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Preparing Last Minute Backyard Parties When You’re Strapped for Time

Summer is about to arrive, and the weather has improved no matter where you are in the US or Canada. Outdoor gatherings and backyard parties are the norm as the world moves from a COVID zero strategy to living with COVID, i.e., an endemic.

If you’re caught off guard and haven’t made initial efforts to prepare your space in entertaining guests, today we’ll go over some things you can quickly do when your time-strapped in preparing last minute backyard party ideas for your friends, family and other guests.

How to Prepare Your Backyard for Parties with Limited Time

Clean Up and Visually Improve Your Yard

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The first is the most obvious, cleaning up your backyard of debris or other things that may have accumulated. Mowing your lawns and pulling weeds helps visually improve the appearance but as well as makes it easier for guests to navigate through and greatly reduces the number of insects and/ or other pests they may encounter.

If you have the luxury of a few weeks before your party, then consider managing the growth of your weeds immediately. As they can grow back in as little as a week, utilize weed killers to temporarily stunt the growth of weeds. While it may be too late in the year to use pre-emergent weed killers, there are many post-emergent weed killers to help manage weed growth in the short run.

Ensure you do not have pets or children nearby when the weed killers are still fresh in the lawn.

Beyond weeds, ensure you wipe and clean down chairs, concrete, and other outdoor furniture that your guests may be using. There may be cases of mold growth or accumulation of other issues around your yard, like insect nests or animals building their nests. Ensure you properly learn how to deal with these issues, especially when it comes to live animals, before removing them.

Consider Low-Effort Food Ideas

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Food is almost a must-have in any backyard party. If you simply don’t have time to prepare ambitious meals, then consider food options that are low effort. The most obvious would be to order food from a restaurant and split the bill.

However, most guests simply prefer not to have restaurant-cooked meals as they would’ve gone to the restaurant themselves.

Other options you can consider are potlucks – easy to set up and allows for equal distribution of food preparation effort amongst all guests. You only need to create a single dish in this case, rather than multiple.

If guests aren’t sure on what to bring at your potluck, a great idea is to make it themed to narrow down the options everyone has. Consider choosing a country or a region of the world and communicating with each other what everyone will cook so there is no overlap.

Finally, summer backyard gatherings are immediately associated with one thing in most peoples’ minds: barbecues. In the event you want to have a meat-focused barbecue however the effort involved in manning the grill is too much, then you have several options.

The first, and most common would be to ask others to cook on the grill for you while you attend to other host duties. Most guests would be open to helping you marinate and prepare the food on the grills.

Your other option, if you’re looking to avoid pushing extra work on guests, is to utilize smokers to cook your meats without the need to be in the presence of the smoker constantly. As most smokers have a set it and forget it style, you can smoke tasty meats with the ability to be elsewhere in your yard.

Provide Entertainment That You Don’t Need to Manage

When it comes to entertainment at parties, the past few years have introduced a numerous number of activities that are rather easy for anyone to set up and start without needing a “host” to actively manage the activity. 

When the guestlist is too large, you may not be able to be present at every corner of the party so guests will need to self-manage some of the activities they will do.

Classic ideas, such as tossing beanbags (Cornhole), having Bluetooth speakers simply playing background music, and karaoke are all easy ways for guests to entertain themselves.

If you can have a guest bring a laptop or use one yourself, then setting up movies or other popular games is very easy to do.

Popular online games you can find online, with some only requiring a mobile phone to connect to the game include Jackbox Games,, Gartic Phone, Codenames, and Kahoot.

Apart from Jackbox Games, the others are completely free and can be easily accessed with a mobile phone. They can provide limitless hours of entertainment and can be actively self-managed by your guests so you can be elsewhere, and they can be having fun.


With the world hastily moving to a world that somewhat resembles pre-COVID era, socializing-wise, you’ll most likely find yourself joining various backyard parties or even hosting your own.

Even with limited time, proper preparation of cleaning the event environment, outsourcing most of the food-related work, and setting up entertainment that you don’t need to actively manage allow you to have a fun party without the need to spend dozens of hours preparing beforehand.

Knowing this knowledge, also consider lending a helping hand to others hosting, they’ll appreciate it!

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