Yesteryear Tips for Taking Advantage of Outdoor Living this Summer

The pastime of outdoor living seems to be a fast fading tradition. It used to be that people spent as much time outside as they could, soaking up the warmth of the sun and breathing in the fresh air. Our 1950s counterparts used the outdoors as an extra living room during the warmer parts of the year. The front yard, backyard, street and local parks were a key source of entertainment for kids and their parents.

Family Picnic outdoor living

Developers across the country are building single-family homes with bigger square footage and smaller and smaller backyards, if you can even call them that. These spaces have become more like patios or small courtyards, than backyards. Developers are building in this fashion just as much to maximize the plot of land as to respect the needs of the market. They’re trying to match their designs with the habits and desires of buyers who would rather focus on their careers or travels in place of spending time and money on yard maintenance.


Regardless of how we feel about this trend, it seems more unfortunate that people are just not spending time outdoors like they used to. The focus on outdoor living, a formerly strong value in American society, has greatly declined. Fortunately, we still have the outdoors and warm days. Spend some healthy time outside and take advantage of the warm weather with a few tips from the past.

Two couples having a picnic during the '50s outdoor living

Pack a Picnic

Find a park nearby that you’ve wanted to go to, pack some refreshments and go! Picnics were huge during the atomic era. The United States was recovering from the stress, economic slump and rationing of WWII. With soldiers back home and rationing over, families were eager to get on with their lives and spend time together. The idea of picnics had long been around but it wasn’t until Ford dealers started selling picnic kits with camp grills alongside their Model T’s and Model A’s in the 1930s that people started making picnicking a tradition. The activity became as common as going out to dinner today. Take advantage of the long summer evenings or go on a weekend. Relax and enjoy!

Summer outdoor living backyard barbecue 1950s 7-up ad

Have a Backyard Barbecue

Barbecuing became a popular leisure activity in the 1950s. It was the perfect way to enjoy the warmer seasons with friends, family and/or neighbors. We may have more gadgets and technology for our barbecues, but the general concept is the same – serve hot grilled meats and veggies to hungry people accompanied by sunshine, ice-cold beverages, fruit, veggies and other simple snacks. Break out some outdoor games to entertain your guests. We’ve got a whole article dedicated to throwing a truly MCM bbq. We’re firm believers in incorporating food into outdoor living and the backyard cook out is one of our favorite methods for doing so.

1950s neighbors in backyard doing chores

Invite the Neighbors Over Spontaneously

You don’t have to plan a whole event around hanging out outside. Let your neighbors know that you’ve got some refreshing lemonade and snacks for whoever is game. Neighbors were like family back in the ‘50s. Some neighbors even had gates between their backyards to easily come over at any time of day. We’re not endorsing cutting human-sized holes in your concrete fences but maybe try getting to know your neighbors by having them over for a cold one in the comfort of your outdoor space, whatever the size.

neighborhood children at play

Outdoor Games for the Kids (and Adults)

Teach the kids some old school games from the 50’s! You may not know how to play any of the popular atomic era games like Kick the Can, Traffic Cop or Mother, May I, but the Internet does. Here’s an excellent article with rules, the ideal number of players and an equipment list per game.

Neighborhood kids going for a bikeride

Go for a Bike Ride

Another simple way to enjoy mild weather is to get some exercise and ride a bike around. See if you can recruit anyone else in your neighborhood to come with you and cruise around with no destination. Or go on an adventure to a local attraction such as a park, an ice cream shop or the corner store. You’ll feel like a kid again. If you’re with your kids then you’ll be gifting them a wonderful experience of time spent together out in the fresh air, away from any digital distractions.

Backyard gathering outdoor living furniture advert

Just Sit Outside

Why not just grab an iced tea and a book (or your phone or tablet) and rest outside in the shade for an hour or so? You’ll be surprised how relaxing it can be. Lay out on a blanket on the grass or simply recline in a comfortable patio chair taking in the fresh air. Trust us, you’ll love it.


Need some help finding home base before you dive into outdoor living? Contact us today so we can lend our real estate expertise!

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