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Outdoor Entertaining Made Easy

Outdoor Entertaining Made EasyAs soon as the warm weather hits, party lovers thoughts turn to the great outdoors. Great for entertaining that is. Whether your "outdoors" is a patio, a landscaped garden or a simple backyard, the lure of garden parties is hard to resist.

If your green thumb turns to all thumbs when it comes to organizing parties, you may be trying hard to figure out a way to show off that gorgeous garden you've been working so hard on. If the thought of having friends over for a party turns your blood cold... warm up to the idea with these hints from Karen Duffy, spokesperson for Authentic Cuervo Margaritas and author of the cookbook, "A Slob in the Kitchen."

"I love to entertain, but I also know how intimidating it can be for a host," says Duffy. "One of the most important things to remember is that your friends are coming over to spend time with you, so having the time to enjoy their company is a priority. I like to keep things creative, but simple, so I have the time to appreciate my own party."

She offers these tips to alleviate the stress associated with hosting an outdoor party.

Make it easy with self serve meals

Minimal hostess involvement, maximum guest enjoyment, and a main-course summer salad make for a lovely party. Consider laying out chopped salads, grilled vegetables, grated cheese, marinated tomatoes, cucumber salad, various herbed oils -- things that can be made well in advance affording you more time to spend with your guests. Serve an olive oil foccacia bread from the grill and let your guests slather, sprinkle and top their own meal. Another cool meal idea that uses the same principle... tacos! Set out the fixings and let your guests be creative.

Keep your salads fresh and covered

Hot nights are lethal to crisp green things. To keep a salad fresh, nest the bowl in another bowl of well-salted ice and toss the salad occasionally to keep it cool. Keep a top on the open food to save the food from unwanted flying visitors!

Setting the Table

Centerpieces can liven up any table -- there are so many flowers, vivid greens, even herbs this time of year. Use buckets or pails and fill them with a wild array. Put stones in the bottom of the pail to prevent them from tipping over in the wind. If you garden includes potted plants you can arrange a group of them to decorate your table and show off your garden at the same time!

No mess, no fuss Margaritas

margarita cocktailsMake your party more memorable with a signature drink. Margaritas and summer go hand-in-hand, they taste great, they're always fun, but sometimes they can be a challenge to make. Make it easy with ready-to-drink margaritas with a pre-measured amount of tequila already in it. All you have to do is twist the bottle open, pour over ice, garnish with a lime and you're good to go with a consistent drink every time. No mess, no fuss, no hassle!

Otherwise, bring out the cooler and provide guests with bottles of light wines perfect for outdoor entertaining including sparkling wines for a refreshing "kick" out in the noon day sun.

Safety first

It's up to you to make safety your top priority. Be aware that summer heat can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion and alcohol tends to speed up these reactions.

Provide your guests with refuge from the sun with colorful umbrellas, an array of spray bottle fans and seating in shaded areas. Have plenty of cool drinks available -- make sure there are both alcohol and virgin options so your guests can switch if they want or need to and keep a taxi service number at hand in case one of your guests has too much to drink. You want your loved ones around for the next party!

Also be ready for the inconveniences of nature. Nothing is less entertaining than a bug bite, sunburn, splinters or a scraped knee. Stock a first-aid kit with bug repellent, sunscreen, band-aids, hydrogen peroxide and other remedies for minor ailments. Keep it on hand in case you need it. Taking these precautions will ensure that you and your guests will be able to fiesta like there's no mañana.

Clean-up duty

Many stores offer really nice paper or plastic plates with plastic ware that matches for an elegant presentation. To avoid hours of post-party cleanup and dish patrol, stock up on these as well as plastic glasses and cups -- this will also prevent injuries due to broken glass. Also, strategically place receptacles throughout your entertaining area so guests can dispose of their trash during the party and save you some valuable time. If you recycle, make sure that you provide separate bins for cans and "regular" trash.

If you follow these simple tips, your adventures in outdoor entertaining can be a piece of cake...a walk in the park... you get the idea. Relax, invite your friends, fix a cool drink, enjoy the fresh air and bring on the fun.

Source: ARA Content

More outdoor party ideas around the Web:

Martha Stewart - Outdoor Party Ideas

Backyard Patio Party Ideas

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