One of the reasons I love spring and summer so much is that having people over feels even more festive outdoors. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to a pig roast every summer for Memorial Day. There was never enough seating to go around so they just cut stumps from a fallen tree that people would move around and sit on. There’s something more relaxed about an outdoor party that makes hosting even more fun-- plus if the weather is super-hot your guests will be happy with little bites and crudités.
My go-to outdoor recipes for small groups include Steak Salad, Mango Chicken Salad and Curried Rice Salad. Serving dishes like steak or rice salad at room temperature means they can be made up before hand (unlike, say, grilling hamburgers, etc.) If I’m having a larger group I go with something like a bruschetta bar, barbecue or tacos. This allows people to serve themselves and all I have to do is set it up.
I use a tray or basket to transport everything outside and keep it under the table. This makes for easier and fewer trips and as I don’t need things throughout the party I’ll just toss back in there for simple cleanup when my guests are gone. For a bigger gathering, I’ll use compostable dishware and silverware that can be discarded in the compost bin at the end of the night.
If you’re hosting in the evening take advantage of upping the ambiance with some outdoor lighting. I found these a couple years ago and we don’t even take them down in the winter – they stand the test of time and have a beautiful yellow light.
One major pest to deal with besides the heat during outdoor entertaining is bugs. Here in Brooklyn we usually get some mosquitos during July and August when it’s really hot. I hate bug spray and frankly the smell of citronella (although it is very effective for getting rid of mosquitos) so what I do is plant a ton of lavender and basil in my vegetable planters. I love the smell and I can eat basil with every meal so it’s really a win-win. My family also loves these lavender cookies I make. If the basil and lavender aren’t doing the trick you can also bring a fan outside to blow away the mosquitos (works great for bees too). If you like citronella but don’t want to buy the synthetic kind there’s a great candle recipe here.
For more ideas, check out Living with Pattern. You'll also find instructions for making the blanket above.
I’d love to hear your outdoor entertaining tips! Leave them below.