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Summer Entertaining

Designer Throw Pillows

ith warmer temps and longer days, the timing is just right to host outdoor gatherings. Frontgate offers these five tips to make your summer entertaining just right.

1. Set a comfortable scene. Mix plush, deep-seating outdoor furniture with couture high dining sets. This allows guests to mingle between intimate conversations and cozy eating arrangements.

After you select your furniture frames, choose vibrant, bright cushion and throw pillow colors that match your home's architecture or landscaping. Our brick and cocoa colors always pair up nicely with stately, older estate. And our newer colors such as Wyndham Wheat, McGinnis Classic, and Softly Elegant hues will definitely make a statement while in the backyard of a stylish, modern home.

2. Add to the ambience. After your seating and dining furniture is arranged, brighten up your outdoor party area with intricately designed outdoor lighting. Or create a subtle, intimate glow around your table with votive candles placed along an elegant runner.

Daytime parties call for relaxing, shady areas where guests can take a respite from the summer sun. Choose the type of umbrella stake that fits your needs, then top it with a vibrant canopy. Find commercial grade patio umbrellas, including high-wind resistant umbrellas, at

3. Eat, drink, and by merry. Pick a menu to fit the atmosphere of your summer soiree. For formal catered gatherings, interview a few local caterers to take care of all the preparations and clean-up work for you. Informal parties lend themselves to snack-sized finger foods, such as nuts, pre-sliced cold cuts, or chips and salsa.

Select a variety of dishes at room temperature to avoid hot entrees getting cold, or cold desserts melting. Keep your drinks cool with the Glacier Double Wall Beverage Servers, and the Super Chill Insulated Servers for appetizers or snacks.

As for beverages, be sure to include both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Serve a range of white and red wines, keep a variety of bottled beer on hand, and be sure to keep a variety of soda in your beverage tub.

When deciding which specialty drinks to concoct, pander to your audience. Whip up strawberry and banana shakes or virgin daiquiris for a Sunday afternoon baby shower. Keep a bottle of Petron on hand for your cousins, or stock your wine cellar for your mother-in-law.

Typically, you should budget for three drinks per guest. If you're planning on serving a meal, set out four-six different hors d'oeuvres; serve12 if it's not a dinner party. Finish off a meal with a 9-inch pie or tart per eight to 10 people.

4. Be creative. One worry of many hosts is that their party will be a bust. Filling your party scene with accent pieces that double as conversation-starters is a sure-fire way to get people talking.

Use a larger candle holder to display fresh flowers, or place salsa and tortilla chips in margarita glasses for an appealing appetizer. Use traditional water glasses to hold thin breadsticks for an Italian accent. For informal gatherings, roll utensils in a linen napkin or placemat and arrange in a basket. For parties with children, hand out mason jars and set the kids loose on a firefly chase. Or purchase coloring books and puzzles to keep youngsters occupied.

5. Work the crowd. Get people talking by mixing different groups of acquaintances. Expand your guest list to include friends of all ages, professions, areas of town, and interests. As host, you can enjoy introducing one faction of friends to another, and your guests will enjoy meeting new acquaintances.

To prevent everyone from congregating near the food, create different "hot spots" throughout the party area. Set up your bar opposite side of your buffet, or set up different bar areas around the party-assign one bar for martinis, one for wine, and one for other cocktails. If hosting party games, set these up in a different area than your main gathering space to encourage movement and conversation.

Another trend gaining popularity is to ask guests to help. Your friends will feel honored to be tapped as part of the "Hospitality Group," and more bashful guests can use their duties as a great ice breaker. Plus, you'll spend less time pouring drinks or directing traffic. And don't forget: You're a party guest too. Do not be too busy making sure everyone else has a good time to
partake in your own party.