You know that summer is my jam, right? I love swimming, the long hours of daylight, getting together with friends, and cooking out. But that isn’t the case for everyone in my family. My daughter hates the bugs that come with summer. The Engineer doesn’t like to eat in the heat. The list could go on…
With a simple trick or two, getting together and enjoying your backyard can go from being a battle with the bugs and heat to being what some of your best summer memories are made of. To show you what I’m talking about, I’ve got 10 tips for effortless outdoor entertaining to help turn this summer and all its get-togethers into your favorite jam too.
1. Beat the Bugs
I love this trick; it’s genius. Adding a table fan to gently blow across your serving table will keep flies at bay. This will also work for mosquitos and your seating areas. Neither flies nor mosquitos are strong fliers, so a gentle breeze is enough to deter them from landing on you or your food. Additionally, adding a bug spray station will give your guests extra peace of mind.
Ahead of time: Get rid of standing water one week before your get-together to eliminate mosquitoes. Incorporate lemongrass and citronella plants in your potted plants and place around your seating areas.
2. Outsmart the Heat
Let’s face it, it IS summer. It’s going to be warm. Period. But you don’t have to wilt in the heat. Consider your guests when planning. Choose to entertain in the evening when the sun is not at its highest. You will be surprised at the drop in temperature when the sun starts to set.
It should go without saying, but take advantage of the shade. Set up seating, eating, and serving areas where your shade is best. This is not only good for your guests, but also for your food. Plus, remember those fans you set up to chase the bugs away? They will cool your guests too!
Make sure your guests have plenty to drink. Iced tea, lemonade, fruit and mint waters, and bottled water are important options to include. We all love soft drinks, but include some of these other options to keep your guests hydrated.
Seating doesn’t have to be limited to patio furniture or folding tables and chairs that you’ve borrowed (if you’re like me). Use pretty quilts and pillows to gather picnic style! You can even have guests bring their own picnic blankets and set up in groups in your shaded areas. Do something outside the norm to give your get-together that special touch.
4. Ditch the Disposables
Paper plates, cups, utensils, et. al. can get expensive. Consider incorporating real flatware, fun glasses, or dinner ware. This time of year is also great for picking up cute plastic or melamine picnic dishes on the cheap! I found these baskets on clearance, 4 in a pack for $1.50, and the basket liners were $1.99 for 20. Love that these baskets can be used again and again; plus, it is another unexpected detail that could make your cookout an effortless standout.
There is not anything that makes your guests feel more special than the little details you add to your table and serving areas, and personalization is at the top of this good hostess list! Personalization can come in the form of individually-sized desserts (mini pies or mason jar dessert) or your guests’ names on cups, name tags on silver/plastic ware bundles, or little personalized flags on paper straws. Decorative washi tape was used to make these ahead of time!
No one wants to sweat over the stove or grill in the summer, so keep your menu simple. Avoid dishes with numerous ingredients to keep prep time and cost to a minimum. One of the best tricks to making your backyard gathering a hit is to take a standard and give it a twist! Try Hawaiian burgers (see link below) instead of the expected cheeseburgers or give hot dogs an upgrade by creating a hot dog bar! Get creative and offer your guests a variety of condiments so they can build individualized dogs just the way they like them or maybe even try something new!
Another way to combat the heat is to keep dessert light. Grilled fruit, sliced watermelon, or simple fresh fruit skewers are just a few options that don’t weigh heavy on the stomach while taking advantage of summer’s seasonal fare. Of course, churning your own ice cream is also a perfect ending to any southern summer get-together.
8. No Fuss Centerpieces
Cut flowers don’t always make it in the heat. Keep wilt at bay by using a potted plant for a simple and seasonal centerpiece. Add a fern here or there to seating or picnic areas to create inviting and planned spaces for your guests to enjoy.
9. Don’t Break a Sweat
Keep conversation and laughter at the forefront of your backyard soiree by setting up some low-key activities for your guests. Lawn bowling, croquet, bocci ball, and corn hole are all fun, but leisurely, games that your guests will love without breaking a sweat.
10. Add Some Sparkle
Because you were thoughtful enough to entertain later in the evening, you are in the perfect position to add some sparkle to your get-together! Give those fireflies a hand by adding tea lights in mason jars, votives, or glassware. Citronella candles or torches can pull double duty.
My personal favorites are outdoor lights. String them in trees, on fences, decks, and patios. I use simple Christmas lights with the green wire for my twinkle, but globe lights are what you see in magazines and on TV. They run about $12-15 for about the same number of feet, whereas Christmas lights can run $5.00 for 50-100 ft. a strand.
Extension cords got you tripped up? Use old wire hangers to create u-shaped brackets and hammer in the ground over your extension cords to prevent tripping hazards for your guests.
Outdoor entertaining should be fun and with little to no fuss. Less is truly more, saving you from the heat, as well doing wonders for your budget. But what is most important is that your guests feel comfortable and welcome. After all, they showed up just to spend time with you and spending time with them is why you decided to have this get-together in the first place!
***Pin These 10 Tips for Summer Entertaining Here!***
Interested in more entertaining ideas? Check out these other ASD Summer Hospitality favorites!