The first unofficial long weekend of summer just passed, and there are less than 30 days remaining in our school year. For us, this means it's almost time for lots of outdoor entertaining and I'm prepared for the many meals I plan on serving al fresco. In addition to casual weekend gatherings and get togethers with friends, we're hosting a graduation dinner next month, our annual Canada Day party in July, a bridal shower is penciled onto the calendar for August, and it wouldn't be summer without another round of cousin's camp in the middle of it all.
Here's how I'm getting ready for the gatherings I'm excited about this year:
- The grill is all set to go. Rob has stocked up on charcoal and I've been hoarding newsprint for months in order to have a large supply ready for my beloved charcoal chimney.
- I've dusted off my water dispenser and plan on filling it up every weekend, keeping it close for those who are thirsty. How do I keep H2O interesting in the warm-weather months? Here are 68 ways to naturally flavour your water.
- Speaking of drinks, I like to keep it simple when we have people over and I streamline my offerings to four things: wine, beer, water (sparkling and flat), and a signature cocktail for each event. The always popular Pimm's Cup is a favourite for the spring, and you can never go wrong with sangria (stay tuned for a tasty recipe coming your way next week).
- I've replaced the broken bulbs in my outdoor twinkle lights and look forward to hanging them in the coming days. They add a nice glow to those late nights outside after the sun eventually sets.
- Linen napkins are must-have in my book, and we use them every night at dinner. Having said that, I'm certainly not taking my matching clean cloths outdoors for barbecues and backyard eating. Instead, I picked up 20 white and blue cotton tea towels from Ikea (sold in packs of four for $4). These wash well and are perfect for sponging saucy faces.
- Arming myself with a few simple desserts is key when it comes to feeding my friends. Who wants to spend hours standing stoveside when you can be outdoors with your guests. This s'mores sheet cake is always popular at parties, and you can never go wrong with a buckle, cobbler, crisp, or slump.
- Lastly, everyone overlooks ice, but it's essential for keeping drinks cool and I estimate about one pound per person for chilling and serving purposes. I don't have an ice machine built into my fridge but I keep ice cube trays full in the freezer at all times, and when it comes to the larger get-togethers I can always pick up a 40lb. bag from my local party supply store if needed.
Do you have any fun gatherings planned for the coming months? What's in your warm-weather entertaining arsenal?