The secrets to successful outdoor entertaining

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Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 8:00 pm

(ARA) - What makes an outdoor party great? It's simple: Keep guests comfortable.

When friends and family gather at your place for a party this summer, what will they remember most about your backyard? The lovely landscaping and delicious food you served, or uncompromising weeds and stinging bugs? Make that lasting impression a positive one by creating an outdoor environment that's both comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.

No pest zone

Nothing ruins a party faster or more thoroughly than unwanted stinging bugs or prickly weeds. Take the proactive route and prevent these pests from showing up at the party.

Before the invitations are sent out, make a sweep of the yard and look for pesky weeds that could cause discomfort for guests. Keep unwanted plants like poison ivy, thistles or sand burrs from ruining the fun. In addition, it's always a good idea to head-off any annoying pests like wasps, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks to keep them from assaulting party guests. For more information on how to effectively deal with these uninvited guests visit www.scotts.com.

Refreshments

An easy way to set the party mood is by choosing a menu appealing to everyone. Casual or formal, food can be easy to prepare and enjoyable for everyone to eat. Consider your guest list and the event that you may be celebrating. Be aware of common food allergies as well as any vegetarian or vegan friends. Make your menu simple by providing guests with a little variety and by relying on fresh produce. Locally grown fruits and veggies are abundant this time of year and are appealing to most people - even dieters. Use fresh fruits and veggies to make easy appetizers, salads, entrees, side dishes or even desserts.

Drinks are essential to great outdoor entertaining as well. Whether you are entertaining children or adults, the drinks you choose can set the mood. A signature drink is always fun. Try refreshing lemonade for the kids or a festive sangria for adults. Also, be sure to provide lots of ice-cold water to prevent dehydration in the heat of summer. Offer herb cuttings for garnish or float edible flowers in pitchers.

Seating

Nothing is more inviting than a comfortable seating area. Offer shady areas to help establish comfy conversations and be sure to provide ample seating for all your guests. Pull out all your folding chairs, borrow outdoor chairs and tables from neighbors, rent extras if needed and get creative. Ottomans, large buckets, logs, straw bales or even coolers can make great seats. As long as the surfaces are clean and sturdy, a cushion can always be added for a little extra comfort. Make sure to dust off and spruce up existing seating for a fresh look as well.

Lighting

Nothing sets the tone of a party better than lighting. This important element can make a world of difference. Candles or torches can do double duty by providing soft, illuminating light and helping to keep bugs at bay. Purchase candles or oils with citronella to discourage mosquitoes from making an appearance. In addition, solar lights or battery-powered lanterns can bring some much-needed illumination to dark corners of the yard. Strings of electric twinkle lights can make the less-remote areas sparkle for guests as well.

In anticipation of a big event, you've compiled the guest list, pulled together a menu, made sure there was enough seating, set the mood with lighting and gotten rid of the uninvited pests. Let the partying begin.

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