rendering of trees and pool set up for outdoor event

21 of the Best Outdoor Event Design Ideas

Hosting outdoor events is a fun way to gather and celebrate the new season. After all, as warm weather approaches, we all look to spend more time outdoors. But just because an event is outside, that doesn’t mean the need for a theme or decor goes away. So as you look to plan spaces for outdoor events this summer, consider playing up a selection of the season’s hottest decor trends to design the perfect event experience.

Outdoor Events Are On the Rise

Outdoor spaces aren’t just sought out for strictly outdoor events. In fact, a recent study from the IACC shows that meeting and event planners are incorporating outdoor breakout spaces and elements more than ever ” all in an effort to get attendees outside of the four walls of the ballroom. And whether the event is completely outdoors or just using the outdoors for adjacent spaces, capitalizing on timely trends is a key part of setting the tone that will help you meet your objective.

elements of meeting venues that are most important to event planners

Explore 21 of This Season’s Hottest Outdoor Event Design Ideas

1. Transitional Furniture

During your summer soiree, incorporate furniture suitable for lounging, networking, and socializing. Mix up seating with dining areas and plenty of bar tables for drinks and food plates while guests mingle. Utilize modular and functional furniture to fit any patio, lawn or pool deck. A sectional in a warm gray tone is the perfect gray neutral to serve the canvas for any summer color pallet. Be sure to have more than enough bar tables for guests to casually network while they eat and drink. Guests should never have to wander, wanting for a place to settle.

Technology can lend a hand in bringing in versatile furniture and creating a concept that works for the flow and function of the event. Social Tables helps event planners do just that during the event planning process through easy-to-create 2D or 3D diagramming that lets you visualize the venue and layout. Planners can choose what will work best for the space, while maximizing the comfort and ease with which  guests can move around, make connections and engage with each other.

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2. Bold Yet Classic Color Palettes and Patterns

Color is everywhere this summer and blue is dominating palettes and patterns. With the versatility to play up any theme or mood you’re looking to create for your event, blue is both bold and classic. Sultry and seductive hues of deep blue paired with green jungle patterns and palm accent pieces make for a festive and funky feel. Antiqued whites and blues play nicely with clean lines and crisp summer linens for a completely different aesthetic.

Use accent pieces to bring in the colors. Go beyond throw pillows and play up the seasonal colors with outdoor wire tables in green, blue and white. Vibe Cube Ottomans provide versatile vibrant outdoor seating in summer hues and can be easily moved around for casual networking.

Go Palm Beach Chic for a cool, casual vibe at outdoor soirees this season. Tropical pillows channel the easy essence of the 70’s and cool prints from that era allow you to casually incorporate a playful, luxurious feel to your seating arrangements.

To add visual interest and light up your party after dark, use lighted plastic orbs, cubes, tables and columns. These LED pieces help set the mood and add additional color when the sun goes down. Battery operated options are available to allow for lighting away from electrical outlets.

3. Mediterranean Influences

For international inspiration, think Mediterranean. Tuscan-style gardens make ornate foliage a centerpiece of any outdoor gathering. Black and white with punches of color provide balance and fun against a backdrop of extravagant greenery. Go north to the French Riviera for an easy, chic feel. Mix furnishings with wood tables and benches and don’t forget to finish with marble table tops.

Define the space with faux boxwood hedges to create more intimate outdoor areas that are luxurious. Add florals to the hedges to bring in a hanging garden look that makes your space feel romantic.

4. Natural Elements 

Decorate your space with items you would find in nature. It will heighten the outdoorsy vibe and connect people to the theme. Just let your creativity go above and beyond adding potted plants to the space. 

For example, spice up the seating options by including attractive tree stumps for chairs or tables, or place candle votives with pinecones on cocktail tables. Tree stumps are extremely versatile and can also be used to create placemats, coasters, tables, and even planters. For more woodsy inspiration, take a look at these seven ways to make your own stump decor.

5. Indoor Comforts Outside

Surprise your guests by bringing these inside elements to your outdoor venue. Many of the luxuries normally found in indoor spaces are available in outdoor-friendly versions. For example, lay down carpets suitable for the outdoors underneath dining table arrangements. Or put out plush armchairs to achieve a home-like vibe. Incorporate sturdier furniture (like wooden coffee tables) to help create that atmosphere as well. 

If it’s supposed to be sunny at your event, you can take risks with some patio decorations that normally wouldn’t survive the rain or wind. Use your best judgement and have a backup plan to protect these pieces in case inclement weather does occur. 

6. Offer Blankets

People’s comfort levels often vary significantly when it comes to temperature. If it’s sunny, even the smallest breeze can bring the temperature down enough to make people wish they had a coat. So be one step ahead of that discomfort and offer knitted blankets or throws that match the event theme. Mix up colors or textures to add some spunk and interest to your decor. 

You can even use branded blankets as your guest gift. Imprint or embroider them with the event or company information for a truly unique present! 

7. Minimalist Floral Runners

Flowers are an easy way to heighten your outdoor space’s fusion with nature. One very trendy way to add flowers to your space without making them overwhelming is to decorate dining tables with floral table runners. Keep these pieces simple for corporate events by utilizing more greenery (like boxwood, silver dollar eucalyptus, or ivory) than flowers in the pieces.

You should also pay attention to what greenery is in season if you want to keep your costs down. This handy guide can help you figure out what’s available when. 

8. Rent Statement Furniture

If outdoor spaces are an uncommon venue for your events, consider renting outdoor furniture instead of buying it. It’s cost effective. And it allows you to choose bolder pieces to fit your event theme. Choose furniture with clean lines and striking colors to make a statement while keeping a low profile.

Also, incorporate flowers with the furniture to add even more color, texture, and pattern to the design of the space. For example, wrap garlands around chair backs or add delicate hanging vases to each chair. 

9. Create Ambience with Lighting

If there’s an interesting architectural detail in your venue that you’d like to highlight, do so with lighting! Lighting is a fantastic way to bring attention to certain features to create ambience. It can also be used to create shadows to hide features that are less than pleasant. 

Strung bistro lights are an excellent example of one way to showcase the venue’s arches or ceiling beams. If you need some more inspiration, take a look at these 30 gorgeous examples of event lighting.

Ask your venue about power sources to ensure that there are plenty of outlets available. If you need to use extension cords, properly secure them to prevent your guests from tripping. 

10. Mix Elegance and Minimalism

Less is often more and that frame of mind can apply to your event. Keep your guests focused on the goal of the event and its content by decorating with fewer items that make a bigger statement. That way your decor will compliment (not overtake) your event’s main focus. 

There are lots of ways to make a bold and elegant statement. But one of the hottest design trends we see for outdoor event spaces right now include a monochromatic color palette. For inspiration on this look, check out these 21 events that pulled it off perfectly. 

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11. Creative and Unique Venues for Outdoor Events

There are so many different types of outdoor venues available. Which means the sky’s the limit for your next event. Go with something unexpected and host your event at a garden, festival grounds, campsite, or even your closest zoo. This approach is perfect for events that need a casual feel, team building workshops or new product release parties.

Since the terrain or weather can be less predictable in unique outdoor venues, specify on the invitation what is appropriate for the guests to wear. Also consider having bug spray, sunscreen, and plenty of water on hand for guests. If you’re not sure how much water, soft drinks, or alcoholic beverages you should have available, use this handy calculator.

12. Create Variety with Textures

Add some of the season’s hottest textures including velvet, corduroy, or suede into your event design. The variety in texture will give the decor additional depth. Use them for blankets, seat covers, table covers, drapery, or throw pillows. They may not be very weather resistant but the additional statement they’ll make will be well worth it. 

Get the most bang for your decorating buck and carry these textures throughout other elements of your event. For example, your staff could wear pieces in the same style (velvet dresses and pocket squares anyone?). If you need more inspiration, here are 25 other luxurious examples of how velvet can be incorporated into an event.

Hotel pool

13. Chalkboard Signage

If you are aiming for a more casual atmosphere, chalkboards are a great alternative to traditional or overly formal signage. They can be used for directions, to outline the agenda, or to promote a hashtag. Hire a professional chalk artist or sign painter to do the lettering and illustrations on the signs (just like brands like Starbucks does). 

14. Imitate the Tropics

There’s something exotic and exciting about tropical decor! Its freshness and color is sure to brighten your guests’ moods. Tropical elements can also be very calming (think vacation vibes). 

To add just a touch of this design trend, use these prints and colors for your table decor. If you don’t want to make your own, Etsy is a great place to find table cloths, table numbers, paper cut outs, and more in this theme.

15. Hang Garland or Wreaths

Take advantage of the beauty of the season by arranging dried, seasonal flowers into garlands and wreaths. As we mentioned before, choosing seasonal flowers to decorate your event with will help you stay under budget without sacrificing style. 

Also, check with your venue to see what wall-fasteners they allow ahead of time. Command strips are an excellent, temporary alternative to nails. 

16. Go Retro for Outdoor Events

Have a little fun and embrace a specific decade for your event’s theme to further engage your guests. Retro styles also offer some creative yet practical decor solutions (think tufted floor cushions for additional seating or beaded curtains for space dividers). 

To use this event design trend, simply borrow inspiration from a time period (like the 1970s or 1980s). Then use the colors and patterns that were popular at that time. You could also play the top music of that era too. 

Read to start brainstorming? This article outlines some popular styles of the last century.

17. Incorporate Textiles

Woven, knitted, and printed fabrics create an ambience that’s earthy, natural, and soft. Their intricate patterns are also beautiful. Your guests will enjoy admiring these pieces of artwork when they’re incorporated into your event decor. Want to make it subtle? Macrame table runners and other accent items are a great way to include these pieces in your outdoor event design.

Guide: How to Create an Event Planning Checklist

18. Add a Fire Pit

The warmth of a dancing fire appeals to our most basic human instincts. Larger fire pits can be used to heat the space. Smaller fire features (like mini pits or a collection of candles) can be added to your outdoor venue for decor-only purposes. 

As always, keep any flammable materials away and check with your local authorities to see what other precautions are necessary. Also, have smoke detectors or fire extinguishers nearby.

This article discusses other things to consider (like adequate lighting around a firepit so guests can maneuver around it safely).

19. Tin Can Votives

When you think of a candle votive, tin may not necessarily be the first material that comes to mind. However, tin is versatile and recyclable, which may be just what your event needs. 

You can punch holes in tin cans to create patterns, making the votives totally customizable for your needs. All this project requires is a tin can, a pattern, a hammer, and a nail to design your own

20. Unique Photo Booths

One of the many benefits of having an outdoor venue is that it offers opportunities that just aren’t available when you’re inside. One of the places that really has a chance to shine when outside is the photo booth. In addition to having more space, you can also take advantage of natural lighting and the open air. 

For example, you can designate an area and give your guests colored smoke bombs for a truly magical photo souvenir! There are different types of smoke bombs, so consult this guide when you pursue this idea.

21. Create Some Shade

Weather is fairly unpredictable. While it’s obvious to prepare for wet scenarios, you also need to consider high temperatures and too much sun. Install temporary awnings, umbrellas, or tents to provide your guests with a respite from the hot rays. 

Also, make sure your guests have adequate water. You could even give them branded water bottles as an eco-friendly gift! If you need some inspiration to incorporate shade into your space, take a look at these 15 ideas.

Put Your Outdoor Event Design Ideas to Use!

Up next, get ideas for selecting the best event background music, and discover creative ways to use event diagram software to impress clients.

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