How To Make People Think Martha Stewart Planned Your Outdoor Party

Want to throw a party that folks will be talking about for months to come?  Here are some tips that even Martha Stewart would be proud of.

Say “No” to flies: It’s not at all appetizing to have a big black fly land on a raw hamburger patty.  To keep them away use electric fans in all food prep and eating areas.  Put the table top models on the serving tables, behind the food, blowing out toward the line of guests.  Low speed works just fine and won’t interfere with buffet.  On especially hot days, it’s actually nice to stand in line, fill up your plate and feel a cool breeze.

Lighting:  Lighting is intimate and people instinctively migrate toward lighting, even out doors.  If your party will go into the evening consider wrapping Christmas lights around outdoor plants, such as boxwoods or crepe myrtles.  I like the clear, or white, lights.   The icicle lights that people hang below the roof lines at Christmas look nice draping a balcony or deck railings.

Group LED candles (super cheap and efficient) in multi level displays where guests will gather.  A citronella candle thrown in will help keep bugs away.  As a rule, I don’t like to use a lot of real candles outdoors because of the fire risk.  Guests could easily catch their hair or clothing on fire simply because they’re distracted.

Rope lights are great for outlining steps.  It’s pretty and practical, too.

Beverages: If you’re serving drinks in disposable cups have a Sharpie marker handy so guests can write their names on them.  This cuts down on waste and ensures that everyone knows which drink is theirs.

Keep plenty of ice in a cooler.  Break it up before guests arrive and have tongs or a cup in the cooler for picking up the ice.  This is also a good place to store lemon (for tea drinkers) or lime wedges.

Other stuff:

Make sure there are plenty of flat surfaces to set drinks, plates and utensils.  Bring tables from inside, out, if you must.  No one wants to have to balance everything on their laps.  Plan ahead and have a cloth runner or light weight table cloth in matching hues to cover the tables – this pulls the different types of furniture together, making it visually appealing.  Buy a sheet and make several square cloth covers out of it, hem the edges, and you have instant chic on a shoestring budget.

Make sure there’s plenty of activities for children.  A big tub of play sand and some pails and shovels will entertaine smaller kids for a long time.

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