Playing host out back is easier and less expensive than you think. Here are economical ways to transform your outdoor bash:
Get Seated: If you need more seating or surfaces, relocate indoor furniture, like benches or stools. Skip the disposable utensils, too: Use durable everyday dishes and cutlery, parking trays to catch cleared plates next to trash cans. Finally, set up buffet-style food and drink stations, and the party will run itself.
Related: Outdoor Entertaining Products
Serve Yourself: Position your buffet under an overhang or umbrella to protect it from the elements. Then order its contents this way for easy cruising: plates, sides, buns, meats, fixings, and flatware; place an extra set of seasonings (salt, ketchup, etc.) at a central location elsewhere for guests' mid-meal adjustments. (Note: If perishable foods aren't gobbled up in an hour, swap them out with a fresh supply.)
Raise the Bar: A beverage station separate from the food lets guests mix drinks and mingle. Stock the bar with cups, straws (to double as stirrers), and plenty of ice - a large metal pail will keep bottles and cans frosty, but consider an insulated or lidded cooler for ice used in drinks. Label a trash can by the bar so revelers can recycle before they replenish.
Related: All-American Barbecue
At the Ready: Help company stay comfortable outdoors all day - and into the night. Leave out amenities like sunblock, bug spray, hand wipes, and, if it might turn chilly, light blankets.
Keep vs. Toss: Keep home-office supplies on hand, and put them to work at your party. Plastic stick-on flags make perfect drink labels, and rubber bands will secure napkin-wrapped cutlery sets so partygoers can grab utensils one-handed from the buffet. Toss bug-be-gone citronella candles: Good Housekeeping Research Institute tests show that new lanterns, candles, and diffusers with active agents like allethrin, geraniol, and methofluthrin are more effective; they start at $9.
Related: Patio Parties: Throw a Backyard Party
What's your favorite outdoor entertaining trick? Share your ideas in the comments!
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