Take it Outside

Ahh…Summer has arrived!  We drive with our car windows down; lounge on our porches after work, and look forward to the sunshine and the outdoor air.  We have emerged from our winter dens, and are eager to engage with family and friends.

We want to enjoy our 3 to 4 months of summer weather and pack in enough fun and memories to carry us through winter den moments until we can do it all again.

Though the thought of entertaining can be a bit daunting it doesn’t have to be at all. Planning a successful and enjoyable party (for guests AND hosts) doesn’t demand anything extravagant.  Simple food, hospitable setting, and good company make for a great time.

Here are a few tips that will help guarantee pleasurable entertaining:

1. Simple is fun (and engaging)

When setting your table, consider plain butcher paper as a creative alternative to tablecloths. Using paper to cover the table creates a casually finished look that can be dressed up or down as desired, and make for an easier cleanup at the end. You will find it easy to incorporate this element into any party. For kids, the addition of crayons or markers transforms the table into the canvas of kids’ dreams. For adults, bright colored and metallic markers allow you to add luxe embellishments that resemble artful calligraphy and provide your guests with a great conversation starter. (Available at Gordon Food Service)

2. Have a Seat

Cozy seating encourages great conversation. Thick, comfortable cushions on the chairs will encourage guests to linger at the table. Simple pillows (available from stores such as Ikea or Target) when placed on chairs, benches, or even the ground will invite guests to relax and unwind.

3. Water Water Everywhere

Set up a water bar to keep guests hydrated outdoors. Offer pitchers or carafes of water infused with a variety of fruits and vegetables such as lemons, strawberries, cherries, and cucumbers. Place glasses within easy reach on a table or cart.

4. Guests in, bugs out

There’s nothing worse than swatting bugs while trying to carry on conversation. Circle your party area with citronella candles or incense sticks to light when night falls. Citronella candles (available at Lowes and Home Depot) rid your yard of pesky insects and creates comfort for your guests.

5. Let it Glow, let it glow, let it GLOW

Twinkling strands add instant ambience to any evening party. Wrap your Christmas lights around the trunks and lower limbs of your trees to create a glow.  Paper lanterns (available from stores such as the Dollar Tree and Ikea) draped from tree limbs are charmingly festive and create an illuminated environment.

6. Fire!

Create the crackle of a campfire without roughing it: Set up a fire pit on grass or a stone patio. When nights grow cooler, a patio fire pit lets you continue to entertain outside. Fire pits (available at Big Lots and ACO Hardware Stores) also create perfect end to an outdoor dinner party by setting the stage for s’mores!  Use bamboo sticks for skewers (they’re longer than regular skewers) and the right ingredients — marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. I don’t recommend the use of coat hangers as skewers since they have additives that are used in the molding process that are not suitable for food service. You can find bamboo sticks at  Bed Bath and Beyond.  Simply soak them in water for 30 to 45 minutes prior to use and they will not burn while roasting.

Enjoy your time outdoors!

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