As we start to resume gathering with our friends and family, outdoor dinner parties are a perfect way to ease back into entertaining. Dust off your hosting skills with these summer party hacks to make it the easiest dinner party ever! Here’s how to spend less time playing host and more time hanging out with your guests.
1. Get outside.
Utilize your outdoor space to throw a summer party under the stars, a pergola or the treetops. Update your patio space with wall decor, a fire pit or planters. Make sure there is plenty of outdoor seating for your guests. Oversize pillows are an easy way to create cozy additional seating.
2. Choose a warm-weather menu.
Summer is not the season for soups or roasts. Treat your guests to a menu that is light and fresh. Should your salad feature arugula or spinach? What fruits can you add to a savory dish? Will your dessert feature berries or stone fruits? Answer these question with a stroll around your local farmers’ market. A seasonal menu is sure to impress your guests long after dessert is served.
3. Sip, sip; fizz, fizz!
The best way to get a dinner party started is with a full glass. Serve a signature cocktail to your friends and family. Make use of seasonal fruits: Summer is the time for mangoes, peaches, strawberries and pineapple. Sangria, anyone?
4. Get nostalgic.
Encourage your guests to recapture the magic of childhood summers with fun games and activities. Bust out the sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Draw up a hopscotch board. Get your hula-hoop hips warmed up. Being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t have good, clean fun! No guest is going to forget a dinner party that makes them feel 10 years old again.
5. Be attentive.
The best host is a considerate host. Be sure to get a sense of any dietary restrictions your friends and family might have. A few easy swaps and alternates will make all the difference. If you serve beer, make sure to have a cider alternative for guests who are gluten-free, and try making one or two favorite gluten-free recipes. Be sure your menu includes meatless options for vegetarians. If you have ice cream for dessert, include a sorbet for friends who don’t eat dairy.
What’s a party without decorations? Throwing a party can be the reason you finish your next DIY project. A homemade flower chandelier or a colorful tablecloth are the personal touches that will make your summer dinner party stand out. Good food is even better in a beautifully decorated setting.
7. Keep the bugs at bay.
Make sure your garden or patio is as insect-proof as possible. Fire up citronella candles, provide your guests with bug repellents, and make sure there is indoor seating to ensure everyone stays comfortable throughout the evening.
8. Go floral.
Bright blooms are sure to make a party pop. Fresh-cut flowers can be used in centerpieces or as wall decor. Choose flowers based on your summer dinner party color scheme. Big, bold blooms bring lots of life and color to a table. Small flowers in petite vases provide tiny pops of color all around. Check out local markets to see what’s fresh.
9. Light it up.
All good parties have great ambiance. Enjoy your summer dinner party under a canopy of string lights. You’ll create an unforgettable vibe and also provide enough brightness for your guests to find their knives and forks.
10. Send them home with something.
Whether your party favors are a truly involved project, or just “some assembly required,” give your guests something to remind them of the fun night they had. Mix up a batch of DIY chalk, plant some succulents or wrap up mini Champagne bottles with a bow. It’s the small, personal touches that make a summer dinner party truly memorable.
(Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at www.bhg.com.)