Some of the best memories are made in your own backyard. Take full advantage of the warm weather with these simple tricks to make your next gathering the best one yet.
Prep, don’t stress: By preparing ahead of time, you’ll be relaxed and ready to entertain if a neighbour comes knocking. Keep a decorative, weatherproof crate or a wooden bin with a secure lid on the edge of your deck or patio. That way kids can keep all of their toys in one place and clean up quickly when guests arrive. You can even use multiple crates and have them handy for extra bench seating.
Build atmosphere: Create an inviting atmosphere by stringing paper lanterns or lightbulbs across your deck or around the railings. Add cushions and decorative pillows to outdoor furniture for added comfort and style. Consider making a picnic table with a built-in cooler or building a wooden crate to hold your existing cooler. Make use of every space on your deck or patio — try putting an accent plant, side table or rustic bar cart to adorn the corners.
Keep guests full and happy: Compile a simple and refreshing menu to keep guests content. Use a grocery list divided by department so you’re not overwhelmed when shopping. Make fresh produce last longer by storing it in the fridge or by creating ready-to-use plastic bags of frozen fruits for your beverages and smoothies. When you’re ready to start cooking, a high-performance blender, such as the Vitamix 780, is a must-have kitchen appliance. Complete with a touch-screen panel and low-profile container, it makes large batches quickly and cleans easily.
Customize your menu for each occasion: To get the party going, treat your guests to the perfect happy hour with piña coladas and a side of fruity avocado salsa. Whip up a batch of cucumber melon smoothies by blending chunks of cucumber, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew for a delicious summer treat that both kids and adults can enjoy. For adults only, turn smoothies or other fruit drinks into cocktails by adding your favourite liquor.
For backyard campouts, try an easy no-nut butter recipe. It’s perfect for dipping apples and carrots — and you won’t need to worry about gluten or nut allergies. Simply blend sunflower seeds, oil, flaxseed and sesame seeds for a no-guilt treat to help kids refuel after an intense game of soccer or volleyball.