Paul Sidoriak on September 13, 2016 0 Comments Make outdoor entertaining easy with these modern outdoor party essentials. There is a fine line between having an epic outdoor party and a choreographed catastrophe. No one wants to plan a lame outdoor party, but variables like bad weather, barking dogs, and even bugs can literally rain on your parade if you are not careful. Fortunately, we have access to many fun and cool gadgets that can keep almost any party on point, regardless of what Mother Nature is serving. 1. Quick Shelters Having one or more quick shelters available at your outdoor party can be crucial insurance against unexpected raindrops and extreme sun. Quick shelters can be found at most sporting goods and department stores for around $100. They come in various shapes and sizes based on your needs and duration of use. More durable shelters, commonly seen at outdoor craft fairs, are heavier and made of weather-tolerant materials. They stand up to higher winds and bright sunshine for days rather than hours and may be a good solution if you are entertaining for a few days over a long holiday weekend. The sturdier shelters often have other options available like sidewalls and even weights to anchor the shelter down. Regardless of the quality, almost all of the quick shades can be staked securely into a grassy area. Two people can set up a quick shelter in under a minute as they are designed to quickly deploy when pulled apart. Each person lifts the frame with both hands and walks back until it locks into place, opening much like a large, square shaped umbrella and locking when fully extended. From there, you raise the attached four corner poles to your desired height. A fun thing to do with a quick shelter for kids is to deploy the shade, but do not raise it to its typical height of about 8-10 feet but keep it low. Without raising, it sits at about 4 feet and makes a great fort-like environment for kids to play, dine, and stay out of the sun. Click Here to Shop for Outdoor Ice Makers 2. Outdoor Ice Makers Ice makers have come a long way, and newer portable tabletop models require only a power source and bottled water to make a fresh batch of ice about every 7 to 10 minutes. Ice is an integral part of any outdoor entertaining event and the amount required can easily be underestimated. Although it is easy to buy ice, storing and keeping it provides another hurdle and an outdoor ice maker eliminates both of those worries. 3. Outdoor Heaters Outdoor heaters are an amazing way to create a more comfortable space for your guests. Portable heaters typically run on propane and can be moved around on your patio or sitting area to take the chill off of the outdoor space. Most outdoor heaters are slender and tall, often having a large metal umbrella style heat deflector, which spreads the heat downward comfortably in the outdoor space. For more permanent outdoor heating, some outdoor gas heaters can be connected to your home’s natural gas supply. Electric outdoor heaters are also available and may be a good solution if you prefer the convenience of being able to flick a switch versus firing a flame. 4. Misting Systems Misting systems are functional, affordable, and cool to have on hand! Basic misting systems are not much more than an attachment connecting to your garden hose, with a series of misting nozzles at about 4-foot intervals. Hung above an outdoor space, misting systems can cool the air by 10-15 degrees. Misting systems create a cool, almost spa-like feel to the sitting area and misting hose nozzles can be adjusted so your patio furniture won’t necessarily be left soaking wet in the process. 5. Portable Fire Pits Click Here to Shop for Outdoor Fire Pits If you don’t have space in your yard for a typical fire pit, or would rather not deal with the clean up of burned wood and charred rocks, portable fire pits are a great way to go. Wood Fire Pits If firewood is available, there are many portable fire pit options that are elevated off the ground so you can have a contained fire with much less impact to the ground or grass. Chimineas are front-loading, free-standing, wood-fired fireplaces which have a bulbous bottom with a chimney venting smoke from the top. One of the great features of chimineas and other portable fire pits is that they can be placed in an under-utilized part of your yard to create a fun space, and then kept out of sight in storage when not in use. Propane Fire Pits & Tables Propane fire pits and tables can create a fire as cozy as real wood, but without the kindling and splinters. Propane fire pits are shaped like normal fire pits, but clean-burning propane gas shoots flames from a burner — often over decorative heat-resistant logs for a clean and beautiful aesthetic. One of the benefits of a propane fire is that it is often allowed in areas where outdoor wood burning is frowned upon. Propane fire pits typically work fine on rainy or wet days and are much easier to keep burning than wet firewood. 6. Outdoor Movie Screens Did you know that Ben and Jerry of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream created a passionate customer base by showing outdoor movies across the street from their original ice cream shop? They showed movies with an old projector and people from the area would come for the B-minus movies, but stay for the A-plus ice cream. Having an outdoor movie screen and set-up is no longer a parlor trick. Companies like Camp Chef are making it quick, easy, and relatively painless to add a backyard blockbuster to your entertaining arsenal. The Camp Chef 132 movie screen has a whopping 132” of wide screen viewing, and takes only a few minutes to set up, making it a perfect backdrop for your family’s own ice cream social or just a good distraction for the kids of all ages. The screen is free-standing and staking is available if you plan on using it in more than a light breeze. Outdoor movie screens like this one pack up into a duffel bag, making them easy to store when not in use. Regardless of how simple or extravagant your entertaining plans are for the outdoor party season, these gadgets will keep your guests entertained and comfortable.