(Family Features) Whether you’re hosting an al fresco gathering for friends or celebrating a summer holiday with loved ones, an outdoor living space is the perfect place for your big event.

To ensure your next outdoor party goes off without a hitch, consider these five simple tips for setting up your special space from the experts at Trex.

Set the stage for safety

If your deck needs a “face lift,” replace old, rotting or warping wood boards with wood-alternative decking that combines superior durability and low-maintenance with long-lasting appearance. High-performance composite decking like Trex Transcend, available in a variety of sought-after tropical colors, can withstand years of heavy foot traffic and severe weather, as well as outdoor entertaining mishaps like food and drink spills, or dropped grilling tools.

Create coverage

For maximum comfort, create a place where guests can get a reprieve from the sun’s heat and rays while still enjoying the great outdoors. A pergola can act as an extension of your house, creating the effect of an outdoor room. The overhead framing contributes to the architectural details of your space while providing shade and protection from the sun. Consider adding a waterproof, retractable canopy into the structure so your party can carry on – rain or shine.

Get more from your decor

When selecting furniture for your outdoor living space, think durability and versatility. Pieces made from composite materials will withstand use and environmental elements while maintaining their good looks. For maximum flexibility, choose neutral colored pieces that can be accessorized seasonally or even to fit a specific occasion.

Design for fun and function

When prepping for a party, designate separate areas for relaxing, grilling, beverage service and socializing. Be sure to include a conversation center by facing sofas and seating together around a fireplace, large coffee table or other central point to keep conversation flowing.

Food and drink stations – arguably the most crucial element of a party – should be prominent and accessible to guests. But, because people always follow the food, you also may want to set up food or serving carts at the edge of your social space. Maximize your guests’ mobility with a buffet of easily edible appetizers and finger foods so friends and family can move around and mingle.

Offer guests a variety of beverages in a way that allows them to serve themselves. Seek out alternatives to those bulky portable bars or tubs. The Trex Outdoor Storage collection, for instance, features an integrated ice cooler with two-inch-thick insulated walls to hold ice and keep drinks cold for days. Additionally, the new storage line offers other convenient options including trash storage cabinets, hampers, base cabinets and bench drawers.

Light the night

Keep the party moving long after the sun goes down with ambient candles, light strings in trees or hanging lanterns for the perfect mood and subtle lighting. For a more permanent solution, energy efficient outdoor lighting provides sophisticated, understated silhouettes that add both beauty and safety to your outdoor space. The collection includes a wide array of lighting options that can be easily installed into your deck, railing or landscape.

For more outdoor living entertaining inspiration, visit www.Trex.com.