Let’s get started. First and foremost, we have found that if you are entertaining for 6, it is just as easy to expand your guest list to 10 or 12.
Also, think about a double night of entertaining. My in-laws have an annual cocktail party for 20 on Friday night because of limited space followed by another cocktail party with a different group on Saturday. Or, if you have two clearly defined groups of friends, my sister has a “work” party followed by a “friend” party. You’ve done the prep work and this way you can maximize your time and effort.
Take Time to Prep Your Outdoor Area
- Clean your grill.
- Take care of patio furniture. Best to wash with a solution of ½ cup dish soap, 1 cup vinegar and 2 gallons water. Take a gentle, non-abrasive sponge and lightly clean. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes before rinsing.
- Clean teak furniture. Use a soft bristle brush and warm soapy water along with a general teak cleaner. We recently did this with our teak furniture and it was amazing how the grime and lichen disappeared.
- Clean glass table with solution of 50% vinegar and 50% distilled water and newspapers.
- If bugs are an issue, buy organic mosquito fogger to pre-treat your lawn and shrubs around the perimeter of your entertaining area. Our favorite is EcoSmart Organic insecticide. Do this well before set up.
Beyond the Food….Add to Your Shopping List
- Citronella or torches to add ambience. Or consider miniature white lights to string.
- Buy or cut fresh flowers for centerpieces. Coordinate color scheme with your plates and tablecloths.
- Paper or plastic plates and utensils, paper napkins. Who wants to bring their good china out to the deck or patio?
- Charcoal if needed.
- Bug spray in case needed.
- Skewers for smores if you are doing a fire pit.
- Sometimes, the best presentations can be with items you already have. Take note of your wicker baskets, kids beach buckets etc. to create a theme.
- Cooler or galvanized metal basket for ice and drinks.
- Trays for condiments, hors d’oeuvres, or glasses.
- Bar: lemons, limes, olives, different glasses according to what you are serving. Or, make it easy with just wine and beer (remember to have multiple bottle openers.
- Garbage Cans: well – labeled; one for recycle and one for trash.
- Fresh hand-towels in bathroom and new soap.
- Clean dishwasher out before guests arrive.
- Get out your CD’s.
- Are you having assigned seating? Need place cards?
- A little over the top but if you are on a roll, consider labeling cheese and beverages with ornamental tags.
- Know your ingredients in case of any food allergies.
- Consider using lazy susan if placing condiments and dressings in the center of the table.
- Open red wine if serving so it can breathe. Cool white wine.
- Extra fleece for guests in case it gets cold or pashmina wraps.
- Wood for fire pit?
- Think creatively and take time to think about presentation.
Remember the Weekly Chores
- And, of course, the mundane weekly chores such as mowing your lawn and weed whacking should not be forgotten!
While we admit entertaining takes a lot of work, planning ensures you will enjoy the evening as much as your guests will!