Vaccines are being rolled out across the United States, masks are no longer required for fully vaccinated people, and the world is opening up once again. For those who did their part in mask-wearing, social distancing, and proper hand-washing, now may be the best time to reunite with family and friends who are also fully vaccinated. And with the warmer months on the horizon, there is no better time than now than to throw an unforgettable summer dinner party in the yard.
Now that the world is opening up, now may be a good time to hold in-person parties again. Here are some key tips for throwing the perfect summer dinner party.
Spruce up the yard
How your venue is styled is half the battle. Here are some tips for sprucing up your yard for the summer dinner party:
- If you did some work on the yard during the pandemic or extended your outdoor and indoor living areas, you have already done half the work. If not, consider hiring some experts to improve the integrity and look of your porch, patio, or deck.
- Now is the best time to improve your landscaping by adding some more greenery and planting some flowers. Not only is gardening good for your overall health, but it’s also helpful to the environment.
- Invest in plush sofas and throws, and incorporate some tables and chairs. Some string lights will also help in setting a romantic and whimsical feel in your yard. You can also do a classic picnic so that you and your guests can enjoy your freshly mowed grass.
- Add some flowers as a centerpiece. Go to the farmers’ market for some seasonal florals; you don’t even need to buy the most expensive ones. How you style them will influence how your tables will look and feel.
- Light some candles and put on your favorite summer playlist.
- Consider the temperature as well; consider renting a portable air conditioner to ensure that the temperature is not just bearable, but comfortable.
- Whatever atmosphere you choose to go for, make sure that your yard is 100 percent ready to accommodate people. Check how many people your space can accommodate before sending out an invitation. Make sure everyone has somewhere comfortable to sit during dinner.
Be strategic about the menu
If you’re not hiring a catering service, it’s important to be strategic about your menu so that you’re not overwhelmed on the day. Here are some pointers to remember when planning the courses:
- For a stress-free day, opt for a menu that will allow you to prepare and cook in the morning or the afternoon. The best part about summer is that you can get away with room-temperature food, which means you can get more done ahead of time. Some examples include grilled proteins like shellfish and chicken, which can be paired with grain salads and grilled vegetables. You can save more time by marinating the protein the night before, making it ready for cooking the next day.
- Keep the drinks clean and light. Don’t go for sugary sweet cocktails, especially if you know your guests are more on the health-conscious side. Stick to all-natural wines with lower alcohol content, especially if people are also driving home. Whatever your guests are drinking, make sure it won’t cause them to have a hangover the next morning.
- If you’re planning on grilling the food before serving, consider asking for the help of a family member or friend who loves grilling and has a knack for it. You don’t need to take on the challenge yourself, especially if you’re not the best griller. Find someone who enjoys doing it so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them or you.
No matter how small your guest list is, you will benefit from doing some early prep. Get all your shopping, cleaning, and prepping in advance so that you’re not frantic on the day of the party. Set up an alarm 30 minutes before the guests are expected to arrive so that you’re not panicking when they’re in the front door. Consider drinking a light cocktail beforehand so that you’re a little more relaxed when the guests arrive. But don’t get drunk!
Last but not least, don’t aim for perfection and don’t apologize when you don’t achieve it. Parties and reunions are supposed to be fun and lighthearted; they’re not about having to prove yourself. Treasure this moment with your friends and family, and don’t let the stress of party planning get in the way of your enjoyment. Cheers!