(StatePoint) – Some of summer’s favorite moments happen right in your backyard: the sounds of children running around, the smells of fresh-cut grass and newly planted flowers, and the gathering of family and friends.
Here are a few simple tricks to make your next soi- ree the best one yet:
Your patio and backyard are an extension of your home, so don’t limit your creativity to indoors. Avoid harsh overhead lighting and create an inviting summer atmosphere by stringing paper lanterns or lightbulbs across your deck or around the railings.
While you want outdoor furniture to be stylish, you also want to make sure it provides comfort. Many outdoor furniture cushions are made from rough material, so consider bringing indoor cushions outside. You can always take them inside if a summer rain hits.
Rather than keeping an outdoor cooler sitting in the corner, consider making a DIY picnic table with cooler storage or building a wooden crate for your existing cooler. Create space and balance by utilizing the corners of your deck, as well, with an accent plant, side table or a rustic bar cart.
Keep Guests Full and Happy
Create a simple and refreshing summer appetizer and drink menu to keep guests con- tent. When you’re ready to get started on your menu, a high-performance blender, such as the Vitamix 780, is a must-have kitchen appliance. The sleek silhouette, touch-screen panel and low-profile container makes large batches quickly and clean-up easy.
Easily whip up a batch of smoothies for unexpected visitors. To make a cucumber melon smoothie, blend chunks of cucumber, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew for a delicious summer treat for both kids and adults.
For kids’ summer sleepovers, try an easy no-nut butter recipe – perfect for dipping apples and carrots and refueling after an intense backyard game of flag football. Simply blend sunflower, flaxseed and sesame seeds, and you won’t need to worry about any gluten or nut allergies.
For the perfect happy hour, incorporate refreshing pineapple into your menu and treat your guests to a summer combination of piña coladas and fruity avocado salsa.
Prep, Don’t Stress
By preparing for guests ahead of time, you’ll be relaxed and ready to entertain if a neighbor comes knocking on your door to chat. Keep a decorative, weatherproof crate or wooden bin with a secure lid on the edge of your deck. That way, kids can keep all of their toys in one place and clean them up quickly when guests arrive. You can even use multiple crates and have them handy for extra bench seating.
Create a grocery list so you’re not overwhelmed in the store. Dividing your list by appetizers, main courses and desserts will help you navigate. Make fresh produce last longer by storing it in the fridge rather than a fruit bowl, or by creating ready-to-use plastic bags of frozen fruits for your smoothies.
So, call up your family and friends and let the summer fun begin!