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Easy ideas for backyard entertaining

Maris Callahan is the author of "In Good Taste," and, as an avid self-taught home cook, is widely knowledgeable about all things culinary. She is especially passionate about helping women on-the-go cook healthy, delicious meals and snack...

Party alfresco in style

When the weather warms and you take your parties outdoors, entertaining doesn't need to be elaborate. A successful party can be anything from a backyard picnic, an elegant dinner on the deck or a simple cocktail party with pitchers of your favorite summer libations and plenty of finger foods for snacking.

Party alfresco in style

Choose a backyard - friendly menu

Eliminate the need for trivets and oven mitts with a menu of dishes that don't have to be served straight form the oven. A spinach, tomato and cheese pie tastes just as good at room temperature as it does straight from the oven and uses plenty of fresh summer produce. An authentic Italian antipasto is perfect to enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine and spiced lamb kabobs will add a exotic flair to any buffet or party spread.

Keep your food safe

In the summer, one of the biggest concerns when entertaining is that the high temperatures will cause speedy food spoilage. To help keep your food safe and your guests healthy, Sandy Coughlin, author of The Reluctant Entertainer recommends placing your buffet table indoors so that guests can fill their plates before heading outside.

Don't Fuss

When you're entertaining outdoors, there's no need to break out your finest china, linen and serveware. Anything you bring outside will be exposed to the elements, including weather, dirt and insects. Instead of your finest lace placemats, lay a long sheet of brown craft paper over your table for a rustic but finished look. The bonus? Clean-up will be super easy.

Banish unwanted visitors

Set the scene and keep bugs away at the same time with a ThermaCell outdoor lantern. It offers soft, scene-setting lighting and releases a natural mosquito repellent found in chrysanthemums for a 15-square feet bug-free zone. The bonus: you won't need to slather yourself with scented insect repellant in order to stand the outdoors.

More on outdoor entertaining

Creating outdoor entertaining space
10 Patio party essentials
Hosting an outdoor dinner party

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