With the weather warming up, kids getting out of school, and everyone settling into a summer schedule, do you do any entertaining? I have to confess, we typically don’t! These transitional times mean my house is a mess and I don’t feel like cooking, especially not after spending time mowing the lawn, weeding, or any of the other projects that this time of year brings. But you know what? That’s kind of missing an opportunity.
Late spring and early summer weather is the perfect time of year for outdoor entertaining, because it’s a beautiful thing to sit out on the deck before the dog days of summer arrive. The men love to handle the grilling, so I don’t have to spend time in the kitchen. All you need are good friends or family, a few cool drinks, and some simple foods, and you can turn any night – even a weeknight – into an opportunity for quality time and memory-making.
Well, and you need to spruce up your space. Especially if you’re like me, and you’re starting with something like this out on the deck:
Yeah. I got this little patio set nearly ten years ago for my condo. My patio was a tiny space, which called for a small table and chairs. It made the move with us and it’s been well-loved this past decade, but in that time there’s a lot that’s changed! We’re a family of 4 now. We’ve been through the baby-stages and come out the other side alive, and our friends are doing the same. Now that we’re putting some of the tough (and I’ll be honest, the anti-social) years behind us, we’re really looking forward to re-connecting with old friends who are also graduating the diaper-bag stage, and to making new friends!
So that means we’re getting our house ready for entertaining. And the fastest way for us to prepare was to go to Target and replace the deck furniture with an affordable and stylish upgrade. It turned our previously-unused space into a friendly and inviting area where we love to spend time! The best part? We can be ready to get out on the deck in just five minutes. Five.
That five minutes makes all the difference – when you’re talking about entertaining outside, it’s as easy as putting up the umbrella, setting out the seat cushions, pulling a few things from the refrigerator and heating up the grill. It’s the absolute easiest path from feeling like you can’t possibly entertain tonight, to being both ready and relaxed. And isn’t that what enjoying time with friends and family is really about?
If you’re still on the fence about mid-week or short-notice hosting, let me share a few suggestions with you to make entertaining on any night of the week happen in a snap:
- Take it outside! Seriously, you don’t have to stress as much about deep-cleaning before people arrive, you can simplify your menu, and there’s not as much cleanup afterward.
- Let the men grill. No, I’m not being sexist. You can let the women grill if you prefer, of course, but what I’m getting at is that you have willing volunteers to cook for you – so let them! Anything you can delegate to a grill enthusiast is one less task for you, so spend that 15 minutes on something else: change out of your work clothes, power clean the bathroom, shake up a round of impressive cocktails, or just sit and relax with your guests.
- Prep side dishes in advance. My go-to recipe is a 5-ingredient pasta salad that you can serve alongside burgers, hot dogs, steaks, or chicken. Make it up in the morning or the night before, and all you’ll have to do when guests arrive is transfer it to a serving dish. You can do the same with a fruit salad or any other cold salad.
I can hardly believe how much nicer our outdoor space is with the most basic of upgrades. For under $300, we have a space we’re proud to show off, and we put it together in well under an hour.
What we’re enjoying on the deck:
Do you have any tips for making mid-week entertaining easier? Do you have any special touches you like to add to really wow your guests?
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