I love hosting cook-outs for friends and family as much as I can during the summer. As most of you know, it can be tricky trying to have a stress-free, bug-free (especially here in the South), happy gathering for all! Throughout the years, I’ve found a few tried and true tips to make any summer party a great success!
First, prepare the space to be used. Usually it’s a backyard, patio or possibly a portion of your street blocked off for a neighborhood party. It’s a good idea to make sure the space is cleared, and there are designated areas are assigned for different activities. We don’t want anyone sliding down a slip-n-slide, headed towards a bar-b-que grill! Safety first, people!
By setting designated areas, it allows for children to play, adults to sit and socialize, and for food prep, cooking, and eating to be in certain zones without safety hazards.
Usually when there’s food outside in the summer, the bugs will come rushing in! There’s nothing more annoying than constantly shooing flies away as you’re trying to enjoy your burger! Tiki torches with citronella fuel is great for repelling mosquitoes and give a festive vibe to any summer celebration. Be aware of fire danger if you use these. There are also a few fire-free ways to repel mosquitoes, flies and biting insects. Some planted herbs, like rosemary, mint, and lemongrass are great natural ways to repel these pests. Potted marigolds placed around your patio and on tables also adds a decorative touch, while keeping the pesky bugs at bay. In addition to this, you can use essential oils like like lavender and eucalyptus sprayed around the party area. It provides a natural repellent and a smells amazing! Another inexpensive tip for repelling bugs is to use mint mouthwash in a spray bottle! Spray the tables, chairs, patio and side walks! The refreshing smell will keep the flies away!
Now for setting up the kids play area. It’s a good idea to include water play features, yard games and a cooler of kid-friendly drinks. Place this area near the sitting area of the adults, so even though the adults are busy socializing, they can keep a watchful eye on the kids at all times. The idea of having a kids-only cooler of drinks is a good idea, especially if alcoholic beverages are being served. You don’t want a child mistakenly grabbing an adult drink. Fill the cooler with lots of small water bottles, juices and Popsicles. Setting up a water play area, some games like horseshoes, badminton, bocce ball and water balloons is a great way to keep the little ones from being bored. Here are a few of my favorite items that have been a hit though the years, along with a few new things! I’m especially in love with the Bunch O Balloons! Fills many water balloons at once and are self-sealing! Win-Win! Fantastic for a fun water balloon fight! At the end of the party, I like to give small gifts to all of the children that help pick up the piece of balloons left on the yard. It’s a great incentive to have help in cleaning up.
Setting up the Fourth of July festivities table! Of course, after the sun goes down, we’re all looking forward to a fireworks show! If you’re a “big show” kind of person, that’s great! Some states are very restrictive on the use of fireworks, so I like to go for a little more low-key, less-risk, kind of celebration (better for animals and small children). It’s fun to set out a small table with cute mason jars filled with glow sticks, sparklers, snap ‘n pops, and party poppers. It’s a festive way to celebrate in a safe manner.
As for the Adult sitting area, having misting fans (personal or standing) is ideal. Usually the adults aren’t doing water-play with the children, and need a way to stay cool also. In addition, the fans will also help with keeping insects away, it disrupts their flight, making it harder to get to you! Also, pop up a few umbrellas, place the sitting area under a shade tree, or under a cabana. Have bottles of sunscreen, extra sunglasses, and and jaw hair clips available on the tables in the adult sitting area. These may be things your guests didn’t bring, and are handy on a hot summers day!
Have the adult drinks cooler nearby with plenty of water and also some favorite adult libations! Another great item to have in the cooler is a gallon size baggie filled with moist washcloths or disposable, wet towelettes. Its quite refreshing to be able to cool your face, neck and hands on a hot day!
The cooking area should be kept the furthest from the children for safety reasons, of course. We don’t need kids running by grills, food prep areas or toppling over your great-aunts famous trifle! Setting small picnic table for the “kids-table” is a good idea. The children will know that when it’s time to eat or need a snack, they can safely sit at the “kids-table” and not be under-foot in the cooking area. Make sure you have plenty of coolers and chafing dish buffet sets to help keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot! (Refer to safe temperatures recommended for each dish). It’s also great to have disinfectant counter, and hand wipes for those clean-ups when you may not be near a sink. Below are a few of my favorite picks that work great for any outdoor party!
Now is the perfect time for having family and friends over to enjoy those lazy days of summer! Enjoy with the greatest of ease, making wonderful memories together! Happy Summer Everyone!
“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”