“I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that's what gets a dinner party off to a fun start.” – Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa
As soon as the warmer weather arrives I look forward to easy afternoons spent in the yard, evenings at the cottage with friends, or a fun family night. All spent in the backyard, on the patio or deck and all spent enjoying the warm weather and great company. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone – what’s not to love about warm summer nights?
When you’re the host, however, sometimes you end up spending more time running around than enjoying yourself so I’ve pulled together five of my most helpful hosting tips to help you make outdoor entertaining easy, giving you time to reap the rewards of your effort and enjoy the great outdoors with friends and family.
1) Preparation is Key
Advance preparation is critical to your success. Make a menu plan and look at how many of the dishes you can make a day or two in advance. Potato salads and bean salads, summer barbecue staples, are easy to make ahead and in fact taste better after they’ve marinated in themselves for a while – bonus!
2) Allocate Space
Make sure you’ve got enough chairs or seating for guests outside. You’ll also want to think about your fridge space. Are guests going to bringing dishes and beverages? Make sure you’ve rearranged your fridge so it’s easy for guests to pop their items in without too much disruption. Having an outdoor beverage centre or bar fridge can really help with space if you’re a regular backyard entertainer. Or, start dreaming this summer of next summer’s project: the creation of your dream outdoor kitchen.
Check out these great tips on how to organize your fridge before and after a dinner party.
3) Delegate Tasks
Instead of trying to do everything, it’s helpful to delegate tasks to friends and family to help with simple things like passing food or topping up wine. You can also advance delegate by having guests bring their favourite salad or dessert, taking some of the food prep off your hands and offering up the opportunity to try a new recipe.
4) Simplify Things
A great event doesn’t need much other than some great company, so keep things simple by:
- Offering up a ‘signature’ pre-made cocktail rather than mixing drinks all night
- Pre-select your playlist and let it play so you can sit back and relax
- Make sure guests know they can help themselves to food and drink
- Serving food up buffet-style, allowing guests to help themselves and keep things casual
5) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Easy summer evenings spent in the company of friends and family are meant to be celebrated. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Sometimes the chicken gets burnt because you’re too busy enjoying a great story. Sometimes the fridge is too full you need to use the bathtub to hold drinks. Sometimes things spill and sometimes things break, but all of those things memories they make.
Looking for more outdoor entertaining inspiration & recipe ideas? Check out this incredible Guide to Summer Entertaining from Epicurious.com, complete with recipes, menu ideas, drinks, and table setting ideas.
Isabelle, Your Appliance Expert