Thursday, May 23, 2013

Organizing: Tips to Consider for a Successful Summer Gathering

It’s that time of year when the weather gets nice, BBQs gathering happen, pool parties, and summer gatherings happen. In order to make your gathering a success, consider these tips:

Clean in pieces. As soon as you ask friends over, start cleaning a little each day. Thirty minutes at a time can have your house in top shape in time for guests.
Take inventory. Before you even send out the invites, see what you have and what you need for entertaining. Stock up on supplies to save the stress of running around at the last minute.

Finding fridge space. Cool drinks and food are essential for summer entertaining, but the fridge gets packed in a hurry. So use your washing machine. Fill it with ice, and stick your beverages in to cool quickly (about 30 minutes). The great thing is the ice melts and goes right down the drain – no mess.
Tap a “secret” source. Stock up on supplies. You can get a huge selection from Uline, or go to your local party store.

Exercise grill diligence. Gests are mingling, you’re ready to grill a platter of kabobs and oh no! you forgot to get propane. To avoid an embarrassing party, set aside an hour a few days before the party to make sure the grill is clean, the tank is full, and everything is in working condition.
Cater to comfort. Encourage your guests to linger and visit well into the summer evening. Have the essentials they might need on hand. Think blankets, s’mores supplies, sunscreen, and bug spray.
Build your stash. Invest in one entertaining upgrade each year. Start with a dozen white cotton napkins. It’s a great way to cut paper waste. Plus, fabric doesn’t ball up or stick to barbecue sauce.

Plan the pairings. Come up with three simple summer menus paired with cocktails then practice making them. The more comfortable you are with what you’re serving, the more relaxed you’ll be at party time.
Plan it easy. Work party prep into your week. Make your playlist during your lunch hour at work. Plan the food you’re going to serve during your commute. Make dishes one at a time throughout the week so by the time the weekend comes, you’re ready to go.

Ditch cleanup duty. To avoid feeling like you have to clean up instead of socialize, take a tip from pro catering companies: Set up a “sanitation station.” Pick an out-of-the-way-space, like the mudroom or garage. Set up a garbage can and some buckets with soapy water for dishes. Let them soak overnight, then clean them easily the next day.
Cut up tunes. Create three summer entertaining playlists: brunch, lunch, and dinner. Think upbeat.

Raise your spirits. Premixed cocktails are the way to go! They cut the fuss (you don’t feel obligated to keep mixing drinks) and your budget (you aren’t trying to stock a full bar).
Time it right. Summer weekends fill up fast, so we tuck parties into post-work corners of Friday nights and earlier-than-expected Sunday mornings.

Send less on linens. A bolt of burlap is my secret weapon. It’s super inexpensive. I use it for everything: cut-to-fit tablecloths, runners, draping, wrapping, and lining.
Call for backup. Last minute guests? Our local Mexican restaurant does large orders to go, which is a huge help when you are short on time.

Make it almost potluck. Sharing the food load is fine. Most people want, or even expect, to contribute to a meal. Ask your guests to bring something east, such as a watermelon, fresh bread, or ice cream. They’re helping, but not preparing.
Shine a light. Retro style camp lanterns come in dozens of colors. Plus, the lanterns use oil, so they won’t blow out in the summer breeze.

Let ‘em nibble. Have at least one appetizer ready for guests to nosh on when they arrive. A tasty bite covers many behind schedule sins.
Get a bargain. Off price retailers like T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls are a treasure trove of seasonal entertaining pieces. I love scavenging for drink dispensers, platters, cake stands, serving bowls, and candles.

 Article taken from Better Homes and Garden June 2013
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