Enjoying the outdoors and entertaining al fresco are some of the best things about the arrival of warm weather each year. No matter if you have a tiny balcony or a full backyard kitchen, it’s smart to do a quick pre-party season once over so you’re ready to roll when it’s time for summer soirées, spontaneous get-togethers and everyday use.

Prep for Grilling

Test your gas grill to make sure it’s still good from last season. Starters can get wet and give out, and sometimes we forget that we ran down the propane tank during that final BBQ blowout. While you’re making sure heat is on, give your grates and grill tools a thorough cleaning, and replace your grill brush if it’s worn out. Doublecheck the level of your propane tank—and pick up a second one as a back-up if you’ve got the storage space. Nothing’s worse than running out mid-party!

Take an Objective Survey of Your Outdoor Seating

Give your patio furniture cushions a good cleaning (or drop them with the dry cleaner), and if they’ve lost their luster thanks to time or have excessive wear, think about replacing them or maybe add some new throw pillows to spruce the space up.

Stock Up on Service Stuff

Re-up your stash of disposable cups, utensils, plates, and napkins before the season starts so you’re always ready to serve a crowd at the drop of a hat. Tip: pick up a caddy to store stuff in one place, and make for easier transport in and out.

Prep Your Party Gear

Find a good, easily-accessible spot to store things you’ll need to make outdoor entertaining easy. You can keep your handled trays, candles, lighters, grill tools, plastic pitchers, bug spray, and cleaning supplies all in one place so you’re always ready to rock.

Check Your Outdoor Lighting … at Night

Winter weather can be super hard on outdoor light fixtures and party lights. Take an evening to do a nighttime assessment of whether everything is in working order and scope out places to improve visibility or ambiance. Dark corners can come alive with the addition of small solar lights, strands of twinkle lights, or cheap tiki torches.

Create a Cocktail Corner

As awesome as they are, you don’t need a full outdoor bar to make on-the-fly entertaining a snap. Set up a designated spot to serve drinks on an outdoor console table, small cart, or planting bench near your dining table, then tuck drink buckets and coolers underneath so they’re ready to go.

Details Complete the Scene

First of all, music is a must-have. There are so many wireless speakers out there these days, it’s super easy to find the perfect option for your space and your wallet. Curate party playlists ahead of time to fit a variety of vibes so all you have to do is push play.

Then finally, pick up some pretty little extras. Details count and a cheerful outdoor rug, hurricane candles, a bright table umbrella, or a set of melamine plates will make your outdoor space look party-ready all season long.

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