Lawn & Garden Outdoor Living

18 Inspiring Ideas for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Do you and your guests need a distraction from the heat this summer? These 18 DIY ideas for outdoor entertaining are high in crowd appeal and unbelievably low in effort!

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Shoe-In Success

Do you have an old horseshoe set collecting dust? Coat the horseshoes and stakes with spray primer and enamel paint to achieve a playful, dip-dyed effect. This astonishingly simple project will provide non-stop fun at your next lawn party while bringing a pop of color to the backyard.

Related: 9 Backyard Games to Make and Play This Summer

Set Up Camp

This summer, skip the bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to the local campsite. Let your own backyard host the ultimate summer soirée! Simply pitch a tent filled with a table set and flanked by a homemade fire pit to wine and dine your guests in comfort and privacy beneath the stars.

Related: 9 DIY Ideas for a Summery Backyard

On-Screen Talent

Your local cinema is no match for this DIY outdoor movie screen. Put on a show in your own backyard by throwing a sheet over a clothesline and securing it with clothespins. If you already have an outdoor projector and speakers, you can create summer movie magic for a ticket price of zero dollars.

Related: 11 Low-Cost Buys to Boost a Boring Backyard

The Right Angle

Transform a worn-out wooden picnic tabletop into a fun and functional focal point for any backyard. The bold angular pattern, created with tape, a T-square, and an X-Acto knife, comes to life with satin-smooth wood stain and polyurethane, creating a naturally beautiful patina.

10 Backyard Wood Projects for Total Beginners

Fruits of (No) Labor

If you’re one punch bowl short of hosting a backyard barbecue, look no further than this sweet and simple drink dispenser. With the top of a watermelon cut off, and the rest scooped clean, drive a spigot into a hole in the side. Fill the cavity with punch and replace the lid to serve up drinks with an artful twist!

Related: 17 New Essentials for Your Best Ever BBQ

Chill Out

You know you’re on thin ice when the guests are thirsty, but the cooler is losing its chill! The fastest fix for your conundrum? Water balloons! Frozen in the freezer and tossed into a bowl of refreshments, they make for an effective and economical alternative to bagged ice.

Related: 10 “Sober” Alternative Uses for Alcohol at Home

Coast Is Clear

Are you tired of begging guests to use coasters? Party-goers will volunteer to rest their drinks on these playful and easy-to-make coasters. Apply chalkboard paint to the tops of porcelain tiles, and cork contact paper to the bottoms to protect tables from scuffs and scratches. Then, scribble a temporary message and top with an ice old one to bid water rings goodbye!

Related: 5 Things to Do With Leftover Tile

Curtain Call

To set a serene scene while keeping out prying eyes, hang homemade privacy curtains from a PVC pipe secured to the deck supports. Easy to assemble as they are to take-down, these barely-there drapes create a secluded summer sanctuary in a pinch.

Related: The Best 10 Plants to Grow for Backyard Privacy

Nothin’ But Net

Scratch your itch for summer sports and your love for DIY at the same time with this chic copper and macramé badminton net. Copper pipe and copper elbows form the support structure, while rope braided into square knots creates a hand-woven net that’s ready to help you catch fun and sun.

Related: 11 Things to Do Now for Your Best-Ever Backyard

Fireside Chat

This tabletop fire pit truly elevates the concept of a traditional ground floor fire pit. To add its fiery personality to your backyard, glue a pre-built glass box to a metal planter. Line the cavity with a grill grate, a can of gel fuel, and river rocks before lighting up your outdoor room!

Related: No Money to Burn? 9 Fire Pits You Can Afford

Light Bulb Moment

Decking out your deck can be as simple as upgrading humdrum string lights into lovely luminaries. Here, ordinary tissue paper is cut into summer blooms and tied to a string light cord to amp up the ambiance for your next outdoor party.

Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting

Wick Away Bugs

Stop mosquitoes from crashing your summer lawn party, with an all-natural citronella candle. Fill an empty candle container with a wick followed by melted wax and several drops of citronella and eucalyptus oil. Once hardened in the fridge, bring the candle outdoors and light it up to send pests packing!

Related: 10 Plants to Grow for a Pest-Proof Yard

Sitting Pretty

Replace a rickety old lawn chair with this plush and portable seating option. After sewing canvas drop cloth and decorative fabric into pillow cases, stuff the opening with a throw pillow and then arrange the chic cushions outdoors to create a luxe picnic setting anywhere, anytime. 

Related: 11 Backyard Updates You Can Do in a Day

Making Weaves

If outdoor surface space is at a premium, forego bulky coolers for this winning woven alternative. All it takes to upcycle an ordinary decorative basket into a wine bottle chiller is a chalkboard plaque on the outside and a generous helping of ice and refreshing drinks inside.

Related: 17 DIY Mini Bars to Mix Up Your Home Decor

The Queen’s Croquet Pitch

This Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired croquet set is as whimsical as ever. Plastic flamingos threaded with painted wooden dowels come together into colorful croquet mallets, while wood blocks and wire form wicket hoops that will entertain guests for hours at your own mad outdoor tea party. Visit Home Depot for the full tutorial.

Related: 10 Outdoor DIYs You Can Do for a Dollar

Turn the Tables

These no-sew napkins would be at home in a fine bistro, but look closer and you’ll find that they’re cut from a different cloth than traditional table napkins: scrap fabric. When cut with pinking shears to prevent fraying, and folded into an elegant arrangement, any fabric can make for a festive table topper in minutes.

Related: Without a Stitch: 9 No-Sew Projects to Dress Up Any Room

Written in Stone

This organic twist on a classic two-player game would look at home in any backyard space. The Tic-Tac-Toe grid was stenciled onto a stained scrap wooden plank and topped with smooth stones painted with X’s and O’s to create a dirt-cheap summertime diversion for all ages.

Related: Bob Vila’s 13 Best Projects for a Long Weekend

Jarring Experience

Dining al fresco has its charms, but flies and mosquitos aren’t among them. To prevent these winged nuisances from intruding on your summertime spread, serve snacks, side dishes, and main entrées in large glass jars that do double-duty as airtight containers for storing leftovers.

Related: A Dozen 10-Minute DIYs for a Pest-Free Home

Backyard Blast

Any one of these ideas can help transform your outdoor space into everyone’s favorite hangout, and a truly unique extension of your home.