With summer in full swing, people are looking for every opportunity they can to spend more time outside. And what’s the perfect thing to do outside on a hot summer night (or anytime, for that matter)?
Eat. Eat lots.
So we thought we’d do you a solid and give you five crucial (no, really) tips for preparing and executing the perfect outdoor meal. Buon appetite!
1. Fight the urge to light scented candles.
I know, I know. “But they set the ambiance!” “But it’s a bug repellant!” Too bad. The only thing worse than having a heavily scented candle smack in the middle of your dinner table at a restaurant, is having a citronella-scented candle right next to you at the dinner table outside. Instead, make a dish full of garlic (like spaghetti) as some say it’s mosquito repellant. Or try placing sage and rosemary right on the grill while you cook – not only will you keep the critters away, but your dinner party will smell delish.
2. Don’t forget the music.
Just because you’re enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t mean you should skimp on the tunes. (You never realize how much music does to fill an awkward silence until the music’s not there.) So put a little thought into your playlist: Who are the guests and what do they like? What’s the vibe I want to create for the meal? When friends hit you up beforehand asking if they can bring anything, you might even consider delegating out the playlist to a very musically savvy guest. They’ll be flattered you trusted them!
Consider delegating the playlist to a very musically savvy guest. They’ll be flattered you trusted them!
3. Invest in an ice bucket or cooler.
Sure, your guests can go inside to fetch themselves a drink from your fridge. But do you really want them to have to? Keep everyone around the food (where they really want to be) by placing a large tub filled with ice, beer, and wine near the table. Plus, it makes a world of difference in creating a homey ambiance for the meal.
4. Do a sit-test.
Have you actually ever sat in those wrought-iron bistro chairs that you thought were just too cute to pass up? Or that rock hard picnic table bench? The majority of outdoor dining seating is uncomfortable, if not downright painful. If you DID already shell out for a seat of steel, never fear: Grab a few mismatched throw pillows and place them on the seats before the guests arrive. Your table will look eclectic-chic and your guests’ bottoms will be happy.
Your guests will thank you for comfortable seat cushions.
5. Use brown craft paper for a tablecloth.
Trust me, you’ll have plenty to clean up the next morning. Clean one less thing by laying large sheets of brown craft paper across the table: It’ll create a rustic, homey look for your table setting and will save you the time of having to clean crumbs and spills off the table later.