Wild Poppy Stories: The Art of Backyard Entertaining

May 22, 2015

Backyard Entertaining

As the countdown to summer begins, revelers will soon take their celebrations outside. Backyards will become backdrops to weddings, family reunions, children’s birthdays and dinner parties.

We sat down with Los Angeles-based event planner and Wild Poppy fan Dee Gaubert for tips on how to make our next backyard gathering feel inspired and authentic. Dee has coordinated everything from celebrity weddings to corporate launch parties to intimate backyard celebrations. Before she began crafting memories for her clients, she honed her stage-setting skills as a producer on shows like HGTV’s House Hunters, Designed to Selland the Food Network’s Party Starters.

Why is backyard entertaining such a great warm-weather option?
For me, backyard entertaining is about creating a space and atmosphere that truly feels like a moment in time – encouraging connections between your guests, creating memories. Those are things that everyone can do in an outdoor space, regardless of the size of the space or the budget.

Backyard Entertaining

How can hosts ensure guests feel welcome right away, even if they walk through the home before entering the outdoor space?
Delight your guest’s senses – visually, through sound and even smell. I love having a beverage station right when guests walk in – beautiful bottles already open, with straws, set on ice in a galvanized tin creates a welcoming feeling. Guests instantly know you’ve been anticipating their arrival. In the same area and throughout your space, flowers, herbs or lemongrass cuttings in recycled glass jars of different heights provide a feeling of home while diffusing scent. And don’t forget background music – little known fact, music actually encourages guests to talk! Be bold and a little unexpected – samba, bluegrass or bossa nova are all interesting choices I’ve seen work really well.

Anything hosts can do to make an impact on their backyard gathering without adding to the cost of their event?
A well-thought-out space can really make a difference in how guests perceive the event. Space planning often gets overlooked. The key is not to be daunted by the open space – create smaller zones within outdoor space that are functional and make the space more intimate.

Are there a few specifics in this area that you can share, especially for the DIY planners and hosts?
Absolutely! As you create your zones, think about ways to encourage movement – visually with tables of different heights and little conversation nooks to enable mini-gatherings throughout the space. Give people a reason to walk through the space, such as putting your bar as far back as you can in the space, away from the entrance, and placing food in several locations. And pay attention to detail – I love placing silverware and napkins in mason or jelly jars throughout the space so guests always have what they need to enjoy the food.

Backyard Entertaining

What about visually dressing the space – versus “decorating” it?  How can we make the space feel authentic and not overdone?
Backyards already have so much décor on their own, with natural landscaping and greenery. Definitely use those to your advantage. From there, keep it simple and authentic to the personality of the hosts – DIY paper poms or strings of flowers from trees, bulb lights along a fence or around gazebo posts, greenery on tables throughout the space, linens recycled from a favorite fabric, and pops of favorite colors throughout.

What drew you to Wild Poppy Juice?
Wild Poppy’s fresh, natural ingredients and unique combinations bring something fresh and inspired to gatherings. As an event designer, I also appreciate anything that I can use in so many ways. The flavors are equally perfect on their own or as really unique mixers for cocktails and mocktails. The bottles are also beautiful, so no need for extra glasses when just serving it straight. On a recent evening we served all four flavors – bottles on ice – for guests who weren’t drinking alcohol and created a cocktail using the Peppermint Lemonade combined with a homemade elderflower simple syrup and a splash of vodka. Guests asked the host for both the cocktail recipe and where they could find the Peach Vanilla for their children.

What’s your favorite flavor of Wild Poppy Juice?
I adore Wild Poppy’s organic Peppermint Lemonade. The mint and lemons taste so fresh! It’s clean, crisp and over ice is the perfect foil to the California heat I’m always running around in.

Backyard Entertaining

Dezhda “Dee” Gaubert is a wedding and lifestyle consultant as well as the owner of Los Angeles-based No Worries Event Planning. She and her team specialize in event development – from luxury weddings to launch parties to sweet backyard fêtes – in Southern California and Paris.

Wild Poppy Stories is an online series of original anecdotes, interviews, photographic essays and videos profiling people who embody the spirit and authenticity of Wild Poppy.