Even though temperatures in many parts of the country are still hovering around the ninety-degree mark (as they have been for the past several weeks), the inevitable end of summer is just around the corner.
Chances are, you’ve partaken in your fair share of concerts, festivals and backyard pool parties this season. While it’s always nice to be a participant or guest at such events, there’s nothing quite as special – or as memorable – as hosting an outdoor gathering of your own.
These late days of summer and the coming early days of fall are perfect for entertaining in the garden. So whether you’re returning the hospitality or simply looking for an excuse to spend the last of these long, lazy days enjoying the weather, entertaining alfresco is a must before the end of the season.
One of the key factors in hosting a successful outdoor gathering is creating a comfortable seating area. Make sure that your patio furniture can accommodate the number of guests you’re planning to invite. If it seems like it may be a tight squeeze, place an additional outdoor table and chairs nearby to create a cozy enclave. Cushions for patio furniture come in many colors and patterns to complement any type of outdoor style scheme, so don’t be afraid to mix and match to add a festive, summery touch. You may also want to have several folding chairs on hand for unexpected additional guests who join the party. To maximize everyone’s comfort, consider utilizing an umbrella, which not only provides shade during a bright summer afternoon but also helps define your alfresco dining area.
Serving food and beverages should be casual and easy – set up a buffet-style assortment on a picnic table so guests can help themselves. Keep the menu simple and elegant with salads, fresh fruit and various easy-to-assemble side dishes. Place colorful napkins in small stacks at each corner of the table, and large plastic mugs or glasses containing inexpensive silverware near the center. If your backyard allows, you can also arrange smaller tables and chairs in separate areas for drinks or dessert.
For your table centerpiece(s), arrange fresh flowers or the blooms from ornamental grasses from your garden in small decorative pots or even in a serving pitcher. If you decide to cook outdoors, position the grill so that smoke blows away from where your guests are congregating. Bring your everyday kitchen cart outside for easy access to cooking utensils, serving dishes, etc.
If the day’s festivities last into the evening, having the proper outdoor lighting will help set an inviting, intimate mood. Try threading strands of small, clear lights through trees, shrubs and fences for a festive look. Tiki torches and deck lights are a great addition to your patio area, while overhead floodlights provide safety for guests as they head out to their vehicles.
Be prepared for the cooler evenings by setting the mood and warming things up with an elegant fire pit or outdoor fireplace. Another way to fend off the cold is to bring out the patio heaters as they can help you extend your outdoor entertaining even longer into fall.
Visit homedepot.com for more products to help you host a perfect alfresco celebration and enjoy the last fun-filled days of summer and celebrate the beginning of a beautiful autumn!