Summer means outdoor parties! Check out these tips to help you set the scene for the perfect outdoor party…

Prep The Yard (And Your Home!) ­– Make sure your yard is looking its best! Mow the lawn, trim the bushes and clean up any yard waste lying around. Remember to clean inside as well. Your guests will be entering the house to use the washroom or to cool off and, if it rains, be prepared to move the party indoors.

Light It Up – Create ambience with torches, hanging lights, or outdoor candles. Make sure that walkways, steps, and obstructions are visible. Let your lighting do double duty: consider using citronella candles or torches to keep the mosquitos away.

Focus on Food – Outdoor summer parties can have some really fun food! Remember to take individual diets into consideration when preparing the menu. If you will be cooking while entertaining, try to do most of the food prep in advance to make it easy on yourself while you socialize with your guests. If you are entertaining during the daytime and the temperature is hot, consider serving food that will stay fresh in the heat and also keep your guests cool. Stay away from overly spicy foods and have bite sized, chilled fruits available.

Summer Drinks – Serve drinks that will be refreshing and delicious for your guests (alcoholic or otherwise). There are several different sangria and punch recipes that you can easily find online. Use decorative buckets as coolers, load them with ice and add drinks for guests to help themselves. If it is going to be hot keep lots of bottled water and other non-alcoholic beverages on hand.

Decorate! –Create a happy vibe with bright colors such as linens and serving pieces with cheery tones. Use mini bouquets of trimmings from your garden as center pieces.

Create Ample Seating – Although you may have only one or two tables set up, you can create extra casual seating throughout your outdoor space. Consider laying out blankets with oversized pillows or putting up a hammock or loungers for your guests to relax in.

Get the Party Started with Music – Create a playlist that will set the tone of the evening. Maybe you are playing around with a theme? Spanish music for sangria and tacos, country music for a BBQ and beer night or music from your youth when reuniting with old friends. Whatever you choose, the music will help set the mood for the evening. Make sure to keep electronics and speakers protected in case it suddenly rains!

Have Fun! – Being the host, it can be easy to get caught up in the organizing and the “doing” and forget to mingle and have fun! Prepare ahead of time as much as possible so you can join your guests when they arrive.

Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure all your guests get home safe. If possible, prepare a bed for guests who may decide to stay over, and call cabs for any guests who have been drinking and need to get home. Enjoy the party!