Throw Amazing Backyard Parties!
Now that you have terrific landscaping in place, have a party to celebrate! You don’t need a birthday or special occasion, it is summer in Minnesota and that is cause for celebration by itself!
First thing you will need to do is to invite people. There is a terrific website www.evite.com that will not only email out your very cute invitations but keep track of your friends’ replies. Some designs cost money but many are free. You can include directions also. Sometimes GPS can send people in a totally different direction so written directions are helpful. My house lands about five miles away from where it actually is on the GPS system.
A theme is a good idea for structuring your party. Use something you have available like a pool, beach, playground or fire pit. A barbeque grill is a theme and an event! Luau is always a popular party theme. Of course there are plenty of birthdays, anniversaries and graduations too. You don’t need to plan activities, but if your crowd likes something to do; here are a few ideas. Rent or purchase a bean bag toss set, bocce ball, ladderball, croquet or badminton. If it is warm, an inexpensive kiddie pool is fun as are bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Card and board games can occupy the less active set. Squirt guns are good clean fun, but set some safe zones for those who are not playing. A slip and slide on a hill is a whole afternoon worth of fun for the kids.
Try to coordinate your tableware and décor to the theme. Here are just few partyware designs from this website: http://www.orientaltrading.com
To save on cost, consider a sturdy plain colored plate with cool napkins. Buy a couple sets of inexpensive picnic silverware and you won’t spend money on plastic forks (that break anyway) ever again. Ice can be put in garden trugs or storage containers to chill drinks. Buy more ice than you think you will need. It goes fast on a warm day! Glow sticks under ice in a clear container are great evening party idea! These Inflatable Buffet and Salad Bars are a great idea for keeping cold foods cold. (Amazon.com about $12).
Now let’s talk food! There are thousands of outdoor party recipes to choose from. Weather is always a concern. If it is going to be hot, one thing I try and avoid is mayonnaise based dishes. There is nothing worse than the constant worry of food poisoning. Potato salad may need a new recipe. Try this one from allrecipes.com.
Roasted Potato Salad with Balsamic Dressing “Chunks of potatoes are roasted with herbs for intense flavor, then combined with Mediterranean-inspired ingredients like artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and Gorgonzola cheese. A homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing is poured over the savory salad. Serve warm or cold!”
If you would like to serve a “grillable”, explore the possibility of making it earlier in the day and reheating it, so you can spend more time with your guests. For some reason, steak and hamburgers don’t reheat well so save this short cut for items like chicken and ribs. If you search barbeque recipes on www.Pinterest.com you will find hundreds of good ones. If you haven’t joined Pinterest yet, take this opportunity to explore a world of great ideas on almost any topic!
If you are looking for something new try tinfoil dinners, kabobs or a whole turkey for something different. Betty Crocker offers “24 no fuss foil packet” recipes on their website – click here to head there! You can make very simple kabobs with chunks of bratwurst, onions, whole canned potatoes and zucchini or use this recipe. Butterball offers directions on the grilled turkey.
A few special touches like outdoor lighting can set an inviting scene. Use white Christmas lights to wrap trees. Create luminaries from glass canning jars and set them along a path. Hang small jars in trees with battery operated votive candles for a fun accent. The hula hoop idea is courtesy of Pinterest.com and very easy to do. Make a fire pit of retaining wall stones or field stones. Then make S’mores!
One solution to keeping bugs off the food, is a mesh bed canopy available at stores like Pier One and Cost Plus World Market. Another solution is foldable food tents found at camping stores. Provide bug repellent for guests who may not have come prepared. Sunscreen is a good idea too.
Here is a quick and easy party to plan! Outdoor movie nights are very popular these days. You will need a projector that hooks up to a laptop (you can rent or buy one), a white screen (bed sheets work or a white building) and snacks! Here is a sample invitation (popcorn optional) or use evite.com. Time the start of the party for sunset. Use blankets or lawn chairs for seating. Pillows are a nice extra.
Plan some “concessions”. Popcorn, candy and caffeine free soda are good starts. For adults, you can go with wine in small bottles or specialty beer. Have a pitcher of ice water also for those who may not want to drink too much.
If you really want to be deluxe, go with an appetizer and dessert spread. Plan clean up for morning! Remember to relax and have fun!
Thanks for growing with us! Have a great summer!
Operations Manager for Iverson Homes
UMN Sherburne County Master Gardener and a veteran landscape designer/installer