It's that time of year! Especially around Wilmington - no one wants to stay in doors. It's to the decks and docks, for all the outdoor entertainment we can fit in to summer nights (and days). Here are some tips to make your next gathering one to remember!
1. Start with music - this always puts you in a great mood during set up too! iPod speakers are the perfect way to do this. (You can find some steals at TJ Maxx and on Craigslist if you don't already have some. Your smartphone should be able to plug up to them also through the headphone jack if you don't have an ipod.)
2. Add splashes of color. Bright pillows, patterened or solid are a sure fire way to do this. (Struggling to find some at your house? Check out World Market and Home Goods for great, affordable selections)
3. Light it up! Lanterns of all shapes and sizes, sitting or hung will set the mood for your guests. You can also string lights in trees or plants. (Paper lanterns are easiest to hang. If you're worried about using candles, invest in the flameless variety. They are battery operated but still look nice.)
4. Make sure to have plenty of seating. Utilize benches, adirondacks, outdoor dining areas... anything you can find. Floor pillows could even be used. Pull them together in groups. You can have some on the deck, in the yard... wherever! You want to make it easy for everyone to sit, relax, and have great conversations. Don't forget tables - people need somewhere to set their drinks and food. (Have you been meaning to get more seating? Home Depot and World Market have a pretty good selection and several on sale right now.)
5. Start a fire. I do mean this literally, just keep it contained in a fire pit or chimnea. There's just something about fires that bring people together and make the night seem to go on forever. (No need to make it too big... just something small that burns throughout the event is nice.)
6. Trays will be your guests best friend. Keep several trays out with drinks and appetizers... your guests will love you for it. You can always have them fix their own, but if you want a night to be remembered, you will totally impress them if they find another waiting for them on a nearby tray when they take the last sip of what's in their hand.
7. Don't let pests be guests too. Especially in our area - there's nothing like the bugs to ruin an outdoor gathering. Make sure you have a smell free bug spray at the door for your guests and citronella out. (I personally like to use OFF! Skintastic - Clean Feel. It doesn't smell or feel like bug spray, but it works.)
8. If you don't have time, and want someone else to do the planning and decor... Call our friends at Design Perfection! They can help you throw the most fabulous outdoor dinner party on the coast!
Have fun at your next gathering!