A fun way to celebrate the summer months is to entertain friends and neighbors outdoors with good food and drinks. Those of us who throw dinner parties know that they can be stressful. Here are a few tips for a worry-free and pleasant evening for you and your guests.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan. A successful dinner party needs structure, organization, and time. It takes me at least a month or more. The first two weeks, my party is all on paper. I may jot down several themes, menu plans, maybe a couple different guest lists — one for my friends who like to get a little more tipsy than others, and shopping lists.
Test Run Menu
I always tell people when they ask how to prepare their summer menu, do what feels right for you. Whether it’s trying a new recipe, sticking to an old favorite, or buying ready-made foods, you should feel confident about what you’re serving. For me it all depends on what type of atmosphere I’m trying to create. When hosting a small intimate dinner, complete with fancy dress attire and polished silverware, I try to wow my guests with a new spread. That’s where testing your menu comes into play. I make a small amount of the recipe and have my husband try it. He’s my food critic.
If I’m going for a more casual setting, my menu might consist of older recipes. I may throw in a new one, but it will be simple. My thoughts on buying ready-made foods… Don’t! Not to say I’ve never done it, but if that’s the way you want to go, try to make it your own. Don’t go to your local Food Lion, buy their macaroni salad and try to pass it off as your own. Add something unique to the dish like fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. It is your dinner party after all.
Ultimately, you want your guests to have a great time, but don’t kid yourself, the food matters. You’ve spent all month planning and putting thought into your meal, at the end of the night you want your friends and neighbors to go home in awe.
Mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies are not only a nuisance, but they can carry deadly diseases. Take precautions to avoid becoming their food supply.
A few days before throwing a summer dinner, do some basic lawn care. Cutting your lawn helps tremendously and it’s more inviting. Get rid of all standing water. No, that doesn’t mean empty your bird bath or dump out your dogs water bowl. You can buy Mosquito Dunks at Lowe’s that are safe for your animal’s water, fish ponds, bird baths, and other areas.
Spray-on repellents like Cutter, Off, or Bull Frog work temporarily, but they will leave you smelling like chemicals. I use a home-made concoction of Skin So Soft and catnip oil. However, I set up a table that offers both.
A mixture of Citronella candles, Off! coils, and a few ThermaCell mosquito repellent lanterns will keep those pesky insects at bay and I recommend to my guests that they wear light-colored clothing to help avoid the hassle.
Try these tips at your next summer function and have a great time!