Whether it’s for a Sunday brunch or cocktails at sunset, summer provides the best time for outdoor entertaining. And we always emphasize that the host should enjoy the party as much as the guests. Check out our top 10 tips for practical outdoor entertaining this season:
1. Keep Drinks Ice Cold
If you want entertaining to feel effortless, let your friends fend for themselves and serve buffet-style. Make it easy and set up a cooler of drinks within reach of everyone. A full cooler will maintain cold temperatures much longer than ones that are partially filled. So, be sure to surround your favorite brews and bottles of wine with plenty of extra ice or freezer packs. Cheers!
2. Dine on Durable Dishes
The dinnerware you choose for your patio party is just one way to strike the right mood. With all the moving in and out of doors, you probably want to avoid anything easily breakable. But don’t suffer through flimsy paper plates. These days, you can find durable designs that are both fashionable and functional. Modern dishmakers are making design-forward creations that are sure to impress your guests. They’re reusable, environmentally friendly and practical.
3. Enjoy a Glass of Wine
Delight your guests with a new taste in white wine and pour a glass of Viognier. This fruity drink, full of floral aromas, apricot, peach and spice flavors, goes well with grilled chicken, fish, fresh fruit and medium to strong cheese. According to enjoyingviognier.com, over the past 10 years, this grape from the Rhone region has been growing in popularity. Today, Viognier grapevines can be found all over the US in places such as California, Colorado, Georgia and Virginia. It’s best when consumed young and is perfect for a warm weather celebration.
4. Light Your Landscape
Cast a magical glow upon your evening event and illuminate your landscape with soft lights. Try using earth-friendly solar lights that are simply powered by the sun. They’ll automatically brighten as twilight moves to moonlight. Or, switch your regular bulbs for compact fluorescent lights. They’re four times more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, so you’ll help reduce electrical emergencies during the summer due to high use of fans and air conditioners. Plus they produce less heat, so you’ll stay a bit cooler anyway!
5. Heat the Hearth
Extend your event into the night and keep your friends comfortable with a backyard campfire. It may be summer, but once the sun falls beneath the horizon, a chill can hit the air. Experts at hearth.com suggest that when using your outdoor fireplace, be sure to leave some space between the logs. Crisscross the wood by placing two splits one way and two the other. And remember that less is more. This encourages the air to flow, which in turn creates a smaller, hotter fire without smoke getting in your eyes.
6. Strike Up a Conversation
Stimulating interesting conversation is key for any get-together. Help foster new friendships and add an element of excitement to the night by strategically placing chairs in ways that will bring people together. Creating a comfortable atmosphere will assist guests in relaxing and feeling at ease. If you’re sitting down at an outdoor dinner table, why not put out casual place cards. By deciding ahead of time who sits next to whom, each guest will feel like they’re a part of the group and encourages everyone to step out of their safety zone for the evening.
7. Keep Bugs at Bay
Use citronella candles to keep insects from invading your backyard BBQ. Citronella oil is derived from a tropical grass that repels bugs without harming them. Gone are the days when you could only find cheap versions at the grocery store. Now you can add stylish-looking candles that provide sensual light and encourages those creepy-crawlies to stay away. Get things going early and light them a half an hour before guests arrive so the scent can start filling the air. Then, everyone can concentrate on having fun without the fuss.
8. Warm Weather Cooking
As the temperatures rise outside, don’t spend hours slaving over a hot stove. Cooking can be a breeze if you use simple recipes. Less time cooking = more time lounging with your friends! But when you are handling food, take extra precautions since warm weather provides the ideal setting for bacteria to multiply. Refrigerate marinating meat and vegetables, wash hands with hot water when handling food and use a clean thermometer for checking the internal temperatures of foods. Then, bon apetit!
9. Groom Your Garden
Plan ahead and get your landscape looking top-notch for your next garden get-together. A day or two before the party, give your lawn a good mowing. If you do it the day of, you could stir up dust and pollen, causing those with allergies to sneeze throughout your soiree. Our friends at hgtv.com suggest that right before people arrive, use an old Japanese trick and give your plants a light watering so that they sparkle and shine in the sun. Everyone will give two thumbs up to your green thumb.
10. Sipping Pastis
Start the night off right with a cool cocktail. Try something different and greet your guests with a Pastis. This classic Provence aperitif was invented in Marseille and is a direct descendent of the infamous absinthe. For a wonderfully refreshing drink, pour an ounce and a half of the liquor into a tall glass, then slowly add four ounces of cool clear water. If you want to add ice, do it at the end to avoid crystallization. Sipping Pastis cleanses the palate while the main ingredients, star anise and licorice, aids digestion, getting guests ready to move on to the main course.