you, sun, for free lighting) that are naturally geared towards food menus with dishes that don't need to be heated or prepared on the spot (see more below).
My favorite party foods are breakfast burritos (I'm a believer that breakfast burritos can be eaten anytime of day) or sandwiches (a local favorite is Bay Cities). Neither needs to be heated to be enjoyed, and are handheld so you (the host) don't need to pack plasticware like forks, spoons, knives, etc. For drinks, skip a blended margarita and make a big batch of margaritas in advance that simply needs to be served on the rocks (or straight up). Mason jars are a great vessel so you can make drinks ahead of time and transport them with ease, then use them as cups.
To make a party feel like a party when you don't necessarily have four walls to delineate the party space, focus on a few key decor items to designate your "space." I love going to the flea market to find vintage stools, buckets, trays, rugs, and pillows to create a party vibe with items I'd use within my own home as well. Backless low stools and ottomans are easier to transport in your car to the party location (bonus if they're stackable), and can function as seating or "tables" where people can set their drinks and mingle. Buckets and crates hold ice and drinks or games for guests (think: volleyballs, footballs, and frisbees) or, flipped upside down, create tabletop surfaces. Vintage rugs are great for seating but don't be afraid to use it as a "welcome mat" of sorts by propping a stool with a welcome sign next to it.