Outdoor Entertaining Tips

Summer is well underway, and for many people the warm weather means planning for barbecues, outdoor parties, or picnics. If you’ve ever experienced an outdoor event gone wrong – a party plagued with bad tuna salad, an evening spoiled by mosquitoes, or lovely umbrellas blown over by an unexpected wind – you’ll be happy to hear that you can avoid outdoor debacles with the help of these entertaining tips:

Plan for Adequate Seating

Will there be elderly people at your party who won’t want to stand for extended periods of time? What about extra guests who might tag along, or a gaggle of kids? Be sure to plan appropriate seating for everyone; it can be tough for anyone to stand around for too long, especially while holding plates and attempting to eat.

Prepare for Insects

Insects are a fact of life outdoors, but you can minimize their presence when you entertain. Considering spraying the area of your event with an insect repellant and lighting citronella candles. Don’t leave food on or near the ground, and cover food or seal it in plastic containers whenever it is not in use. One nice touch is to leave bottles or spray cans of insect repellant around the entertainment area so that guests who didn’t come prepared can apply repellant. If you don’t like using commercial repellants, eHow.com offers a number of home remedies for keeping mosquitoes away. Planting marigolds, rosemary, and catnip around your home is one suggestion, and pinning dryer sheets to your clothes is another.

Start up the Grill

If grilling is on the agenda, be sure your grill is fired up and ready to cook in time for the party. The same goes for fire pits or outdoor fireplaces. You don’t want to spend too much time starting and warming things up after the guests have arrived.

Consider food safety

Avoid serving foods such as eggs and mayonnaise that can spoil quickly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has posted extensive food safety information online. You can find information on everything from how to pack and transport food safely to the preparation of your picnic site and information on how to safely serve cold or hot foods outdoors.

Plan for Wind

If your outdoor entertainment area features table umbrellas, make sure they are secured safely with umbrella holders that can stand up to wind. Close umbrellas at the first sign that wind is becoming too strong for their use. Wind-resistant plate holders (like these offered on Amazon.com) will help keep paper plates in place. Use garbage bins with secure lids, and consider putting out rolls of paper towels or cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. If a gust of wind does cause some items to scatter, grab the kids and start a game that involves collecting stray items. You don’t want to leave litter outdoors!

Be Ready for Bad Weather

If you’re planning a large and important gathering, consider investing in some temporary cover such as pavilions, gazebos, or tents. There will be some expense involved, of course, but you’ll know that if the clouds open up over your gathering, guests will stay dry and you won’t have to suddenly hurry everyone indoors.

Be Prepared for Clean Up

Be sure you have enough garbage bags and bins, cleaning solution, cloths, and other items that will be necessary to clean up at the end of your event. If a friend or two offers to stay and help – let them (and return the favor the next time you’re invited to their house).

With a little preparation, you can avoid common outdoor disasters and host a fun outdoor event. Now, let the fun begin!