How to Entertain Outdoors
Outdoor entertaining is the easiest entertaining one can do. Most outdoor parties are a little intimidating because it usually requires inviting a larger crowd. However, if planned correctly these outdoor parties can be cost effective and more fun for your guests than indoor entertaining.
The first step to any type of entertaining is choosing a date. If the date falls near a major holiday such as Christmas, New Years, or 4th of July for example, talk with friends to avoid travel conflicts and conflicts with other holiday parties. If you are honoring a friend, find two or three dates that suit the honoree first. If the group will be large, call guests to reserve the date, then follow up with invitations. Invitations should include the date, place, time and specifics about attire. Send out your invitations two to three weeks before the event. Never send out inventions a week before an event and expect your friends to change there plans and come to your party unless you have already invited them personally.
The next step in your preparations is to select a theme. Outdoor parties can be either formal or informal. Will this be a birthday party, anniversary, New Year's party, or Luau? Always have a backup for rainy weather. For formal parties, it is easy to go to your local rental company and rent table clothes, tables, china and most everything including center pieces. This can be very costly. A formal party is usually a bridal or coming out event.
Prepare as much as you can ahead of time so you can also enjoy the party. Choose your table linens, and chairs, and hire servers, cooks, and bartenders for larger parties. Think of your front and backyards, porches and decks, balconies and terraces as extensions of your home.
For a more casual party instead of renting table clothes, cover picnic tables with brown burlap table cloths. Even your best china will look terrific on them. Place terra cotta tubs filled with ice and canned drinks and let guest serve themselves. Encourage casual attire to loosen the mood. Draped fabric can add glamor to almost any event when draped over any table furniture and even hung outdoors. Fabric such as tulle can make a atmosphere look magical. Keep the time of day in mind. If decorations for your nighttime party look a little faded, remember that colors wont show as brightly when the lights go down. Illumination makes the mood. Light up those candles.
Center pieces can also be very economical and affordable. You can even use branches, leaves, ivy, and flowers from you own yard. Try spray painting branches and leaves. Use them as accent pieces. Grapes, bananas, oranges can be used as summery, edible centerpieces.
Music is a must for setting the mood. Music makes great conversation and dancing is always a fun pastime. Select the type of music for the crowd you will be inviting. You would not want to choose country music for friends that you know love classical music, or classical music for a wilder, beachy crowd.
Three days before the dinner do nonperishable grocery shopping, leaving items such as meat, bread, and lettuce until the day of the party. Arrange your centerpieces the day before the party. Smaller bouquets can be arrange the day of the party.
Prepare stock, marinades, and pastry dough the day before the party. The day of, review menus, begin food preparation, set tables, add decorations, place the seating, and bring beverages to the appropriate temperatures.
Greet each guest as they arrive. This party is about celebrating you, your friends, family and your home.
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