Fabulous Outdoor Party Lighting Ideas
Although winter is upon us and the idea of an outdoor event makes us shiver, spring and summer are just around the corner. In fact, as a successful caterer, you are probably used to booking parties at least six months in advance, which means you (hopefully) have reservations galore for the spring and summer of 2018. Therefore, it’s time to start planning outdoor evening events – the kind of parties that put everyone in a relaxed, festive mood. With the right lighting, your outdoor event can be an unforgettable smash hit, with minimal effort.
Lighting: The Main Ingredient to a Successful Outdoor Event
Great food, friends and relatives are the main ingredients for a fantastic party, but ambiance also factors into success. While an indoor event requires painstaking décor, an outdoor summer party just about creates its own atmosphere. Nonetheless, it’s possible to boost the “wow” factor of an outdoor event with just a little effort and creativity. With the right lighting you can make an event magical – and truly a night to remember.
Candles, Candles, and More Candles
Candles are a décor basic – indoors and outdoors. Indoors, candles provide warmth, even when winter is raging outside. Outdoors, candles, set in secure candleholders and placed all around the venue – not just on the tables – can turn an ordinary event into an elegant and romantic gala. Candles can range from tealights and votives, to tapered candles or thick, pillar candles. No matter what the size or color (no scent is necessary), the flickering flame and warm light will give a dazzling effect. Glowing jars are an offshoot of candles. Any jar will do – mason jars, clear glass jars, jars made of colored glass – that can hold a tealight or a votive candle – can create an effect that is charming and special.
If real candles seem like a risky option, especially when kids, wind, shrubbery, and paper decorations are nearby, you can go with a candle-like alternative such as the flameless tea light candle (with a battery). This candle gives off the same type of warm, evocative glow as a real candle, without the melting wax and smoke. The flickering yellowish light will last for at least 60 hours, which no real candle can produce.
Strings of Light
For all-around ambiance, candles win the prize, but most peoplthat’s good. e find eating by candlelight alone too hard on the eyes (guests like to see their food). Therefore, candles should be supplemented by something a little stronger.
Strings light are a great complement to candles – they, too, are elegant and festive, and they add real illumination when needed. You can string lights from trees or wrap them around balconies, furniture, poles, pergolas, and other random projections. Strung lights are sophisticated and whimsical (the smaller the bulbs, the more romantic the effect), and they conjure images of fairy tales and fantasies. You can choose from white lights that are romantic and sophisticated, to colorful lights that tend to give a more casual vibe.
Rope lighting has been on the market for a long time and it’s a great option for an outdoor event. The “rope” is actually a long cylindrical tube that holds an internal light source placed every few inches, which gives the appearance of a twinkling chain of light. The tube can be plastic or another transparent material that allows the light to shine through. Like candles, rope lighting is mainly decorative because the light output is minimal. However, they are even easier to wrap around trees and other objects, as they can be bent into the shapes you want (and can be viewed from all angles).
Rope lighting can come with incandescent bulbs or LED bulbs; LED is the bulb of choice due to its flexibility and longevity. Most rope lights have white bulbs, but color bulbs are also available, for a more festive atmosphere.
Using lanterns as a source of outdoor lighting is great because they’re easy to move, they set the mood, and they’re very stylish and chic. Depending on the look you’re going for and how much light you want from them, you can find lanterns that use either LED lights or candles. Lanterns come in various sizes and materials; paper lanterns are perhaps the most common, but you can also find inexpensive metal and antique-style lanterns that will add class and panache to any outdoor event. Just a few well-placed lanterns – hanging or resting on a surface – immediately says, “It’s party time!” to your guests.
Paper lanterns are a cheap and easy-to-use lighting option that adds a degree of ambiance way beyond what they cost. They can be used alone or in strands (taking the aforementioned strings of lights to the next level).
Another option is to use kerosene lanterns. They can be used as glowing centerpieces, are easy to fill and light, and they provide the same shimmering glow as candles, but unlike candles, they won’t blow out. Kerosene lanterns can also be hung by their handles at strategic points around the garden, patio or backyard.
Strategically placed spots – either colored or white light – can liven up an event like nothing else. There’s no need for your guests to struggle with minimal lighting when spots are both fun and substantial. Spotlights are easy to install and, as a busy caterer, you should have some on hand for every outdoor event. Most of the spots you will find will be electric (though solar-powered spots are also available), so make sure that there are either outdoor outlets or accessible indoor outlets. (This is something you should check out before you arrive at the venue to start setting up.) Spots are particularly useful if you want to highlight the food tables, or focus on a particular design element; again, they can be supplemented by more subtle lighting options, such as candles or rope lights.
Although spotlights and strings of lights contribute illumination and ambiance to your outdoor event, there’s nothing like natural light (i.e. fire) for just the right effect. Tiki torches can offer bursts of lighting along the perimeter of your party space and have the added value of preventing mosquitoes and other bugs.
A tiki torch is a bamboo torch that originated in Tiki culture; now however, it is a popular option for outdoor lighting that contributes a tropical vibe to any event. The common tiki torch is constructed of a bamboo stick with a container of flammable fluid at the top, and then a lit wick draws from that container.
If you hesitate to combine the word “torch” and “party,” consider battery-powered LED tiki torches, instead. They may not offer the genuine warmth of a natural fire, but they still lend an exotic and tropical feel to your event. They are also great for illuminating a pathway so your guests can find their way to the main event.
So Many Lighting Options to Choose From
Lighting is a mix-and-match kind of décor element – you can use all of the suggestions we mention here or just one. You can go natural – with candles and torches – or use electricity to light your event space. Lighting is one of the easiest (and least-expensive) ways to cast an enchanting spell on any outdoor space. So try these ideas when you want to illuminate a setting and create a distinct and festive mood.