Summer’s in full swing! The smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of kids playing, and the sight of clear blue skies fill our senses, while we all prepare for a season of summer fun… including lively get-togethers!
This year, make your summer parties even more entertaining, affordable, convenient, and healthy with just a few simple touches. Here are several helpful suggestions to get you get started in planning the most successful soiree of the season:
- Go for multi-purpose décor: Your summer entertaining will most likely be outside, so spruce up your deck or patio with items that not only add to the atmosphere and style of your spot, but also help everyone enjoy themselves. A large table umbrella can add a dash of color while also keeping your guests shaded. Hanging lanterns and twinkle lights are an elegant way to help everyone see each other once the sun goes down. And citronella candles can help to fill the air with great scents while also keeping pests away.
- Make it a DIY gathering: While the grill is going, set up everything else outside. Line a table with stacks of plates, cups, napkins, utensils, buns, and side dishes. Then fill a cooler with everyone’s favorite drinks nestled in ice. When the food is ready, your guests can fill their own plates and pluck their own favorite items off the grill while you enjoy the visit. You’ve just reduced clean-up duty as well!
- Embrace and customize themes: Themes are a great way to coordinate all get-togethers, large or small. Sometimes a few details might make you wary of a certain idea, but this summer take advantage of any great theme by customizing it to you. Want to unwind with friends and a cool drink after work while watching the kids? No problem. Create some frozen drinks everyone can enjoy while relaxing together. Love the idea of a picnic, but not the reality of being less than comfortable? Instead of a blanket, use outdoor chair cushions to make your spot more enjoyable while still getting that picnic feel. You get the idea.
- What can we bring? It’s the question you usually get right after inviting friends and family over. Then you probably usually say, “Nothing at all” or “Just yourselves!” But there’s a way to take advantage of their generosity without putting them out. Tell guests who offer some help to bring their favorite outdoor games or music. These are two areas you might forget about, and there’s no cost for your guests to bring what they already have. Win-win.
- Don’t be afraid to mix up the menu: We know, it’s barbecue season. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend the next three months dining on nothing but hot dogs and hamburgers (though you still will want to at least a few times, right?). This summer, change things up by trying a different main course option. For instance, grill your favorite fish as the centerpiece of your meal to add a fun new taste to your typical summer dining. Also be sure to take advantage of the great variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables available at outdoor farmers’ markets or even your own garden. Everything tastes best at its peak ripeness.
Remember, this great weather won’t last forever, so get out and enjoy it. Make this summer all about having fun with your favorite people, and keep an eye out for ways to do so more easily and affordably.