Summer Entertaining Guide

Warm weather is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors without leaving home. But first, make sure you’ve freshened up your deck and gotten your home ready for summer entertaining.

Deck Out the Deck

Getting your deck ready for summer is more than just dusting off the pollen. It’s about creating an outdoor space that sets the right mood and gives guests a place to gather comfortably. First and foremost: clean up the deck itself.

Dress It Up

summer entertaining guideBecause most decks are uncovered, choose furniture that’s both stylish and easy to care for. Rust-resistant, wrought-iron frames are low-maintenance and affordable, and can be paired with comfy cushions in summery patterns — just be sure to pick cushions that have both seat and back pads.

If wrought-iron isn’t for you, try teak furniture. A more expensive but luxurious option, teak is easy to care for and keeps its color for years if oiled regularly.

Whatever style of furniture you choose, remember that the number of pieces you select should be dictated by your space. With too many it’ll feel crowded, but with too few your guests end up sitting on the steps.

Green It Up

Once your furniture is in place, it’s time to lay on the green. Leafy, potted plants bring nature closer in and create a feeling of seclusion on a deck. Just pick pots in varying shapes, sizes and colors and group them around the floor and on railings, if possible. Groups of three or five often work best. Mix flowering plants with leafy plants for a varied, colorful look.

Clean Up the Grill

You can be the greatest cook, but if your grill’s dirty your food won’t taste — or look — as good. Instead of tackling the grease with a wire brush, try this fruity fix to make it as fresh as new: warm up the grill, cut an orange in half, put on gloves and then rub the orange on the grill rack. The next time you heat the grill, all residue will disappear. (If you don’t have an orange on hand, take a long piece of aluminum foil, ball it up and rub it over the cold grates.)

Add a Little Panache

A done-up deck, some delicious barbeque and a good group of friends is all you need for a summer party. But it’s those extra little touches that people remember forever. Try these ideas at your next backyard bash.

Choose a Theme

A party theme can be almost anything — a Mexican fiesta, a Hawaiian luau, a Las Vegas casino, a Mardi Gras celebration or even a water world for the kids. Start decorating by using colorful, flowering plants in containers that blend into the style and decor you’ve chosen. Next, set the mood with music. Pick a few hours’ worth of music that fits your theme and turn the speakers up. Finally, hand out party favors like Hawaiian leis or sombreros that guests can wear all night and then home with them.

Barefootin’

Summer entertaining means bare feet — so make sure your guests feel comfortable slipping their shoes off. Encourage them to go au natural or offer flip-flops as party favors. Just grab a large basket or tin, buy flip-flops in all different colors and sizes, tie pairs together with ribbon or netting — and let the relaxation begin. Your guests — and their feet — will thank you.

Capture the Moment

Don’t let your party disappear with the night — get your guests to capture it on camera. Put disposable cameras (with flash) on tables, chairs and deck railings so your guests can snap photos at any time. When the evening is over, you can keep the cameras for yourself or give them away as parting gifts.

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