By: Denile Doyle
Summer is in full swing, and so are backyard barbecues, outdoor cocktail parties and dinner parties. Here are some hacks that will streamline your outdoor party and simplify your host duties.
Set up a self-serve drink station
Move your indoor bar cart outside to use as a drink station. Use an old TV stand, office cart or even a small sturdy table will do the trick. Guests can serve themselves what they want and when they want, while you handle other important party things. Set pitchers of drinks on the cart, along with a cooler or tub full of individual cocktails in mason jars, so your guests can grab-and-go the first time and easily refill the second time. You’ll want to fill the tub with lots of ice to keep drinks cold and move your cart to a shady area. If your yard is lacking in the shade department, just put up a canopy tent over your cart and voilà!
Instead of running inside for refills and extras when things run out, create a refill basket or two with some of the essentials you know you’ll need to refill at some point. You can use a plastic tub or a basket for this and fill with things like paper plates, bowls, utensils, napkins, cleanup wipes, condiments, or whatever else you’ll probably need more of. You can camouflage your baskets under a table, or just stash is somewhere away from the central area where you guests won’t venture.
Plan ahead Planning ahead saves you time and money, so there’s really no reason not to start party prep in advance. You can buy things like decorations and essentials online at wholesale prices and spend less than you would if you went to the store. Then you’ll also have things on hand for your next gathering. Planning ahead also means you can look for cost-effective ways of doing things such as your food, drinks, invitations etc.
Label everything We would all love to avoid the mild irritation and distress after we lose track of our drink. Label drinks yourself or leave a sheet of labels and a Sharpie on your drink cart, so guests can label their own. Label your food with simple DIY labels like these. You can print labels or handwrite them, then attach to a toothpick or Popsicle stick and you’re ready to go. You can also use labels to distinguish foods and ingredients, such as medium burgers from well-done, vegetarian dip from non-vegetarian and gluten-free chips from the other guys.
Recruit a helper
No matter how much you prep and check things off your party to-do list, you’ll likely be a little crazed once the guests start arriving and feel like you’re being pulled in a hundred different directions. There’s only one you, so rather than give yourself anxiety because you forgot to bring something out or one of your guests asks for Dijon mustard or you need more of those crackers that apparently everyone loves, ask a friend to help you out with things so it’s not all on you. Your friend can grab the mustard while you change playlists.