Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Outdoor Party!

Summer is a great time of year to gather with friends and family and head outdoors to enjoy the sun and fresh air! Entertaining outside on the patio or deck is a great way to keep the house clean and to use the scenery as your decor!  Follow these tips on having a great deck, patio or lawn  party!

Get organized.  There are a few steps to take before you can start sipping that margarita!

CLEAN!  Yes, we still have to clean, even outdoors!! Sweep the deck, or weed the patio. Clean off all the chairs and tables. Pick up anything that isn't party related and find a home for it!  If you plan on using your grill, give it a good scrubbing!  If you have a pool and are planning on a pool party, make sure it's cleaned, vacuumed and ready to swim in!  Outdoor carpets should get a good sweeping or vacuum.

PICK A THEME!!  I recently hosted a party at my home and called it FRIDAY HAPPY HOUR.  It was a great alternative to having a weekend party.  People are very busy on weekends with weddings and graduation parties at this time of year.  Having a happy hour party, people came right from work for a few cocktails and a bite to eat.  I was able to keep it simple with foods you would find a bar during Happy Hour.  I also followed the lead of a friend and made it a BYOB party.  It worked out great and people didn't seem to mind bringing their drink of choice. This also helps to keep the cost down. However, I did provide a complimentary cocktail of a frozen margarita to all the guests.. I made a huge batch of them the day before and will definitely be making them again, it was so easy and so good!

 I did take the tops off of these before guest arrived and gave them a dip into margarita salt, added a cut lime on the rim and a drink straw!! They were so yummy and so cute!

PLAN YOU MENU!  While BBQ and grilling go hand in hand with summer entertaining, it's fun to think outside the box.  For the Happy Hour party, I did a taco bar.  I loved how simple it was to do.  I had everything prepped ahead of time in bowls and had the meat warming in the crockpot.  Unfortunately I was having so much fun I didn't take many pictures.  I found an inflatable "cooler" at the Party Store.  It kind of looks like a float/boat that you fill with ice. At the start of the party, I filled it with margaritas that were premade and frozen in mason jars. They were a huge hit!  When it was time to eat, I just set the bowls onto the ice and put out the shells (soft and hard).  It couldn't have been an easier meal to serve and everyone loved it.  I stuck to the taco theme and also put out nachos at all the tables earlier.  In the past I have done Italian themed bbq's, luaus, and simple hamburger/hotdog bars.  Use your imagination and go for it, the ideas will start flowing, I promise!  Also don't forget dessert! Since this was a Happy Hour party this last time, I was sure to serve my guests coffee and dessert and let them relax for awhile before they drove home.  I don't love to bake or do desserts. So I tried to think of something fun and different that I could put together fast.  What I came up with sounds strange, but it was delish and everyone loved it.  Earlier in the day I cut up some strawberries.  While the coffee was brewing I put together some donut hole and strawberry skewers! Yup, you read that right, donut holes!  I simply placed a donut hole (different flavors) a strawberry, another donut hole, etc. and then placed them on a beautiful tray and then to finish it off drizzled with chocolate syrup and caramel syrup.  How much more simple can a dessert be? I myself was amazed at how much everyone loved it and though how clever I was. Here I thought I was just being lazy!  I've found that you can put anything on a stick and people will eat it up!!

Decorate!  I didn't go with a wild taco mexican theme for this party.  I kept it simple.  Just threw some cute tablecloths on the tables, made sure there were plenty of fresh flowers, and candles.  I did find some adorable napkins that I couldn't pass up,  they screamed  "Happy Hour" to me, and everyone got a kick out of them!

THE LITTLE EXTRAS:  When entertaining outdoors you usually get some uninvited guests!  Mosquitoes are very pesky and can ruin an enjoyable night out on the deck.  I provided my guests with Off Smooth & Dry mosquito repellent. I love this stuff because it's a powder dry spray formula and it doesn't stink!!  I also had plenty of citronella candles lit everywhere!
Another thing I love to do when having a party is to keep a basket of toiletries for my guests in the powder room.  I fill with things like hair ties for the girls, tide pens, tampons/pads (that are in a cute little pouch), lotion, etc.  Guests always mention how much they love it.
MUSIC!!! Oh, you must have music to have a great party!  I try and make a playlist ahead of  time.  For this party I made two playlists.  One faster, livelier one for earlier when everyone was in party mode and one, easy, bluesy, jazzy one for later when everyone was winding down.
Games! I had bocce ball out on the lawn, and decks of cards out on the tables. In the past I've set out checkers and chess and people always play! So don't forget the frisbees, football, can jam, etc!

There is still plenty of summer left to plan a get together for the deck or patio.  It can be intimate or large.  Have you had a party this summer?  Are you planning one? What theme are you going to go with?? Tell me all your ideas, I'd love to hear them!!

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