The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

6 Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Entertaining Guests

Who doesn't enjoy entertaining and having friends over for a little backyard soiree? For backyard entertaining, here are our favorite outdoor lighting ideas to help bring the festivities to life at your next event or get together!

1. String Lights: The Ready Solution

String lights can be suspended up high above a patio, deck, or other gathering area. They can also be hung up inside of a structure like a pergola or pavilion.
There are three reasons string lights are wonderful for entertaining: They are the ready to go solution, they instantly create a festive atmosphere, and they provide functional light to see by for cleaning up after the party is over.
  • Ready To Go - Once they're installed properly, permanent string lights will always be ready to go. By simply flipping a light switch, your outdoor living area has become the perfect place to throw a party.
    No more fussing over how to create the right atmosphere or over decorating. With string lights, your outdoor entertainment area can feel as though its been transported to a completely different setting. As soon as the lights turn on, the stage is set.
  •  Festive Atmosphere - String lights instantly provide a sense of occasion. They create a festive atmosphere and fill us with a sense of excitement. If you are throwing a party or hosting a special occasion, string lights will definitely help set the right mood.
  • Functional Lighting - In addition to providing atmospheric light, string lights also double as a  functional lighting solution. Everyone you've invited will be able to see and safely traverse your outdoor space without worry.
    However, every party has to end, and the easier it is to clean up the better! The best part about having a functional light source will only fully appreciated once the party has ended. Having a functional light to see by can  make taking care of cleanup up so much easier.

Bonus Lighting Tip: Use a dimmer switch with your bistro lights. The ability to dim your lights gives you so much control over the kind of atmosphere you are trying to create. You can turn the lighting volume up for entertaining a large group, or you can dim the lights down to create a more intimate lighting experience for two.  With dim-able lights, the night is truly yours to make what you like. 

String lights are practical, fun, and at the end of the day they are a great lighting solution for your back yard entertainment.

2. Keep your guests safe!

Path lighting can provide your guests with that extra help they need to travel through your yard safely.
Outdoor entertaining can be a lot of fun! However, its not fun for your guests when they can't see where they are going. Consider illuminating your walkways and main traffic areas with path lights.
The last thing you want is a guest getting injured because of a trip hazard they couldn't see.
Path lights are a great task light that helps guests see their way. Path lights (as their name implies) are placed next to a pathway to cast light down onto the path. They can also be used in areas with steps or elevation changes to help make sure your guests don't trip.

Don't use solar path lights

Solar powered path lights are no good. They don't have enough light output to properly see by, and they fail quickly. There is a good reason why solar yard lights are sold at such low prices: they do not last. But more importantly, solar lights will not do a lot to help your guests see where they are stepping.

Path lights help lead the way for your guests!

I've had clients express their frustration with guests accidentally knocking on the wrong door. They're not upset with their guests, they're frustrated with how deceptive their home's second front facing door is for visitors.
The reason my client's guests aren't sure which door to knock on is because my client's home will have two front entryways. One door is the main entrance, the other door is a side door that just so happens to face the front of the home. For understandable reasons, my client's guests get the two doors mixed up.
In the evening, the solution is simple: add path lights! By lighting the path leading to the main entrance, and not the path leading to the side door, guests will be naturally inclined to follow the lit path. 

3. Kitchen lighting can make or break dinner plans

When you're preparing dinner outside, lighting can be a big help! Its worth knowing if the stakes you're grilling are coming out medium rare and not well done!
Lighting can help your guests see their dinner and better enjoy their evening. Even if your guests are just sitting at the bar top talking, functional light to see by helps carry great conversations late into the night.
For functionality, task, conversation, and your own enjoyment, seriously consider your outdoor kitchen's current lighting situation. 

4. Fixtures for creating intrigue

Accent light fixtures can make for a great conversation piece! Add an accent light fixture to your outdoor space to create something distinctive for you and your guests to enjoy.

There are some fixtures you add to your landscape for function, than there are fixtures you add for beauty. Accent light fixtures are meant to be appreciated for the unique character they bring to your outdoor space.


Accent your water feature! If your home has an outdoor water feature, this could be a great opportunity to do something different. Pond lighting can do wonders for entertaining and doing something 

A glowing hand blown glass orb floating in your pond can add character and provide your guests with something distinctive to take in and enjoy. 

5. Don't burn the s'mores 

Fire pits are always a great go to for entertaining friends or family gatherings. However, you may be wondering, why does my fire pit need lighting?
Fire pits do cast a decent amount of light onto everything around them. However, the walking and seating areas around a fire pit are usually left in shadow.
You and your guests need to focus on keeping your marshmallows from burning. Don't be distracted over tripping on someone else's feet. 
Under cap lights placed strategically around a fire pit will direct the light downwards onto the area down below. Because of the bright burning flame produced by the fire, this foot traffic area is usually completely dark. By adding lights here, it creates a safer fire pit experience for you, your family, and your guests.  

6. Help your guests relax

Up lighting trees and other key landscape elements in the surrounding landscape can make the atmosphere feel  more alive and energetic. It sets the stage for a beautiful evening. 
However, the most important reason for lighting the landscape isn't simply for beauty, its also to put everyone's minds at ease. By providing your guests with more visual control over their surroundings, it naturally makes them feel more relaxed.
The night is dark and full of unknowns. Even if its only subconsciously, we are uncomfortable when we can't see things around us.
Creating a fun, beautiful, and relaxed lighting experience for your guests can all come down to how the stage has been set. Your landscape, the backdrop to your outdoor living and entertaining areas, should be utilized to create an overall finished lighting scheme. 

Need lighting for your next shindig?

Do you have an upcoming event like a wedding, or a yearly barbecue you host? Give your local outdoor lighting designer a call. It can be tricky figuring out what kind of lighting will work well for your outdoor space. Consulting with a lighting designer can be perfect for teasing out the details and getting ideas from a specialist. 

Located in Utah?

If you're located in Utah or nearby state and have an upcoming project you'd like help with, call us at (801) 440 -7647 to schedule a free consultation!

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