Front porches can be especially welcoming, allowing you to wave at a passing neighbor or call them over for a cool drink from your peaceful and comfortable perch. For me, a Southern girl who grew up in South Carolina, porches invoke memories of the people I love watching seasons pass under homemade Halloween decorations (some of which have become beloved heirlooms) or twinkling Christmas lights. Laughing, eating outdoors, and engaging in countless intimate conversations that stretched late into the night on our porch all helped shape me into the woman I am today.
I’m hardly alone in my fondness for porches. Some cities even host annual porchfests, where residents play live music for their neighbors to help foster stronger communities. If you’re lucky enough to have a porch of your own, here are five cheap(ish) things—from smart lighting to a spacious cooler—to make it even better.
Set the mood (lighting)
Wyze Bulb Color
With an easy-to-use app, you can remotely turn this smart light bulb on and off, as well as dim it. The Wyze Bulb’s fantastic color range suits any season or holiday, and it can even mimic the natural lighting of sunrises and sunsets. Just make sure the bulb is well covered—it isn’t rated for outdoor use.
For more options, see our guide to outdoor and backyard lighting we love.
Stock up on drinks and snacks
Coleman 70 Quart Coastal Xtreme Marine Cooler
We love this 70-quart workhorse for its spacious layout, comfortable carrying handles, and four built-in cup holders. A well-designed drain port makes it easy to clean, and if any unexpected guests stop by your porch party, the durable lid acts as extra seating that supports up to 250 pounds.
For more options, see our guide to the best coolers.
Thermacell E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller
To avoid unwanted bites and sudden reactionary slaps, pick up a spatial repellent. The Thermacell creates a safe zone that keeps bugs at bay and lasts five and a half hours between charges. Each odorless cartridge lasts up to 12 hours, so you don’t have to continuously spray a sticky, stinky mist all over yourself and your guests.
For more options, see our guide to the best bug repellents.
Tiny speaker, big sound
Tribit XSound Go
Music gets a party going—just make sure you’re respectful of neighbors. This inexpensive speaker offers surprisingly great volume for its small size and runs for up to 10.5 hours on a single charge. Bluetooth capability makes it easy to switch from one guest’s playlist to another so everyone can share favorite hits and new finds.
For more options, see our guide to the best portable Bluetooth speakers.
Keep things cool
Geek Aire Fan
Nothing drives people inside faster than heat (except bugs, but we’ve already got you covered there). The Geek Aire’s powerful blades keep guests cool and comfortable outdoors, no extension cord required. Our tests showed that the battery lasts between four and a half and 24 hours depending on the setting, and its lightweight frame makes aiming the breeze, well, a breeze.
For more options (that do require extension cords), see our guide to the best fans.
This article was edited by Joshua Lyon and Treye Green.