Outdoor Entertaining Made Easy
by Lane P. Jordan
What could be more fun—or more American—than enjoying the out-of-doors with friends and family?
Personally, I love to entertain, but I especially love to entertain outside. I try to keep it simple so that I can enjoy my guests.
- Keep up with the weather. I have a weather app that lets me know the rain chances, temperature and wind conditions at my home. Check out Dark Sky app.
- Have a plan B. If rain or wind hits, have a location inside your home where you can relocate. But don’t let it dampen your party! Keep up a positive attitude, and your guests won’t even care. They just want to be there.
- Spray the outdoor areas for bugs and mosquitoes before your guests come. You may also circle your party area with citronella candles to light when the sun starts to set. Also consider setting out a bottle or two of bug spray for some guests who may be more sensitive.
- Plan your seating. Have a seat for each person invited. You may need to bring some chairs outside or buy some folding ones you can use each time. However, if you don’t have time to get enough chairs, use pillows or rugs for seating. Also, if your party is during the daytime, make sure you have enough shading. Use the large, standing umbrellas.
- Along with seating, plan what tables you will use. I have a large, folding table I use each time I entertain, and I use a colorful tablecloth that matches the theme I want. A cheaper tablecloth option is to use craft paper and put out some crayons for the kids to draw on.
- Pre-set the table or keep the plates, utensils and napkins at the start of the buffet table. This way you won’t forget anything.
- Continue your decorating with lots of lights. Lanterns with battery-operated, flameless candles are wonderful for outdoors. Another great suggestion is to buy string lights. These come in a set and are weatherproof. You can hang these from fences, walls, bushes, trees, umbrellas or the edge of a roof line. I love my lights!
- And don’t forget flowers. I live in the South, so I have hydrangea and magnolia blossoms in my yard. Just cut off a bloom or two and place in a bowl of water. Beautiful! Or place one bloom in a small drinking glass for smaller areas. You can float peonies and gardenias also.
- Next, plan where each zone will be—a place for the drinks, snacks and buffet table for the food. Let these be easy for the guests to reach. Remember, you want to enjoy the day/night too! I use a rolling cart for my drinks along with a large tub filled with ice and soft drinks. I have small tables set up between chairs for bowls of snacks as well as on the long table where we will eat.
- To save from having to buy and dispose lots of water bottles, get a large pitcher or drink container and make healthy spa water. Take fresh, cut cucumbers, lemons and some mint and place in pitcher with water and ice. Set some disposable cups next to it and voila! Your guests will have all the water they want. And it’s delish.
- When planning the food, let the weather influence the menus. Hot, steamy night? Have lots of cool drinks and savory bites. Choose richer foods on a chilly end-of-summer evening or fall cookout.
- Most outside entertaining involves cooking out on a grill. My husband is a great grill cook. But, if you don’t have a grill, don’t worry. Make a platter of deli meats and cheeses along with salads and fruit.
- Keep bugs away from food with an upended wire-mesh colander. Use toothpicks or ice-pop sticks to place in the rare burgers to separate them from the well-done ones.
- To keep dairy-based dips and other perishable dishes chilled, fill a large bowl with ice, and sprinkle it with kosher salt. Place the dish on top and it will stay colder for longer. Just keep an eye on it and replace as needed. However, on extremely hot days, I’d advise against mayonnaise-based foods, such as chicken or egg salad. These can turn bad quickly.
- One idea which is gaining in popularity is a fire pit! These come in all sizes, and kids love to make s’mores with them and adults love to just sit by them and enjoy a beautiful evening and conversation. You may want to place some throw blankets on the seating areas or in a basket in case the evening gets cool.
- And don’t forget to have outdoor games. A Jenga giant stacking block tower, cornhole game, bean bag toss and ring toss games are excellent ones to choose because they don’t need a lot of equipment or space. Badminton is fun but does take setting up a net and more space. I’ve even seen beach towels with a checkers set printed on it and large black and red pieces. Kids as well as adults love these games.
I hope these ideas have put you into the entertaining frame of mind! Just remember to keep it simple, easy and fun for all.
Lane Jordan is a writer, best-selling author, international motivational and inspirational speaker, singer, artist, Bible teacher and professional life coach. She lives in Frisco, Texas, with her husband who partners with her in ministry. Lane’s desire is to encourage, support and motivate women of all ages to be better wives, mothers and women of God by organizing their lives and time. You can find her at: www.LaneJordanMinistries.com and her blog at www.PathwaysToOrganization.com.
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