When it comes to summer, there is nothing quite as magical as a relaxing weekend, paired with copious amounts of sunshine and the opportunity to dine al fresco on the back patio with family and friends.

Since hosting in the heat can sometimes feel like an overzealous task, we’ve put together a list of small and easy steps you can take to make sure your guests are not only having a wonderful time but that they feel comfortable enough to linger long into the evening hours. After all, having no other place to be is the best part about summer.

Get Creative – Don’t be afraid to extend your indoor living space outside by embellishing outdoor furniture with rugs, side tables, plush pillows and throws that you already own. Just be sure to bring them in at night, as these items are not made to withstand the elements long-term.

Image via Emily Henderson

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Keep things simple by laying brown craft paper across the table for a laid back, yet polished look. Guests will be impressed with your modern take on the checkered tablecloth, and at the end of the night, you’ll be thanking yourself for the easy cleanup.

Fresh is Always Best – Easy and affordable, bring in the fragrance of summer with fresh cut flowers from your local Farmer’s Market.

image via Lonny

Go Easy with Plate Settings – Who said paper plates had to be boring? We adore this collection of everyday paper products created by Cheeky Home, a company with not only incredible style but an incredible mission, too. For every item purchased, Cheeky Home will donate one meal to someone in need, right here in the U.S. So you can stock up knowing you just helped make someone’s life a little easier.

Grab this gorgeous collaboration between Cheeky Home and Brit + Co. at your local Target!

Switch it Up a Little – Instead of serving food family style or all in one area, utilize individual tables for food, drinks, and dessert to encourage guests to get up, roam around and meet each other.

A styled bar cart is a perfect way to encourage guests to serve themselves, making your job of hosting that much easier. For more inspiration, check out this backyard reveal from City Farmhouse!

Go Big on Lawn Games – Literally. Adult sized lawn games are all the rage this summer. Keep guests entertained with this slew of DIY summer lawn games from Brit + Co.

Image via Brit + Co.

Keep the Bugs at Bay – As dusk falls, keep pesky mosquitos and other bugs at bay with citronella candles or incense sticks. Pretty and effective, this Citronella Plumeria Candle from Williams Sonoma is one for the win!

Embrace the Ambiance of Outdoor Lighting – Just because the sun has disappeared, doesn’t mean your guests have to. Paper lanterns or strung patio lights draped from tree limbs will fill your backyard with a festive and charming environment that will encourage late night conversation.

Image via Best of DIY Ideas

At the end of the day, our guess is that you and your guests will just be happy to be outside among good company. After all, we Midwesterners have a special knack for never taking a warm breeze, or a clear night under the stars for granted. What are your tried and true secrets for hosting an unforgettable summer party in your Veridian neighborhood?