It’s that time of year again – get ready for barbeques, soirees, pool parties and fun-filled evenings in the backyard. But as the sun shines later and bugs emerge from their winter hibernation, hosting a gathering isn’t always a piece of cake. We sat down with some local experts – frequent entertainer, fashion designer and Bedford resident Andy Yu, Deanna Marano and Brett Cameron, event planners from La Maison de Fete and Debbie Franzes and Alex Walsh – owners of Bedford Gourmet – to get their best advice on summer entertaining.
1. Plan in advance/don’t leave things until the last minute
Summertime tends to be the busiest season, so don’t wait to make plans. In fact, make sure your guests don’t make other plans, by sending out a “save the date” email, text or card as soon as you’ve decided on the day. As the date gets closer and you pick an exact time, send out the actual invitations.
If you’re using a caterer, Debbie Franzes and Alex Walsh of Bedford Gourmet recommend contacting your caterer as soon as possible, especially if the event is larger and staff and/or rentals are needed. “The sooner the better,” they say.
2. Plan for sun, rain, wind and more
As we all know, summer weather can be incredibly unpredictable. One day it’s 90o and sunny, but the next day, it’s 20 degrees cooler and pouring rain. With that said, it’s always important to be prepared, just in case. Franzes and Walsh suggest you rent a tent or plan to spend time inside in case of rain and/or wind. Or, reserve some beautiful patio umbrellas from La Maison de Fete so you can continue the outdoor fun in style.
3. Cater to all palates/dietary needs
Deanna Marano and Brett Cameron of La Maison de Fete say that “being a good host means making your guests feel comfortable.” When planning an event, think about the types of guests attending. If they’re vegetarian, gluten-free or have other dietary restrictions, make sure you serve food they can eat and enjoy like everyone else.
4. Make it fun for everyone!
When it comes to activities, Marano and Cameron say that lawn games are a must in the summer, especially for kids. That means anything from lawn bowling and corn hole, to giant chess sets and badminton. Or take it old school with a fun game of kickball or even tag. Offering activities keeps kids off their technology and ensures that kids and adults have fun together.
5. Mind the heat
No matter how good the food may be, or how nice the music may sound, no party is fun when guests are sweating or the food begins to droop. Franzes and Walsh recommend you refrain from serving foods that melt easily – like soft cheeses, butter or chocolate – as well as foods like hot stews and soups that are hard to enjoy when the temperatures rise. Instead, they prefer fresh, summery foods like crudités, crackers, salads or nuts and olives when it’s warm outside.
6. Prevent pests from taking over
What’s also not fun are the bugs, especially the ones that bite! To prevent summer insects from bombarding your food, our experts advise that you use plenty of bug-repellent candles, sprays and/or La Maison de Fete’s bug-repelling incense sticks. Tools like these will keep your party smelling and looking nice, as well as bug-free.
7. Think outside the box
Although traditional events (like barbecues and pool parties) can be fun, thinking outside of the box can take your event to the next level. “Always add an element of surprise for your party guests,” Yu suggests. He says that spicing it up, even in just a small way, can create far more ambiance. For example, he suggests playing a unique type of music, exploring a new culture through cuisine, or adding another course to the meal.
Another idea is to create a themed event. La Maison de Fete recently planned a 90’s themed party as well as a 50th birthday “white-out” – both were fun for the hosts and the guests, who dressed accordingly. Regardless of how you choose to distinguish your event, when you add fun, distinctive elements, yours will be an event everyone remembers.