Host a Bril­liant Back­yard Bash

From food to setup, these ge­nius tips help you throw a sum­mer soiree that’s easy, breezy and un­be­liev­ably fun.

Simple & Delicious - - CONTENTS -

Get savvy tips for throw­ing the best darn shindig of the sea­son.

Back­yard par­ties are es­sen­tial to sum­mer. They’ve got a built-in laid-back vibe that makes it easy to slow down, fill up your plate and kick back in the sun­shine. But there’s still plenty to plan for when it comes to these out­door ex­trav­a­gan­zas. Make sure you have ev­ery step cov­ered so you can host the ul­ti­mate back­yard (or pa­tio, or deck, or porch…) ex­trav­a­ganza.

Prep Early

Mak­ing food ahead of time can al­le­vi­ate stress, so if any recipes can be prepped the week­end be­fore and held till the guests be­gin to ar­rive, try to knock ’em off early— in­clud­ing serv­ing ice cream. Dish it up ahead of time, freeze sin­gle scoops on a cookie sheet and then set them out just be­fore serv­ing. You’ll save time (and tired scoop­ing wrists) when dessert rolls around.

Add Ex­tra Seat­ing

Plan to have enough seat­ing for ev­ery­one. Guests may not all be sit­ting at the same time, but it’s al­ways best to have the op­tion. If there aren’t enough chairs, bring out stools, benches, blan­kets or even that old bean­bag. Don’t be afraid to mix and match what you have, and keep it ca­sual.

Have a Cooler Handy

Cool drinks are a must at any sum­mer shindig. To keep bev­er­ages chilled and the fun fac­tor high at your party, fill bal­loons with wa­ter, tie them off and place in the freezer un­til frozen solid. At party time, add the frozen wa­ter bal­loons to a small kid­die pool, and nes­tle in bot­tled bev­er­ages to chill un­til sip­ping time. For the more con­ven­tional cooler route, tie bot­tle open­ers to the han­dles so guests never have to go on a quest or out of their way to crack open a cold one. Keep food chilled through­out the party by fill­ing that kid­die pool with ice and plac­ing dishes like potluck sal­ads, dips and re­frig­er­ated desserts on top. Be sure to set the pool on top of a ta­ble so it’s off the ground and easy for peo­ple, not crit­ters, to reach.

Serve with Speed

When eat­ing time rolls around, keep the buf­fet line mov­ing by leav­ing enough room on both sides of the ta­ble. (This means you may want to set out ad­di­tional serv­ing uten­sils for each dish, too.) Make it easy to see what’s be­ing served by cre­at­ing food la­bels to set be­side each dish. (Bonus points for not­ing what’s free of gluten, nuts or dairy!) And keep a small bas­ket or box filled with bun­dled sil­ver­ware and nap­kins nearby so guests can grab and go in a flash. If you have a plat­ter of grilled burg­ers or hot dogs set up, cor­ral top­pings and condi­ments nearby in a stan­dard muf­fin tin. Each cup can hold ketchup, mus­tard, onions, pick­les, mayo and more. Add small serv­ing spoons to each cup so guests can cus­tom­ize their burg­ers, dogs and more to their delight.

Say Bye-Bye to Bugs

Shoo pests away from the scene by set­ting pretty pots of fresh herbs on ta­bles. Aro­matic plants like lavender, mint, rue and tansy are nat­u­ral in­sect re­pel­lents, and they can dou­ble as an easy cen­ter­piece! You can also add a bun­dle of sage to the fire pit to ward bugs away from the bash.

Plan your full cook­out menu: tas­te­

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