Spring is the perfect time to host an outdoor gathering. Summer BBQs get all the attention, but in the spring, you don’t have to contend with bugs or sizzling temperatures. Plus, after a winter spent inside, we’re all itching to get outdoors! Here are some of my favorite ways to host a spring get-together.
- Keep It Sunny
While we’re all eager to break out the sundresses and sandals again, spring weather can be deceptive: A warm day can quickly lead to chilly nights. Whenever possible, host your outdoor get-togethers during the day when it will be the warmest. Rain is another factor to consider: If you’re planning way ahead, you may want a backup plan to host everyone inside if April showers appear. Alternatively, keep some kind of tent or covering on hand.
- Prep Ahead
An outdoor get-together poses problems for the chef. Unless you have an outdoor kitchen, you’re going to be running back and forth bringing out food and drinks, and maybe even doing some last-minute prep inside while your guests enjoy the spring weather. Whenever possible, try to think of menus that can be largely made ahead of time, like a brunch quiche with a premade fruit salad. Don’t forget the drinks: Keeping a cooler stocked with beverages outside saves everyone time. If you want to get fancy, mixing up lemonade (and maybe a spiked punch for the adults) gives everyone options without turning you into a bartender.
- Smart Shortcuts
In the summer, you can fire up the grill and feed an army. With so much produce at its height, all you need is a few hotdogs to round out a meal. But in the spring, all those fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies are still months away. Rather than scramble to put together an appropriate al fresco menu, I also offer this suggestion: Fake it–mostly. If you’re short on time, get a few pre-made options to drastically shorten your time in the kitchen. Grab a sandwich platter from a local deli, for example, and add a homemade pasta salad. Order pizza and add a homemade tossed salad that’s sure to be an upgrade to your typical pizzeria. Even if you go full take-out, platting everything in your own bowls and platters will make a huge difference.
- Take A Seat
When I host an outdoor event, I try to think of my backyard as another room in my house. Just like I want plenty of space for people to sit and gather at an indoor get-together, I try to ensure ample sitting room outside as well. This allows guests to relax and gather in smaller groups and helps the party flow. In addition to the outdoor table and chairs, I try to create at least one small group of chairs for people to relax in (more for a larger party). Georgia Furniture Mart has a great selection of outdoor seating that isn’t just limited to dining.
- Finishing Touches
Finally, to make a gathering really special, think of a few easy finishing touches you can add. You don’t need to go overboard with decorations when you have the great outdoors as your backdrop, but adding some cut flowers on the tables goes a long way. Any time I host an outdoor get-together, I leave hand sanitizer, bug spray, and sunscreen easily available for guests. It’s a relatively inexpensive gesture that people really appreciate. In the age of Bluetooth, it’s also often easy to give your party a soundtrack. Little touches like this make even a casual picnic feel special.
And as always don’t forget to live beautifully today!
– Mia, the Furniture Girl