Why Host Outdoors?
Despite the stress and anxiety, finding ways to celebrate with family and friends has proved possible despite the pandemic. We’ve managed to have 2 intimate weddings and a baby shower by keeping it small, utilizing outdoor spaces, practicing safe distancing, and limiting food handling/sharing. Consider reading the guidelines by the CDC for ideas to help you plan your gathering.
The first step is finding scenic surroundings that have ambience, space, and a feeling of privacy even when they’re not. It’s even better if you can find inexpensive venues for the day. Here’s some great outdoor venues in the Orlando area that could work for weddings, baby showers, or any other social gathering. Let the venue be the backdrop all by itself.
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How to Select The Perfect Location for Your Outdoor Baby Shower
The great thing about a baby shower is that it can be planned for any amount of people that you desire. Locations can range from a free backyard or park to renting space at a hotel or a restaurant. Things to consider when choosing a location:
- Transportation options and ease of finding the location
- Natural ambience of the location
- Privacy or lack of privacy
- Food options including catering/vendors and cleaning stations
- Restroom options
- Parking availability
- Spacing for the amount of people
- Seating/Dining options
- Electrical needs
- Weather changes and alternatives
People are even opting for virtual showers, drive-by baby showers, or a combination of both in-person and virtual baby showers.
7 Beautiful and Affordable Venues in or near Orlando
Tucker Ranch Recreation & Nature Complex
This Winter Garden restoration project offers picnic areas, a nature trail, a playground, and a kayak and canoe launch into John’s Lake.
Young Pine Community Park
This park offers an inclusive playground, a dog park nearby, canoe/kayak launch, wildlife viewing, nature trails, and rental pavilions starting at $50, making it a great option in Orange County.
Located in Orange County, this 8-acre park has tennis courts, pickleball courts, volleyball courts, a fitness path, a canoe/kayak launch, and pavilions for rent starting at $50 per week.
Shadow Bay Park
It boasts 111 acres of terrain with cycling trails, basketball courts, tennis courts, a playground, nature trails, wildlife, and pavilions to rent from $50.
Dr. P. Phillips Community Park
A 43 acre park with sports fields/courts, a splash playground, nature trails, and rental pavilions that start at $50.
Cypress Grove Park
This beautiful 90 acre park features a 1925 estate house that can also be rented for weddings and special events. There’s a gazebo and Lake Jessamine provides a beautiful backdrop. Mini-mony packages for up to 8 people start from $795. Pavilion rental for up to 50 people is $50.
In this cozy park tucked into a quaint neighborhood you can boat onto Lake Apopka, play on the playground, or rent out the pavilion for a private backyard feeling. With a wide open view of the lake, the pavilion is nestled between two rental halls. The pavilion is $50 for the day, from 11AM to 8PM. The “little hall” has a screened porch and would also be an excellent option for a small gathering with rent starting at $35 per hour and seating for up to 35 people.
Selecting the Menu and Decorations for Your Outdoor Baby Shower
Depending on your theme, location, and guests, you may consider a tea party, a BBQ, or a picnic style menu that can be crowd-pleasing and easy. Services like ezcater.com help you narrow down caterers for a boxed lunch delivered to your location. I found it easy to customize each prepared lunch according to dietary needs by simply requesting it in the notes and they delivered exactly as asked. This care-free option checked off the need for tableware although the plain white box delivered wasn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen. The hardest thing might be choosing which restaurant to order from because they have over 82k participating restaurants nationwide.
Add on graze boxes or bite cups filled with goodies like everything crackers, a fruit cone, breadsticks, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered pomegranates, dried dates, a slim jim, or whatever other weatherproof snacks you can think of.
As part of the centerpieces, fill with theme colored treats. Our primary color was blue so we had blue buttermints, rice krispie treats, and blue swirl lollipops at every table. Each table was divided per family and set with graze boxes and their specific boxed lunch order.
Decorating the Outdoors
Less is more, at least, it can be when you’re outdoors. Why take away from the beautiful natural view with artificial decor? Here’s some simple easy decor ideas to add to your surroundings without stealing the show.
Plastic Tablecloths – great for picnic table decorations, military fold those corners and tape them together for strong held wrap at each end that can stand up against the wind without actually taping to the table or use table clips. Depending on your colors, dollar store ones are great for the pocketbook and work just fine. They can also be used to hang as curtains around posts.
Some great alternatives to plastic would be fitted sheets, brown kraft paper, a single cloth table runner or cloth table square, blankets, lace, curtains, or even gift wrap. Go bare and just use placemats or chargers. Try a second-hand store or thrift shop for vintage linens.
Cloth Table Runners – this helps dress up the plastic tablecloths a bit and are amazingly inexpensive if you head over to tableclothsfactory.com . You can usually find a coupon right on the site to save a little more and the delivery was fast with free shipping when you spend more than $49. Satin table runners start at $.99.
Balloon Banner or Arch – many people opt for these as you see them all over social media. As a more eco-friendly option, I suggest paper lanterns which can be re-used for future celebrations and fold flat for storage. Luckily, I already had some on hand ready for re-use. More alternatives for balloons include reusable vinyl balloons, paper flowers, pom poms, and pinwheels.
Balloon Boxes – easy find on Amazon, ranging from $10 – 20. Some include balloons while some include other decor items as well, so, select carefully. You don’t have to use balloons here either, you could fill the boxes with tulle, baby items, stuffed animals, or create scenes according to the theme but be sure to use color for contrast and visibility.
Banners – pennant banners are another easy find at any store from Target, to Party City, Michaels, or Amazon. You can buy them already decorated or decorate them yourself. If you have a silhouette cameo or cricut, you can even cut your own easily.
Centerpieces – they dress up your tables and can be super simple to over the top ornate. Cut down on throw-away goods by reusing things you already have or incorporating gifts for the baby like sock roses, stuffed animals, or even books. A great way to start a babies’ collection. I used shatterproof BPA-free hurricane glasses ( that I already owned for use by the pool, no glass accidents) as centerpieces by adding a crushed satin napkin that flowed outside of the cup, a rectangle of floral foam, and inserted blue baby’s breath, sock roses, and a baby boy pick.
Backdrops – great for photos! You can DIY a fringe style backdrop or find a readymade one.
Making it Eco-friendly
If your location doesn’t provide a receptacle for recycling, bring one or repurpose a box for catching all potential recyclables. You’d be surprised how many people that normally don’t recycle will follow your lead during the event.
The less plastic you use, the better for us all. Try the alternatives mentioned above to not only create a unique look but also more economical and reusable for future events.
Instead of tossing some items, pass it on. Join a neighborhood group that shares for reuse and repurpose or a “buy nothing” group on facebook.
Boxed lunches also help cut down on food waste. No one wants to throw a party without enough food for everyone so we often over-prepare. This way, every dietary need can be met without fear of too much or too little, or worse, setting off an allergic response.Use digital invites and RSVP’s such as an Evite.
Shop with purpose and look for items that can exist in both the party space and solve a functional need in your own home after the event.
Keep these 3 principles in mind:
- Rent or borrow.
- Natural or Paper.
Enjoy Your Beautiful Outdoor Space
These are all great ways to celebrate and maintain social distance, whether it be virtual, drive-by, or outdoors. Let nature be the main part of your decor, and make this a fun time spent together. It’s very easy to add a theme to the space through colors or toys, teddy bears, clouds, and almost anything you can imagine.
It’s okay to do less also, it may seem difficult when there are so many social messages inspiring you to do more but staying focused on eco-consciously choosing to minimize plastic use in small ways can also feel much more rewarding if that’s what’s important to you. You’re outdoors, the last thing you want to do is leave it worse than you found it. Keep it beautiful and enjoy it.