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Backyard bash
ENTERTAINING

Backyard bash

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Take your next party outdoors – the evenings are warm, the grill is hot and it’s time to plan an evening dinner on the lawn, deck or patio. Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t entertain with style! Here are some ideas to make your summer soiree easy and breezy!

Timing is everything

Guests will keep their cool if the party starts after the midday sun begins to give way to the long shadows of evening and dusk. If it is still uncomfortably warm, iced spray water bottles will keep them chilled out.

The big chill

Keep soft drinks and beer on ice – but you can make a splash if you use a different holder than a typical metal or foam cooler. Fill a wheelbarrow with ice and beverages, or a vintage sink, galvanized metal buckets and round tubs – and how cute would it be to fill a little red Radio Flyer wagon with ice and kids’ drinks?

And don’t forget the chilling power of fresh fruit – watermelon, fresh berries, kiwi, and plums, citrus and other summer fruits can be artfully arranged on bread boards with yogurt dips for a cooling sensation.

Fill carafes with water, ice and lemon slices. Set up a beverage station and use beverage dispensers for icy lemonade, sangria or something sparkly and fun.

Coordinating efforts

A summer bash doesn’t need a theme, but you can easily amp up the style and appeal and make it all seem sooo effortless. Use a yard or two of pretty fabric to spread down the center of the dining table. Mix and match choices of dinnerware, napkins and glassware and other tableware.

Create gorgeous – and summery – centerpieces for the table by filling glass vases with lemons and topping with fresh or faux blooms. Scatter whole lemons or other fruits and candles (in holders and jars) around the table for effect.

Stringing lights above the dining area adds to the festive, party atmosphere.

Make food part of your tablescape. For example, arrange cheeses, nuts, fruit, rustic bread, homemade crackers, etc., or appetizers on bread boards or vintage trays. Let guests help themselves by placing the filled boards up and down the table and perhaps near the beverage station.

The menu

A grilled main dish is a given at a summer party. Be sure and prep in advance – forming patties, marinating meats, etc. Sides should include such summer bounty as fresh green beans, corn, peppers and other vegetables prepared on the grill or used to make salads and other easy-to-prepare dishes that are big on flavor.

Rather than a complicated dessert, opt for individual serving-sized and handheld desserts. Arrange the mini desserts on cake plates and use them as part of your table décor, as well.

What’s the buzz?

You don’t want guests to spend all their time slapping at mosquitos and waving away bugs. Light citronella candles and torches to ward off buzzing insects, and use a garden and yard fogger to encourage pests to stay away.

Party games

Set up an outdoor movie screen and view summer classic movies after the sun goes down– “Jaws,” “Summer Rental,” “Grease,” “Weekend at Bernie’s,” “Dirty Dancing” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation” spring to mind.

Lawn games can be fun, too, like bag toss, croquet, badminton and horseshoes.

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