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  • Writer's pictureBradford Wynn

Outdoor Events Pt. 2: How to Plan a Small Outdoor Event

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

When you think of an outdoor event, don’t limit yourself to imagining a giant outdoor music festival. There are countless ways to incorporate the great outdoors into a smaller outdoor event. From outdoor weddings, to corporate events and family gatherings, small outdoor events are a unique way to take advantage of nature while offering a more casual setting than a traditional indoor event.

With the right team of experienced event planners, you’ll be off to the races planning the perfect small outdoor event. Let’s go over some tips and simple steps to plan your next intimate outdoor gathering.

Why Plan a Small Outdoor Event

Why are we talking about outdoor events? It’s probably no surprise that demand for outdoor events peaks in the summer months. Nothing screams summer like a fun and casual outdoor bash. There’s something about green grass and food grilling that gives us nostalgic feelings of our childhood.

Beyond just the feel good of outdoor events in summer weather, there are countless benefits to hosting small outdoor events:

  • Health benefits from time spent outdoors

  • Boost to immune systems

  • Enhanced creativity

  • Increased mood and focus

  • Address safety concerns of guests due to crowd density

  • Increased sanitation

  • More fun!

In light of COVID-19, small outdoor events are a great way to incorporate guests that may feel uncomfortable attending events indoors, plus the outdoors is just downright more fun (especially for corporate events!).

Types of Small Outdoor Events

When it comes to small outdoor events, there are two main categories: social gatherings and corporate events. By first defining what type of small outdoor event you’re hosting, you’ll be able to focus your planning efforts most effectively.

Social gatherings are any event that gathers friends and family together, such as weddings, picnics, birthday parties, small music concerts, and more. With small outdoor social gatherings, there are countless ideas to bring the fun to your outdoor event. Think themed-challenges, sidewalk art competitions, treasure hunts, and more.

On the flip side, corporate events are any event hosted on behalf of a company or brand. Typically corporate events serve to promote a brand, facilitate employee team building, or celebrate employee appreciation.

Whether you’re hosting a social gathering or a corporate event, you’ll want to consider the weather in creating a seasonally appropriate outdoor event that all of your guests can enjoy. With either type of event, choosing to host outdoors provides a unique spin and offers greater flexibility with space, set-up, and guest comfort and safety.

Finding a Venue

As with any event, your event cannot come to fruition without a venue. With small outdoor events, versus large outdoor events, you have more flexibility in the type of venue that can accommodate your event. There are three main avenues to consider for finding the perfect venue for your small outdoor event.

  1. Private Residences–the beauty of a small outdoor event is that often your own backyard (or your friend’s backyard) can be the perfect fit for your event! Start by considering backyards of private residences you know of and may have access to. Bonus: this is typically the most cost-effective route.

  2. Public Venues–just because the size of your outdoor event is small, doesn’t mean public venues won’t work for you! The great thing about an outdoor event is the open space. Consider both small and large public venues and consider that you can use fences, furniture, lights, and other decor to make a larger public venue feel more intimate.

  3. Peerspace–apps and websites like Peerspace list private spaces of all sizes available for rent, and have a large assortment of small event spaces both indoor and outdoor. Using the app or website, you’re able to filter by indoor or outdoor venues, desired guest count, location and more. Peerspace and other third party sites can be a great way to find less popular venues that are not heavily advertised that may be a perfect fit for your small outdoor event.

How to Plan a Small Outdoor Event in 10 Simple Steps

Once you’ve determined what type of outdoor event you’re going to host, and the many benefits of hosting in the great outdoors, you’re ready to plan. Follow these ten simple steps to plan your next small outdoor event.

  1. Find a Venue–consider your options of private residences, public venues, and blank space venues on websites like Peerspace.

  2. Tell Guests What to Expect–as with any outdoor event, small or large, you’ll want to make sure your guests have the information they need to be prepared for weather, accessibility, etc.

  3. Calculate How Much Food You’ll Need–as with any event, factor in your number of guests when calculating how much food you’ll need. If you’re catering the event, make sure you have preparations for the caterer in the event of inclement weather.

  4. Have Enough Seating–just because it’s outdoors and it’s small, don’t sleep on providing adequate seating. Get creative with lounge set-ups or beach chairs instead of traditional table rounds.

  5. Plan for Lighting–if your event will go into the evening hours, make sure to plan for ample lighting to light up your outdoor venue.

  6. Double Decor as Entertainment–once you pick a fun theme, consider doubling decor as entertainment, such as a decorative cornhole game that matches your event theme.

  7. Plan for How to Keep Guests Cool or Warm (Weather Dependent)--plan for fans, misters, or heaters depending on the worst case weather scenario based on the time of year and location.

  8. Prep Your Music Playlist–just because you’re not hosting a giant music festival, remember that music is important for even small outdoor events. Make sure you have an upbeat playlist prepared.

  9. Speakers and A/V–with a small outdoor event, you won’t want to blast your guests' ears, but plan to have ample speakers to fill your outdoor venue with music. If you are planning for a slideshow or similar, check with your A/V company to make sure they’re prepared in the event it rains.

  10. Invest in Outdoor Games/Toys–the great thing about small outdoor events is that less pressure can mean more fun! Outdoor games and toys can provide entertainment for the kids, or the adults for that matter (no judgment here!).

Here’s Why You Need a Wynning Event Planning Team

Planning an outdoor event should be just like the end result…fun! With a well thought out plan, the right venue, and a team of experienced event planners, your small outdoor event will be a success. At The Wynning Experience, we pride ourselves on creating the event you imagined. Get in touch with our team today to get started planning your next small outdoor event!

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