Low-stress tips for outdoor entertaining

A great outdoor party can quickly go south if you're not prepared for Mother Nature's tricks. If your summer plans include sharing food and good times outdoors with family and friends, a little preparation can go a long way. These simple tips will help you enjoy the warm days and cool nights of summer - and help you create an alfresco affair to remember.

Get ready, get set
Parties - especially outdoor get-togethers in the summer - are meant for relaxing and having fun. This isn't the time for stressing over every little detail.

Do as much work ahead as possible - prepare enough food to accommodate your guests and any surprise extras they may bring along. Don't feel like your decorations or settings need to be elaborate. Your guests will be more focused on good food and good times than whether your porch needs a new coat of paint, or whether your napkins and tablecloth match.

Simple details like candles, glass jars with flowers, and a string of mini lights or hanging lanterns can provide a festive air without adding stress to your day.

Don't get bugged
Mosquitoes, bees, and other pests can quickly ruin a perfectly planned party. To keep your gathering bug-free, start with some prevention: eliminate common insect gathering points, such as standing water, and keep your lawn trimmed.

At your party, you can try a number of tactics to keep guests comfortable:

  • Don't decorate with sweet-smelling flowers (like peonies or lilies) and keep a lid on sugary drinks to help avoid attracting bees
  • Do decorate with candles or tiki torches using bug-repelling citronella or geraniol
  • Hang a modern, attractive bug-zapping lantern
  • Use fans around your party site to literally blow bugs away - and provide a cool breeze for your guests
  • Set a bowl of sugar water just outside the party perimeter to draw pests off-site
  • Offer a selection of insect repellent options for your guests, from standard chemical sprays to essential oils, wipes, and repellent bracelets

Watch the weather
You can't control the weather, but you can prepare for possibilities. For instance, clear a table indoors so you're ready to relocate festivities under shelter in case of a sudden downpour.

To handle the heat of a summer day, have plenty of iced drinks on hand, bearing in mind the ages and preferences of your guests. Provide shelter, too. That could mean seating under shaded trees, a covered patio, umbrellas, or a canopy tent. You can also set out hand-held fans for personal "air conditioning."

For a cloudy day or a cool evening, keep some light throw blankets, or even a few spare sweaters or jackets handy. Consider an outdoor heater for your deck. Or set up a fire pit - great for keeping warm and toasting marshmallows!

Remember, the point of the party is getting good friends together to enjoy each other's company. Stay focused on that goal, and your gathering is sure to be a summer smash!

If you want to go big with your party prep by revamping your landscaping, building a deck, or adding a gazebo, Westfield Bank can help with any financing needs. Visit a banker at your local branch or call 800.368.8930 for a personal discussion of your options today.