Whether you are hosting an informal backyard party, barbeque or fancy soiree, outdoor entertaining requires planning and organization. Here are a few tips to help make it a breeze.
Send invitations if you’re going to invite more than 12 people or if you have a theme for your outdoor party; otherwise just call or e-vite your guests.
Be sure to ask guests if they have any food allergies or special preferences (vegetarian, kosher, diabetic, etc.), before you plan your menu. This way everyone is able to enjoy the party fare.
Clean your house. Although the party is outdoors, many of your guests will be moving throughout your house to use the bathroom or stop in the kitchen to assist you. Clear out all the clutter the day before your party. This will give you more time to focus on food prep and decorations.
Mix up the seating. If you have multiple outside spaces, set up a table, chairs, and blankets throughout the yard.
Make 50 percent more food than you think people will eat to ensure you have enough. For large parties, rely on dishes that will freeze so nothing goes to waste.
Account for anything that might prevent entertaining outside: If you think bugs, rain, heat, or cold might get in the way of your party, make sure you have a backup plan.
Light up the night. Use glass hurricanes to hold tabletop candles so the wind doesn’t blow them out, and position torches around the edges of the party to create a perimeter and cast dramatic shadows.
Place attractive trash cans nearby to prevent trash from piling up on the table. And, be sure it starts out empty.
Plant fragrant blossoms around your patio or terrace which will release their heady scent at dusk. Consider jasmine, mock orange and passion vine.
Buy some melamine dinner plates for a party. They come in delightful designs and are lightweight and unbreakable and they are much prettier and user friendly than mundane paper plates.
Remember the music. Play warm-weather music like salsa or reggae. These tunes were meant to be enjoyed outdoors.
Williams-Sonoma Entertaining: Outdoor, by George Dolese
An Invitation to the Garden: Seasonal Entertaining Outdoors, by Michael Devine
HomeWork: How ready is your backyard for outdoor entertaining? – www.seattletimes.com