1. Use rubber stamps to label what's hot off the grill.
You shouldn't have to shout, "Who wants theirs pink in the middle?" Before firing up the Weber, cut 10-by 10-inch sheets of parchment paper, then use letter stamps to print rare, medium, and well done across the tops in equal number. Lay one on each plate, and when the meat comes off the coals, just slide it onto the dish with the corresponding label and let guests grab what they want. No one will be left wondering which piece has been cooked into submission and which one's barely been seared. (Letter stamp set, $18; heroarts.com)
2. Dress up bottles in one minute flat.
Sparkling water and lemonade, jars of pickles, even soda bottles become part of the decor when wrapped in patterned paper secured with double-sided tape. Use scraps of gift wrap or wallpaper that match your color scheme, or buy these ready-made sleeves.
(The Gift of Wine kit, $14.95; chroniclebooks.com)
3. Anchor tablecloths with pails of posies.
Skip store-bought weights and make your own by filling tiny buckets with wildflowers and a half inch of water. Just suspend the bouquets from your tablecloth using a clip and fishing line or skinny ribbon. Tie and knot one end around the handle of the bucket and the other around the clip. (Three-inch pails, $8.99 for 12, and similar fastener, $8.51 for 36 bulldog clips; orientaltrading.com)
4. Create two exciting drinks from one ingredient.
Hibiscus syrup, which comes in a jar with 11 edible flowers, gives a floral note and a lovely red tinge to tall glasses of tea. Adding one of the buds to a flute of champagne literally makes it bloom. ($11 for 8.8 ounces; wildhibiscus.com)
5. Let the games begin!
There's no better solution for early arrivals and the post-lunch slump than a collection of no-skills-required lawn games. Set out a basket of frisbees, Wiffle balls, and badminton rackets--along with a croquet set--all within view of the picnic table. That way, when the doorbell rings and you're still making last-minute preparations, you can shoo everyone out of the kitchen and tell them to go play. (Croquet set, $139.99; quoitfactory.com)
6. Keep bugs out of the buffet.
Sure, you could ward off ants and flies with plastic-wrapped bowls, but at some point the salad has to come out from under its cover. And then what? A much prettier--and more practical--solution: Pack side dishes in single-serving lidded jars. Spoon individual portions into the containers, then set out one for each guest (and none for uninvited insects). See Shop Guide, page 147, for this simple corn and chickpea salad recipe. (Seven-ounce French terrines, $4.49 each; containerstore.com)
7. Help guests keep their cool.
Battle scorching sun, aggressive mosquitoes, and stifling temperatures with a few thoughtful amenities your friends will appreciate. Buy a supply of fans, plus sunblock and bug spray, and have everything at the ready when company comes. (Paper fans, $5.99 for 12, and raffia fans, $9.99 for 12; orientaltrading.com)
8. Turn holiday lights into summer sparklers
Give those Christmas strands a second life. With a little embellishment, they become twinkling flowering vines, crawling along a porch post and railing. To make these blooms, puncture the bottoms of paper muffin cups in the center and slide one over each bulb. (Tokyo Blue cups, $4.50 for 50; fancyflours.com)
9. Simplify the sundae.
Dressing up a dozen cones before the party starts streamlines the dessert-bar process. To make these treats--think of them as environmentally friendly bowls and toppings all in one--just dip each cone in melted white or milk chocolate and roll in tiny marshmallows, coconut flakes, chopped nuts, crushed cookies, or candy chips. Set out a selection of ice cream flavors chilled in a tub of ice, and dessert is done--without your taking a single order.
10. Recycle with style.
Guests don't have to guess where to stash their empties when you spell it out for them. Buy colorful enameled metal buckets, then label them with stick-on vinyl letters. The results look so good that you won't need--or want--to hide the trash out of sight. (Thickers vinyl stickers, $4.99 per sheet; americancrafts .com for stores. Ten-quart glossy pail, $10.49, and 16-quart, $12.75; bucket-outlet.com)
SEE SHOP GUIDE, page 147, for our corn and chickpea salad recipe, as well as info on the serving supplies shown here.
Five stress-free crafts, a nighttime garden, and one wallete-friendly bathroom makeover
Source Citation:"Take the party outside: it's summertime and--as the saying goes--the living is easy. or at least it will be when you steal these 10 fast, fresh tips for your next backyard barbecue.(ENTERTAINING)(Buyers guide)." Country Living 32.6 (June 2009): 63(4). Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 20 Oct. 2009
Gale Document Number:A200451836
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