Outdoor Entertaining Essentials

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials It’s time to clean up the patio and fire up the grill, it’s Memorial Day Weekend, and that means it’s the unofficial start to summer and outdoor gatherings. Whether it’s a graduation celebration, birthday party, wedding related fete, or just the perfect excuse to get together and grill some delicious food, I thought I’d share some easy and helpful tips for any type of gathering you decide to host outdoors. Simple yet fresh seasonal dishes, refreshing drinks, and effortless decor that is functional. With a few barbecues in my near future, including my cousin’s graduation party for her Masters Degree, I’ve gathered up some recipe ideas for meals and drinks, tips for personal party touches, and ways for you to enjoy the carefree attitude of an outdoor party along with your guests. Cheers!

Easy Invites. Unless your party is more formal in the sense that it’s a shower, graduation party or birthday, where fabulous invitations are necessary…take a photo of a blooming flower or your grill, and text or email it to guests with all the details of your outdoor barbecue.

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Create One Self Serving Food Area. It may be somewhat kitchy to have one long buffet style table, but it works well for outdoor parties, especially in smaller spaces. Have a smaller table with serving ware, then place appetizers and finger foods on one end working your way to the other end for main entrees. If your party is one that starts early and lingers into night, it’s a great way for guests to casually enjoy different dishes, without having to feel the need to sit down and have an entire meal at once. Just remember to replenish food, and keep what needs to be cold cold and warm warm. Keep your food area in a shaded area, and remember to cover with netting, so critters don’t make their way in. These are some great tips for styling your food buffet. {image via}

Choosing the Menu. As the days become warmer, appetites tend to crave lighter and simpler meals. Plenty of veggies, cold salads, and of course barbecue. Remember to stay clear of cream based sauces and dressings, or meals with ingredients that go bad if not eaten right away. Here’s some tasty options inspiring my next party:

Appetizers: Crostini with grilled summer peaches and mozzarellapickled seasonal veggies, serve individual salsa shooters for Tortilla chips, and smoky flavored popcorn, which works well into the night.

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Main Courses: Grill up summer veggies either as a salad or skewered, setup up different greens and other salad staples, including seasonal vegetables to create a make your own salad station, this also is a great way to serve up raw veggies instead of the boring crudite platter, and serve a fresh take on the beloved pasta salad. Keep burgers and hot dogs on hand if you’d like, but why not delight guests with a seared beef tenderlointequila grilled shrimp, or grilled vegetable pizzas.Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Outdoor Entertaining Essentials

Dessert: Serve up fresh summer fruits, like balls of melon or sliced peaches and strawberries in easy to make paper containers, while brownies, cookies, and pies can withstand the weather and are great scattered together. Create an ice cream bar, or serve up a variety of homemade ice cream sandwiches. Don’t forget the S’mores, use higher quality chocolate and berries for a gourmet touch. 

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Stay Cool with Punch and Pops. Place buckets, or coolers, filled with a mixture of beer, water bottles, juices and other drink bottles, evenly dispersed throughout yard that way guests can easily go to the closest drink area and grab their drink of choice. Along with having at least two varieties of chilled beer and wine, a signature drink is always great and looks great when served in glass decanters alongside infused water, slices of lemon, drinking glasses and straws. Sangria, spiked lemonade or ice tea work well, but this grapefruit margarita sounds delicious. Pops are great for guests of all ages, but nothing is more refreshing than a frozen slice of watermelon.

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Use Functional Decor. Picnic tables instantly reminds us of outdoor gatherings. Dress a table with simple burlap or lace runner and florals handpicked from the garden, and you’ve got a simple and chic outdoor setting area. {image below via}

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Tassels don’t just have to be to for a grad party, these simple diy ones a fun way to weigh down tablecloths and keep them from blowing over. Make them in festive colors to match your party’s look.

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Place photos onto a rope with clothespin hanging from a deck, as a wall to display photos at a birthday or a graduate’s accomplishments. Have a Polaroid on hand where guests can snap photos of themselves, then write a message the honored guest. A great tip, create a hashtag for you next outdoor party that way you’ll get to see all your guests’ fun pictures.

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials These lovely floral pieces works well for both a bridal shower or girl birthday. Create small individual centerpieces for guests with a photo of the guest of honor’s baby photo which can do double duty as place setting and thank you too.

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Hang lots of strings lights and create floating lights by wrapping wire around the tops of mason jars, placing votives inside and hanging {image via}

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials For added shade, drape linen to create a sheer shaded area that still allows the sun to shine through {image via}

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials Sitting by the fire making s’mores is the best way to end a long educational career, lay blankets and pillows for casual relaxed seating for both day and night. {image via}

Extra Tips. Keep the bugs away. For a pest free area, add 5 drops of lavender essential oil to 32 ounces of water. Pour into a spray bottle, wipe down your table and chairs, and keep the bottle on the hand. Fend off unwanted sunburns, and have small bottles of sunscreens on hand guests that can use. And if you’re still not sure how much food and drinks are enough for the amount of guests, check out these great tips for any party.

Happy outdoor entertaining! {image above via}

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