With summer just around the corner, it’s time to invite your friends and family over and fire up the grill! There’s not much better than spending quality time with the ones you love, unless it includes warm weather, cold drinks and great food, too! We’ve put together some of our top tips and considerations for hosting a successful outdoor get together for all to enjoy!
Pay attention to the details
One of the key ways to ensure everyone has a great time is to pay attention to the details. Making sure that there’s enough seating for everyone and providing a comfortable and inviting outdoor environment allows everyone to relax and enjoy the time together. Finishing it off with a coordinating menu, from starters, entrees and beverages, to desserts, always adds a nice touch!
Want to really step it up a notch? Consider using décor to help reinforce the overall aesthetic or ambiance you’re going for. For example, for a tropical themed event, break out the tiki torches and string lights to set the mood. Serve up some Mai Tais, Piña Coladas and coconut water, and fill those food cravings with starters of tropical bruschetta and coconut shrimp bites, followed by Mahi Mahi kebabs with grilled pineapple and bell peppers. Don’t forget the tropical fruit salad and Pacific Coast cole slaw on the side, and coconut crème pie for dessert! Everyone will appreciate the reprieve of having a taste of the islands!
It’s important to have a well thought out menu for your event, specifically keeping in mind your overall vision for the evening, as well as the needs of your guests. The size of your party can also impact your menu, as you may be able to accommodate a more intricate menu for smaller groups, and want a simpler but more expansive menu for a larger crowd to please the masses. Either way, you’ll want to make sure to offer a variety of foods, from simple stationary appetizers, to possibly some hors d’oeuvres, as well as your entrée(s), dessert(s), and any specialty drinks you want to include! Be sure to offer safe options for your loved ones with any dietary preferences or restrictions, so they can enjoy the evening without worrying, too!
Something for everyone
Another sure way to keep everyone satisfied and your stress levels down while entertaining is to have some refreshments for guests to enjoy from the get go. Whether you’re planning a multicourse meal with several hors d’oeuvres, or a simple barbecue, offering some stationary munchies is an easy way to help tide everyone over until all guests arrive and it’s time to eat. Some ideas range from an elaborate charcuterie board or fruit and cheese plate, to chips and dips, or crudité with dressings and hummus. Similarly, providing a variety of beverages and making sure everyone has something to drink as they settle in can help them to get comfortable and enjoy the party!
Kid friendly entertainment
If children are included in your event, you’ll want to have a game plan to keep them entertained! Depending on the ages of the kids, incorporating yard games, bubbles, table games and/or a craft station are great ways to keep them busy and having fun, which is a win for their parents, too! Additionally, offering kid friendly foods either as part of the overall menu, or a special menu just for them depending on your preference, can help to make the evening go seamlessly for everyone!
Set yourself up for success
Finally, when it comes to hosting an event, possibly the most important thing you can do to set yourself up for success it to plan. Whether that means having a written plan for menu timeline, décor, seating chart, or simply making mental notes of any last minute equipment or serving ware you need, staying organized will help to make sure the day goes smoothly. Try to set up as much as you can beforehand, even if that means your decorations are out for an extra day or two, and your dinner table is set first thing in the morning… You’ll be glad you did it later! For outdoor events, make sure you have a comfortable back up plan in case the weather isn’t in your favor. Finally, prep as many of the menu items as you can beforehand, so that you aren’t in the kitchen while your guests are outside, and you can enjoy your time with them!
Michael Evans is chef-owner of Helga’s Caterers, a family-owned, full-service catering company with over 35 years of experience in providing fine food and excellent service for all of your catering needs throughout the D.C. Metro Area.