Planning that summer barbeque or dinner party can be a stressful feat. You can make things easier for yourself and have more time to spend with guests by preparing most of the dishes ahead of time. Write out a list of everything that will be needed for the menu and get the shopping done early in the week. Make sure to stock up on single-serve soft drinks, bottled water, beer, wine and bottled margaritas to stash in the cooler. Prepare cold salads one or two nights before to let the dressing marinate. Cutting up fruit for salad can be a tedious job, so slice and dice the day before. If you are serving steak, fish or chicken, let the meat marinate overnight until ready to throw on the grill. Cookies can be stored frozen and thawed overnight. Then just pop them on a pretty platter. Gather your condiments in a basket and they are ready to carry over to the buffet table.
You don’t want your party to be a bust, so make sure you have several areas of the yard staged for fun. Set up chairs around the fire pit and create a s’mores making station on a nearby table. Decorating can make a bland space more exciting. Add tablecloths in fun summery patterns, tiki torches, string lights and flower bouquets in vases or found vessels. If you have a hot tub or jacuzzi spa, this is a great place to stage a lounging area complete with a bar. Don’t forget to have extra towels available and plastic travel bags for wet swimsuit storage. Have a stereo or MP3 player nearby to enhance your guests’ enjoyment. Don’t forget the yard games! Badminton, croquet, horseshoes and volleyball are all crowd-pleasers.
Less Mess, Less Stress
If you put garbage and recycling bins out where guests can see them, they will get the idea and clean up after themselves. Make sure that you have food storage containers and zippered bags ready to get any leftovers put away and get the dishes soaking or in the dishwasher immediately.
These ideas will help take the stress out of summer entertaining and will allow the host to mingle with guests instead of being unprepared.