Creative Ideas For Outdoor Entertaining
As the weather gets warmer, there's nothing more fun than taking the party outdoors. Whether you're having a backyard bash or an intimate gathering on your condo balcony or rooftop, here are some tips for a simple, sophisticated summer 'do.
Be deliciously different. Think outside the burger, and try something like marinated vegetable skewers or grilled pizza. If you plan to barbecue something that falls apart easily, like fish or veggies, use a grill rack. Put a sprig or two of fresh rosemary on the coals while you're grilling. Not only will the food taste great, but your party will smell wonderful.
Serve a signature cocktail. Set up a margarita or non-alcoholic punch station. Set out rimmed glasses, slice some limes, then serve the drink in pitchers with lots of ice and let guests help themselves.
Let your guests help themselves. Spend time enjoying your guests instead of serving them. Set up an elegant outdoor buffet by covering a side table with a crisp white tablecloth. Create "bouquets" of cutlery in vases, or make a neat pile of restaurant-style "roll-ups" with paper napkins. Decorate with candles, flowers and fresh herbs.
Light up the night. String holiday lights along railings and in trees. Go with white for an elegant look, or coloured lights for a more whimsical mood. Inexpensive citronella torches add a great ambience and get rid of bugs. Set out lots of candles in open mason jars. Group them in big multilevel bunches for an intimate feel, or space them in equal increments along a fence or railing for a modern touch.
Break out the marshmallows. Pick up a portable patio campfire for unbeatable ambience at your evening soiree. The campfire looks like a stone-ringed pit, but is gas-fueled and easy to move around. Be sure to check fire codes in your area, and if you're entertaining on a balcony or a rooftop, check with your building to what the rules are.
Be on bug patrol. Use citronella lamps and candles to keep mosquitoes away, and put a bottle of insect repellent in plain sight so guests don't have to ask.
Always remember the first rule of summer entertaining: keep it simple and enjoy yourself. Plan ahead, get everything ready well ahead of time, then sit down and enjoy the sunshine or starlight - and the warm company of friends and family.
The Homeowner, Summer 2007