With the economy in shambles and most of us struggling to keep up with our personal finances, we're going out less and less. But that doesn't mean we have to give up on social activities -- it just means that we should turn our efforts toward entertaining at home, which can be much cheaper and more relaxing than going out with friends.
It doesn't take much to turn your patio or deck into the perfect spot for a Sunday brunch, barbecue, or just a place for your friends to gather in the nice summer weather and shoot the breeze.
The first thing you'll need to make your patio party-ready is some patio furniture
. A simple set of a table and a few chairs
will go a long way -- it's perfect for family dining outdoors on nice evenings, and it's also just the right size for a card game with friends (as long as it's not too windy out there). If you like to lounge on your deck with a book and a cocktail, or if you plan to host larger gatherings, you'll also want a chaise lounge
or two, or a comfortable outdoor sofa
. Another fun piece of furniture that your guests will all want to try is a hammock or porch swing
Once you've picked out all your patio furniture, the next step is some outdoor lighting
, so your parties don't have to end when the sun goes down. Keep costs and your carbon footprint down when you choose solar powered lights
Remember that even in the summer, temperatures can dip pretty low in the evenings. A patio heater
is a simple and attractive way to keep your guests comfortable, and something like this outdoor fire pit
is a safe way to have a backyard fire. Can't you just see yourself toasting marshmallows over this flame?
Before you get to the marshmallows, though, there's the question of dinner. Every patio or deck needs a good grill
. Who doesn't love a good summertime barbecue? A simple, cheap grill like this $89 Weber 22.5-inch grill
is good enough for rookie bbqers, but if you fancy a more macho grill, something like this Napoleon Prestige Series grill
is sure to impress the fellas.
If you've always wanted a hot tub for your deck, but couldn't stomach the price, you should consider a portable hot tub
. These inflatable, easily movable hot tubs are much less expensive than a standard tub, but have all the swirling jet action you'd get from the pricier models. Some of these hot tubs sell for well under $1000, and they're large enough to seat four or more people.
Once you've got all the amenities you need to entice people to hang out on your deck all summer, you'll need a few more things to keep it looking clean and presentable. Pick up a pressure washer
to make outdoor cleaning faster and easier. A pressure washer is probably the best way to remove any dirt, debris, or grime that builds up on your deck in the winter months when you're not using it, or you can use it to clean up after a particularly raucous gathering.
For a nice finishing touch on your outdoor decor, think about some potted plants
for a nice, low maintenance decoration. Pansies are a good flower for potted decorations, and they come in lots of colors, so you can pick some that look best in your space. Small, slow-growing trees also do well in pots and make nice decorations for your back yard. Try a pair of Japanese maples or eastern redbuds, which both thrive in containers.
It doesn't take much effort at all to turn your patio or deck into a happening hangout, and you can save a ton of money on entertainment by making your home the base of your social life. Put your patio to good use this summer!