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Hosting tips for perfect backyard parties

For some reason, parties held in the backyard always seem more fun than those hosted inside.

Hostess at backyard party

The fresh air invigorates guests, food tastes better in the great outdoors, kids and dogs can run free, and a lot of the clean up is minimized with disposable dishes and flatware. Being the perfect host is easy if you follow a few simple tips and guidelines.

You don’t need a party planner, a live band or a fancy menu to be a perfect backyard host. In fact, the more you you put into the party, the better it will be.

Be prepared

It’s never too early to start planning a party. Before you choose the date, check to make sure it doesn’t interfere with guests’ personal celebrations, such as birthdays or anniversaries, or conflict with big community events generally attended by most of your friends and family. Check the extended weather forecast so you don’t have to deal with torrential rain or hurricane-strength wind.

Choose a theme and/or menu and don’t vary from it; going off on tangents creates problems that multiply. Use a big erasable whiteboard or notebook to map out what has to be done, starting about two weeks ahead of time, and assign tasks to be completed each day. Make food and non-food shopping lists that can be added to as items come to mind during the planning process. If you have to rent chairs or tables, reserve them as far in advance as possible and have them delivered the day before the party. Arrange for the yard to be mowed and the landscaping spiffed up a day or two before the event. Test the CD player for sound quality and choose a wide range of music to satisfy various tastes.

Personal best

The best hosts are comfortable hosts. When you feel at ease, you put your guests at ease and the fun flows freely. Pick an outfit for the event that you feel good wearing, including comfortable shoes. Choose loose-fitting clothes in washable fabrics that you can move freely in to cook, mingle, dance — whatever happens to transpire.

Best outfits to wear when hosting a backyard BBQ >>

Tasks and tension

Just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you have to micromanage every little thing. Take the pressure off by having friends help out with last-minute jobs like picking up a pre-ordered cake from the bakery, buying ice and flowers, or giving Aunt Julie a ride to and from the party. Expect the unexpected, but don’t fret. If you plan well, problems will be minimized, and if something goes wrong, roll with the punches. After all, you’re among friends who just want you to have as good a time as they do.

Note: Don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a backyard party, not a reception for a queen or a fancy fundraiser. Serve food and beverages based on your guests’ preferences, not on showcasing your most complicated dish or advanced culinary skills. Write the words comfort and fun at the top of your planning list, repeat it several times each day, and you’ll have a backyard bash people will be talking about for years to come.

Drinks and favours

Choose a signature drink and prepare batches of it ahead of time. When guests arrive, immediately give them a beverage to put them at ease and encourage mingling. Have a bar stocked with basics and let people serve themselves, or let eager guests take turns acting as bartender throughout the party. Place a basket of simple favours near the door such as small candles in rustic containers, wine from local vintners or herb seedlings in tiny decorative pots. As the guests depart, hand them each a favour as you thank them for coming.

More about backyard parties and barbecues

The perfect summer patio menu
5 Canada Day BBQ recipes
How to make the perfect summer cocktails

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