Quick, customisable and fun, these pizza party ideas are great way to get family and friends of all ages together for some light hearted mingling and delicious authentic pizza.
Alfresco pizza parties are a new take on the BBQ cook-out and there's a reason why people are opting for these over a traditional barbecue. People love pizza parties because they're a great way to eat as well as share in the cooking duties. And there's no added worry over whether you've undercooked the sausages, or wondering why the coals haven't lit properly.
You can get people of all ages involved in the prep and cooking as getting people to choose their own toppings is part of the fun for these particular garden party ideas. Having a pizza theme means you can really get creative with the other party touches to make yours a memorable night.
'The best advice I can give is to keep it simple and fun,' says Lucy Townsend of events company Wilds and Co (opens in new tab). 'The kids always have a great time creating their own pizzas and toppings, it keeps them busy and takes the stress off me!'
Fire up your oven and get these pizza party ideas cooking
The good news is that pizza parties are among some of the most relaxed outdoor parties you can host. Simply add one of the best pizza ovens to your yard and you're good to go.
'We have pizza parties for the kids at home all of the time,' says Lucy Townsend. 'We have a Gozney Roccbox pizza oven in our garden which is amazing! It takes only 20 minutes to heat up and is a great way to have a good clear out of the fridge too.'
But as with all social gatherings there are some garden party planning dos and don'ts to take into consideration.
1. Set up a pizza toppings station
'I find the best thing to do is to create a toppings station by laying out all the ingredients and then this is key to a great pizza party - get everybody involved with choosing their own toppings and making their own pizza,' says Joe Formisano, founder of DeliVita (opens in new tab).
More so than a BBQ party, where there's usually just one chef taking responsibility for the cooking, pizza ovens offer something a little different.
'Making pizza is a really social experience – it’s an all hands-on-deck one in our family which means the pressure isn’t on one person. That person then gets to join in with all the conversations and never feels relegated to the oven,' says Joe.
2. Get your pizza ingredients ready ahead of the party
'Like a lot of things in life, preparation is a key. Either make your dough in advance or cheat and buy some ready-made (try DeliVita’s Dough to Go (opens in new tab) range),' says Joe.
'Next, you need to think about ingredients. I always think getting the tomato sauce right is essential so I make mine using Italian chopped tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, a pinch of sugar and salt. Nothing complicated, simplicity is key. Then, make sure you have a range of ingredients, and get the best quality you can find. Think about buffalo mozzarella, herbs like rosemary and thyme, Parma ham, nduja sausage, artichoke, garlic oil, rocket, red onions…you could go on forever!'
There's plenty more suggestions for tasty toppings in our pizza oven recipes guide.
3. Have homegrown herbs to hand
Pot grown herbs are ideal additions to your outdoor kitchen ideas, so the chances are you might have these to hand already. For your pizza party you'll want to be sure you have plenty of quintessentially Mediterranean options.
Basil is the obvious choice, as the freshly torn leaves will give your pizzas an authentic edge when sprinkled on top. One you might not thought of is rosemary, but for Joe Formisano it's a bit of a secret gem.
'For me, my favorite pizza is rosemary and red onion – simple but totally delicious,' he says.
4. Serve in personalized pizza boxes
Rather than serving your pizzas on boards, you could add a quirky touch by using authentic takeaway pizza boxes. It's a great festival party idea as you'll typically want a more relaxed vibe for this kind of event.
You could have even more fun thinking of a name for you home-pizzeria and then getting this printed onto a box.
'Personalization is a great way to add a unique and memorable touch when hosting friends and family,' says Harry Smallwood, Head of Personalization UK at eBay (opens in new tab). 'Adding a unique twist to these personalized pizza boxes [from eBay] (opens in new tab) will show your guests you've gone the extra mile in making it an occasion to remember.'
5. Provide something sweet for dessert
Once everyone has had their fill of pizzas, it might be time to move onto something sweet. And a novelty sweet pizza is just one idea for what you can cook in a pizza oven for dessert.
'You can make sweet pizzas with things such as chocolate spread, fruit and marshmallows served with ice-cream for pudding,’ says Jo Connolly, from Decorbuddi (opens in new tab). You could slice up your fruits into pieces to be sprinkled on like savoury toppings.
Those of your guests who are too stuffed for more dough can just enjoy some fruit to cleanse the pallet. That way everyone is catered for.
6. Add some music to your pizza party
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore! If you're going with vintage-style pizza party ideas then a soundtrack from the Italian American greats like Sinatra and Martin will be ideal.
And while some region's temperamental summer weather can wreak havoc on outdoor party plans, good lighting and music can be the perfect distraction. You could even set up a backyard movie night for when the sun goes down.
'Finding ways to power your playlists or backyard party lighting can be tricky, especially if there’s a lack of solar for your solar power, and the alternative means increasing your energy output and bills, with the bonus of being bad for the environment at the same time. With EcoFlow’s portable power stations you can power your pizza party using renewable energy, keeping costs low and the ambience high,' advises Ryan Xing, the Regional Head of Europe at EcoFlow (opens in new tab).
7. Use a fire pit as the pizza party hub
Making your fire pit the focal point of your pizza party ideas is ideal for a winter outdoor party. Jonny Brierley, CEO at Moda Furnishings (opens in new tab) says: 'If you are hosting guests in your garden in the evening, make sure the fire pit is lit before guests arrive.'
'This creates a wow factor as they step into the garden, and also helps them to relax more quickly. Firelight is said to create a more intimate setting, allowing guests to relax and talk, letting their guards down at the end of the day. The fire provides a visual, psychological comfort from which you and your guests will benefit.'
All of which is ideal for the relaxed ambience that you want to create at your pizza party.
8. Have a crack at making your own pizza dough
Pizza is a guaranteed plate cleaning, sibling silencing, crowd-pleasing, super meal. So why not pick up your rolling pin and make your own?
'Making pizza dough yourself is actually a lot of fun, and it turns out it’s super easy too,' says Sophie Nahmad, pizza expert and Chef at Gousto (opens in new tab). 'It’s basically just bread dough with a dash of olive oil, a little sugar and, to make life a bit easier, no second rising.'
Prepare batches ahead of time and do more than you think you'll need as pizza dough can be frozen and defrosted to be used for any future pizza party.
9. Take your pizza party to the beach
Planning a beach party this season? Then why not use this as an opportunity to make it a fabulous pizza party too? Get your guests' hydration needs sorted with a drink station idea that's suitable for the beach too. Think buckets filled with ice or a portable cooler to keep those beers nice and chilled.
'Set aside the sandy sandwiches and disposable barbecues and celebrate the sunshine with an outdoor pizza oven,' says Ania Mentern, Outdoor Living Buyer at Cuckooland (opens in new tab).
'Totally portable and easy to assemble, create classic Neapolitan style slices or stick to the seaside theme and opt for Frutti di Mare pizzas! The other beachgoers are sure to have serious food envy when they see what you and your party have in store.'
10. Cater for different nutritional needs
'People may be concerned if a vegan turns up unexpected, but fortunately it is 2022 and the supermarkets are FULL of amazing alternatives,' says One Planet Pizza (opens in new tab)co-founder Joe Hill. 'Vegan cheese substitutes are now good enough if you want to make your own pizza,' says Joe. Alternatively you can do pizza with all the toppings, sans cheese.
You might also have gluten intolerant guests who will require their own dough. Luckily, gluten free flour is widely available if you're making your own.
11. Take a portable pizza oven on a camping trip
Choosing a portable pizza oven and a few pizza oven accessories means that you have the luxury of taking them anywhere. And they can come in super handy for camping trips.
Make a special evening of it when you host your camping pizza party. Put on some tunes and give everyone their own special chef's hat for the occasion.
‘Ensure you pick a protected spot out of the wind to place your oven, and lay a table with a variety of meat and vegetarian toppings for guests to choose from, as well as some pre-rolled dough for the pizza bases,' says Jo Connolly.
12. Make your own flavored pizza oils
Flavored oils make delicious toppings for pizzas, and they're vegan friendly. Use home grown chillies and herbs and add them to jars of extra virgin olive oil to allow them to infuse.
If you have enough you could even add some into small glass bottles with hand written labels and give them out as party favors to your guests.
How do you throw a pizza party?
Arthur Bovino, Head of Pizza Content at Ooni (opens in new tab) has these top tips for ensuring your pizza party is a success:
- Have a trial run: Test your pizza recipes before inviting people over. Learn how to make dough you can confidently work with, or, to save time, buy pre-made dough, such as Ooni's sourdough dough balls (opens in new tab) which can be ordered ahead. It’s also worth testing your topping combinations in advance, especially if you’re venturing beyond the classics or trying something unfamiliar.
- Consider fuel-type: When cooking lots of pizza over long periods, you’re going to use lots of fuel, so you might want to think about how much it costs to run a pizza oven. Gas-powered ovens are the easiest choice for fuel management – as long as you’ve got a full tank, you’ll be able to cook for hours. Our most recent launch, the Ooni Karu 16, is a multi-fuel pizza oven which offers immense flexibility – you can cook with gas when catering for larger parties or wood for more intimate, atmospheric, alfresco dining settings. Read Gardeningetc's Ooni Karu review for more details.
- Prep in advance: Proof your dough, mill your sauce, grate your cheese, and chop or slice your toppings ahead of time. Opt for a pizza party ingredients set, which makes it even easier to prep for your pizza party.
- Make it interactive: Pizza-making at a party is a full-time job! Take some of the work off your plate (and kickstart the fun) by involving guests in stretching and topping their own pizzas.
- Remember the recovery calzone: Rips and tears happen. Pizzas go wonky when launched. If this happens, don’t panic: just remember: fold, pinch close all the way along the edge, and launch. Keep that in your back pocket as a trick to save a torn pizza.
- Keep pizzas warm: If you’re not going to be eating them immediately but need several pizzas at the ready, it’s a good idea to keep your home oven on at a very low setting for another place to refire them (melt the cheese and warm up the crust).
- Finally, the most important rule: Keep calm, don’t worry, and have fun! Nobody is a pro right out of the box and mistakes can be a fun part of the process. Remember, it’s a pizza party!