By Rebecca Fending
Summer is the season for celebrating with friends and family. The warm weather, fresh food and elongated daylight create the perfect storm for throwing a party or two. From barbecues to wine and cheese nights, hosting as never been so fun. Whether you’re looking to elevate your hosting abilities or simply want your guests to remember you for your entertainment skills, here are some tips on how to dazzle your party goers.
Keep Bugs Out of the Party
They may not have realized, but insects didn’t get an invite to the party. Nothing ruins a great outdoor party quite like being harassed by flies, bees or Florida’s infamous mosquitoes. To combat these unwanted guests, try your best to keep any open food covered with plastic wrap, lids or return trays to your refrigerator. This way any bugs won’t be attracted to your general area and your food stays fresh- a win win!
Other ways you can make sure that bugs keep out of your soirée is by planting or potting flowers that are known for their insect repellent properties. For example, marigolds are great to keep in your backyard because they tend to repel mosquitoes due to their pungent, but not unpleasant, scent. Not to mention their bright colors help brighten any outdoor space.
For many plant lovers, chrysanthemums are the holy grail when it comes to natural bug repellent. It deters bugs such as ants, beetles, ticks and roaches from the general area where it’s planted. The dried flowers act as a natural bug repellent as they create a compound known as pyrethrin. Many naturally derived insecticides available for purchase use this compound as the main active ingredient. Pyrethrin is safe enough to spray on living plants without damaging them. The compound specifically targets smaller insects that infect and decompose healthy plants.
Citronella candles, in addition to these plants, are also great as they add to the ambiance, smell great and keep insects far away. If you don’t have time to plant naturally insect repellent plants or hunt down citronella candles, it’s always a good idea to keep bug spray out for guests to use as the need arises.
Entertain for Every Taste
Possibly the most difficult part of entertaining is determining what foods to include in the snack spread. We all know the typical meat and cheese tray, veggie tray and fruit salad, but how do you make these just a bit more exciting?
One of the ways you can jazz up your food spread is by making shareable “food rings”. With these rings, you can customize them however you’d like depending on your guests’ preferences. From homemade biscuits or bread surrounding hot spinach artichoke dip or a fun twist on pizza dippers, these rings are perfect and low maintenance for entertaining.
While party rings are a fun and innovative way to feed company, it may not be perfect for people on special diets. With a resurgence in trendy diets like keto or low-carb for summer, traditional trays with meat, cheese and veggies are a great thing to have on hand, just in case. You can even step it up by creating your own meat and cheese rolls for guests, such as ham and swiss, turkey and colby jack and roast beef and cheddar.
Another simple but impressive component to the spread is homemade vegetable dip. In my experience, this works especially well with cucumbers, carrots and celery. It couldn’t be easier: just combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve! Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2/3 cup chive and onion cream cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon garlic powder (depending on your tastes)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
Be sure to include dessert in your spread, whether it be fresh fruit, a sundae bar or baked goods, there’s no better way to send guests home than with a well-rounded meal.
Even Adults Want Games
It’s true, no matter the person’s age, playing games is always the highlight of any get together. Regardless of whether you’re hosting outdoors or inside, be sure you have both kinds of games in case the party happens to move locations. Great games for indoors include any variation of poker games (you don’t have to bet money, you could always use packaged mints or any other smaller pieces lying around the house), board games such as Scrabble or Yahtzee and even charades (because who doesn’t like making a fool of themselves in good company?).
Outdoor games may be a bit more intensive when it comes to physical activity. Entertainment like lawn darts or ladder toss are great ways to be active and challenge your guests to a light competition. Bean bag toss (also known as “cornhole” in the South or “bags” in the Chicago area), is another great yard game, a true summer classic when it comes to entertaining family and guests.
No matter how you choose to entertain this summer, be sure to stay safe and have some fun in the sun.