In the world of Pinterest and coordinating everything, it can be easy to get hung up on the idea of a picture-perfect outdoor summer party. We give you permission to forget all that. This summer, we encourage you to think: more fun, less stress.
There are plenty of simple ways to set up your outdoor dining area, BBQ a memorable meal, and serve cooling drinks without expending a lot of effort or money — so you actually have time to enjoy your own party (a novel idea, right?).
Follow these simple tips from Kenmore to throw together a memorable summer party, minus the stress.
Setting your summer table
If your party plans include getting started before the sun sets, make sure your guests have a shady spot to cool off. Work with what you have: Shade from trees, an umbrella, or your house works just fine. Build your entertaining and outdoor dining space out from the shade, and make sure it’s near your BBQ area so you can socialize while you grill.
Get that nighttime glow
Have a plan for lighting once the sun sinks below the horizon. Think ease: Mason jars with tea lights or strings of old holiday lights create a festive sparkle without breaking the bank. Put them out ahead of time, and all you have to do is light a match or flick a switch.
Be casual about seating
Sure, you might set up a table and chairs, but outdoor entertaining is all about casual. Don’t be afraid to bring indoor seats outside, spread blankets and pillows across the grass, and work with what you have to create a homey outdoor space.
Keep table prep minimal
No time (or energy) to scrub your tables? Cover them in kraft paper and include crayons or markers for kids and creatives to doodle with.
Don’t want to spend a fortune at the florist? Walk around your yard with scissors and plop blooms and simple greenery into an old coffee can, glass pasta jar, or whatever you have on hand.
Resist the temptation to use throwaway cutlery, dishware, and cups. Instead, use your everyday dishes and rely on your clean-anything dishwasher to do the dirty work. Bonus: You get to feel good about keeping things out of a landfill.
Carve out a space for fun
Whether your party includes kids or just the young at heart, set up a few spaces with outdoor games. Think: giant Jenga, cornhole, bocce, or a Frisbee or two. If your group is more sedate, consider leaving a few decks of cards about — Uno, Exploding Kittens, or a regular old deck works fine.
Grilling for easy eats
Work that grill
There are a million reasons to center your summer party outdoors, from keeping your carpet clean to enjoying the beauty of a dinner beneath the stars with friends and family.
No matter your reason for celebrating summer with an outdoor party, using your gas or charcoal grill has some real benefits: Your kitchen stays clean and cool, and it couldn’t be easier to turn out tasty food with minimal effort.
Just skewer it
Grilling kebabs is a painless way to grill dinner fast and look like a pro doing it. Simply marinate your meat, skewer it, barbecue it on the grill for a few minutes, and serve. Try a simple recipe for spicy skirt steak skewers or grilled chicken skewers with lemons and salsa verde. Marinate and prep in advance to leave ample time for chilling with your guests.
Think beyond meats and skewer up some vegetables to grill: Onions, peppers, squash, and mushrooms all grill quickly. Just skewer whatever you have on hand, brush or spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and give them a minute or two on the cooler side of your grill.
Take that spearing spirit to cool foods as well. Watermelon, strawberries, cheese, cantaloupe, and more (get creative!) all look nice lined up on wooden skewers and offer a utensil-free serving option. It’s uncomplicated outdoor dining at its best.
Prep those snacks
No need to overdo the hors d’oeuvres. Keep it hassle-free with something you can make ahead of time, like this easy snack mix, which is way better than anything you can pull out of a bag!
Or try these cinnamon sugar almonds. Yes, they require a candy thermometer, but otherwise it’s just almonds and common pantry ingredients. The super-addictive nut mix promises to have your eyebrow-arching guests ask, “You made this?!?” Try not to be offended by their surprise.
Do dessert right
Ice pops may be all the kids need, but here’s a way to step it up a notch without breaking a sweat. This beguiling blackberry peach crisp is a one-pot dessert, made entirely in a slow-cooker. The sweet dish uses the best summer fruits for a delicious way to entertain your guests to the very last bite.
Cooling drinks for hot days
Of course it’s not a summer outdoor party without some cold, sweaty drinks. To look like you went the extra mile, serve fresh fruit or vegetable juices (with or without alcohol) with plenty of ice. Fire up the Accela Ice™ feature on your Kenmore fridge to crank out ample ice for your party — no grocery story runs required.
Using your blender to create refreshing juices like watermelon or cucumber couldn’t be easier. After you’ve peeled the fruit or vegetables, simply toss them in the blender until smooth. Strain with a cheesecloth, or take a cue from this watermelon margarita recipe and simply blend then add whatever else you want — a little squeeze of lemon, perhaps, or a dash of salt.
Knock ’em out with garnishes
One trick to making people think you’ve worked a lot harder on this party than you really have is to set up your drink and bar service on a special tray with fun garnishes. Slices of strawberries and cucumbers set into small bowls, sprigs of mint and basil poking out of shot glasses, and quarters of lime and lemon heaped together look fancy, but require minimal effort.
Whether you’re setting a casual outdoor table with ease, grilling up a storm, or chilling with a freshly made watermelon margarita, use these summer entertaining tips to look like a party pro who knows how to enjoy their own party (win-win).