As someone who does a LOT of cooking, it also assumed that we do a decent amount of entertaining. And I live in South Florida where it is always summer outside. So, I thought I would share some of my favorite ideas for channeling your inner Martha Stewart while also being on a budget and short on time!
- Keep The Menu Simple Enough that You Feel it is manageable! Try to pick a mix of things that can be made easily in advance, such as sides, etc to go with the meat or main course that will be grilled during the cookout.
- Designate someone to do all the grilling- You can’t be a good host and grill at the same time- trust me! Things will end up burned!
- Pre-make/slice your condiments if doing burgers/dogs/sandwiches, etc so you can just pull them out of the fridge when guests arrive.
- Have plenty of platters ready to go for pulling food off the grill.
- Have a few extra tongs ready for switch outs for grilling raw meat.
- Assemble an easy to understand flow for putting food together on a table/station: set up napkins, forks, knives and plates on one side and the food on the rest of the table, leading to dessert at the end.
- Save your craft beer six pack holders and use them as a handy way to store condiments like ketchup and mustard on the table.
- Create a separate, easy to get to station for wine/beer and drinks so guests can serve themselves (don’t be the martyr and leave it up to yourself to refill their drinks! ‘Aint nobody got time for that!)
- Keep a separate cooler just for ice.
- Keep bug repellent and sun screen in an easy to locate spot. I also like the citronella tiki torches for keeping the bugs at bay.
- Use something you already have to guide your color scheme. For example, use the colors from a piece of outdoor art as your color palette, an accent pillow with your outdoor furniture, or something else that provides visual inspiration. This way, you can accentuate something that you already have and don’t work against it with a non-complimentary color scheme. For Hunter’s first birthday party, we hosted an outdoor pool party and cookout and I used our patio furniture as the accent color to build on our rubber duck theme. From here I had a custom banner made on Etsy using these colors that tied it all together…
- Build on your color scheme to choose napkins, table clothes, decorations.
- Pick surrounding greenery to accentuate the tables/food line up… For example, if there is a flower or shrub in season, use it as inspiration for tablescaping! Living in South Florida, I always use some sort of greenery or palm frond for tablescaping!
- Choose an accent piece for your table. It can be a vase of flowers, a cool platter or bowl or even a hurricane glass filled with mardigras beads for example. Use what you have and repurpose in cool ways with tea lights, greenery or even tiki lights placed on the table.. have fun with it!
- Use 2 day shipping (via Amazon Prime) to your advantage! Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
I personally couldn’t imagine life without 2 free day shipping. I haven’t found better prices for silly party (like the rubber ducks I put in the pool, and had hanging around everywhere at the party) favors than at Amazon. Trust me, it beats trips to party city.
- Use your local dollar store for balloons. Many people don’t realize that they can blow up balloons for you and there are a lot of dollar trees out there! Their balloons are $1 versus going to party city where they will charge you at least $5.00 for a mylar balloon! Boo!
- Use stores like Etsy for an inspirational party “pieces” such as a banner, cupcake toppers, etc. I had the cutest banner custom designed by BridesWivesandBabes on Esty for under $20. Only someone who doesn’t sleep a lot or has a prescription to Ridalin actually has time to make these things themselves (again, don’t be a martyr- outsource!!)
- Give out interactive party favors! I gave out these fun temporary tattoos for our pool party theme, and these patriotic temporary tattoos would be PERFECT for 4th of July or any major grilling holiday. Beer koozies are another fun party favor that people can take home with them.
- Use pinterest for inspiration but don’t let it make you feel like a failure if it is not “pinterest perfect”. Those people spent time on food styling and perfect lighting. Life is messy! Those photos you see are not real life.
- And the last but not least: DON’T RUN OUT OF WINE! I love a nice rose for hot summer days. It appeals to people who like red or white. It’s like the person at the party who gets along with everyone!
Do you have no-fail tips for hosting great parties or entertaining? Please share in the comment box below!!