Friday, May 15, 2009

Outdoor Entertaining 101, part 2

Continuing on with my tips and tricks for your great outdoor parties this summer (Did I really just say that? Seriously, where has the time gone?) , here is edition #2 with some party prep ideas.

I have a huge family so one of my biggest challenges with outdoor entertaining is rounding up enough seating for the whole family. I think this is important because it is extremely difficult to stand and eat a meal at the same time, and although my patio table seats 6 that doesn't even cover my immediate family. The best way to deal with this is to send out an invitation- BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair) or thrift some odd chairs and benches to have handy for a large group. If you're really wanting something unique, spray paint mismatched chairs bright colors and pair with a card table covered with a vintage oilcloth table cover- kitschy fun and useful! Check out this dining room on Apartment Therapy's Re-Nest for ideas.

Especially on hot days, you're going to go through a lot of drinks. Keep your guests hydrated while keeping your sanity by prepping several pitchers of iced tea ahead of time and stashing them in the refridgerator. I love Liptons Cold Brew iced tea because when you're low on drinks, this stuff brews at lightning speed in the fridge. To sweeten your tea, ditch the sugar packets or messy loose sugar and prep some simple syrup ahead of time. (Boil equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan, and simmer on medium-low for 8 minutes. Cool and transfer to a container) I put mine into recycled glass bottles or oil and vinegar bottles from the dollar store. Get creative and flavor some of your syrups by adding mint, lemon, or fruit into the pan when your boil it. Be sure to strain it before adding to your shaker. Label them with a paper tag and ribbon.
Glass Oil Bottles by allJeweledup

If you are serving sodas or bottled drinks, make sure to keep your recycling bin in plain sight so your guests will recycle. It not only cuts down on the amount of garbage your throw out, but you're making less of an envioronmental impact that way. Remember that aluminum foil is recycleable too- so if you're using it on the grill rinse it well and stick in in with your cans. Check the recycling code on your plastic cups and party ware with your local waste management's approved recycleable items.

Nothing ruins a good party like food poisoning, so make sure you keep your foods cool. Large tin buckets are available and home improvement stores and can be filled with ice to place your drinks or salads in. And to drop the temp quickly on luke warm drinks or food, add some salt to your ice. It will react with the ice and make the ice water colder. Just be sure to have more ice on hand to replace what's in the bucket once it melts. You can even dress these up with vinyl decals on the outside or by sticking pinwheels in the ice.

That's it for today- I have some party planning and yardwork to do myself. Enjoy your parties, and see you tomorrow with more tips. Ciao.


  1. Great entertaining tips! I am so glad that summery weather is finally here. Now if I can just pick a non windy day for my next get together!

  2. Great ideas. I'm so glad that summery weather is finally here. You make me want to have a party!