Friends toast with wine glasses in celebration outdoors.

The weather is warming up, and we can finally spend more time outdoors! It might not feel like full-blown summer, but there’s no better time to start planning your outdoor area and getting ready for summer entertaining.

Whether you’re planning on having a few friends over for an occasional barbecue or you love to host larger weekly gatherings, your local Ocean State Job Lot has everything you need – and some helpful ideas – to help you create the ultimate space for outdoor summer entertaining.

Comparison of two different outdoor patio styles. One is relaxed and casual, the other is traditional.

Make Your Backyard the Place To Be This Summer!

What’s Your Style?

The first step is to decide what kind of feel you want your area to have. Do you want an upscale and elegant space, a kid-friendly yard that quickly becomes the neighborhood hangout, a simple area with just the basics, or a whimsical oasis that mixes colors, fabrics, and styles? Once you decide on the vibe for your outdoor space, you can choose the right decor and accessories.

Outdoor patio scene at sunset with a grill, a pergola and patio furniture, and a dining table.

Your Dream Oasis

Creating an inviting and functional space while reflecting your style is easy once you have a few basic pieces. First, a shady spot is a must-have on a sunny summer day. A popup gazebo or large patio umbrella is great for an impromptu gathering. A hard-top gazebo or pergola are great choices if you want something you can leave up all season. Some of our pergolas come with a removable canopy that can be adjusted depending on the sun’s location. Some of our pergolas come with a removable canopy that can be adjusted depending on the sun’s location. They also protect your outdoor furniture — another must for making a warm and inviting place to relax and unwind.

Add some extra flair to your outdoor area with gorgeous pillows and cushions in bright summery colors. Mix and match colors and fabrics to make a laid-back space for casual get-togethers, or choose one color to tie the space together in a modern and classic style.

Next, consider hanging baskets and planters. They’re a great way to add extra greenery to your outdoor space. Birdbaths and feeders can also attract some feathered friends to your backyard. Windchimes, statues, and small outdoor fountains add an extra touch to personalize your space. And don’t forget the music! Playing music can help liven up your party and set the tone of your event. Our selection of wireless Bluetooth speakers lets you take your music wherever you go. Finally, an outdoor rug is an easy way to tie the whole space together and make your outdoor area feel cozier.

A group of friends on pool floats in a pool laugh and talk.

The Perfect Pool Party

Inviting friends and family over for a pool party is a go-to summer activity for many people. Kids splash and laugh while the adults lounge and catch up with each other over snacks and drinks.

Before you open your pool for the season, you’ll want to stock up on towels, pool floats, rafts, and other inflatables and water toys. And don’t forget pool cleaning supplies like chlorine and shock to make sure your pool is clear and ready for use whenever you want to swim! If you have a hot tub or spa, make sure it’s clean and ready for use.

Don’t have a pool yet? You’re in luck! Ocean State Job Lot has pools and inflatable water parks in different sizes and styles to suit every need.

An outdoor table is filled with different snacks, beverages, grilling sauces, and condiments.

Refreshing Refreshments

You can’t have a party without snacks and drinks! We have a variety of snacks for guests. Check out our Polar brand sodas and sparkling waters in different flavors. You’ll also find plastic cups, plates, serving bowls, forks, spoons, knives, and napkins.

Friends play a game of croquet.

It’s All Fun and Games

For some extra fun, have a lawn games tournament. Games like cornhole, ladder toss, and disc golf are great options everyone can enjoy. One fun DIY game is Human Ring Toss! Divide into teams and blow up some large ring floats. One member of each team volunteers to stand in a line while team members try to toss the floats over the volunteer’s head! You can set up a timer, or the first team to toss all their floats wins!

Friends toast marshmallows outside by a fire pit.

Keep the Party Going

Just because the sun is going down doesn’t mean the party needs to end! Outdoor lighting can help make things safer for your guests and brightens up your space to let guests know they can linger a little longer. Solar chandeliers hung from your gazebo add a touch of elegance, too.

Consider investing in a fire pit or an outdoor heater for chillier evenings to keep everyone warm. Don’t forget the graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows for s’mores!

It’s important to remember that setting up the right area is only one part of creating a great space for summer entertaining. Spending time with family and friends is the goal, no matter what your outdoor space looks like. People might not remember if your towels match or if the glasses were plastic, but they’ll remember sitting with friends and enjoying the laughter and stories created by spending the evening with friends.