Summer Entertaining Tips
With 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 Frontgate.com.
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.
The Benefits of Beverage Tubs
The key to throwing great parties is finding time to actually relax with your guests. Rather than spending the entire party serving or refilling drinks, use a beverage tub to create a handy station that allows guests to help themselves. Keep sodas, beers, cocktail fixings, and wine perfectly chilled and easily accessible. Beverage tubs are more attractive than unsightly plastic or foam coolers, and make finding the drink you want easy since you can see what’s available without lifting any lids or digging through layers of ice. For large gatherings, avoid lines at the bar by placing several drink stations throughout the party space. Pair your tub with an ice bucket, glasses, cocktail napkins, swizzle sticks, and garnishes such as lemons, limes, and cherries. Don’t forget beer bottle openers and corkscrews for the wine. Use a piece of handsome ribbon to tie the openers to a tub handle or attractive table decoration. This ensures they won’t be accidentally misplaced by guests. Beverage tubs are fantastic for children’s events too. Load one with juice boxes and other kid-friendly drinks, place on a low table, and allow children to pick what they want. Use year-round for indoor or outdoor entertaining.
Summer meals should consist of light, friendly fare that’s easy to cook and a delight to enjoy. Grilling corn, vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood perfectly match these stipulations. Frontgate offers grade-A grills to get the job done, but even gourmet grill masters can benefit from these summer grilling tips. Before you get started serving up great meals, select the type of grill that’s right for you. Both natural gas and propane gas grills allow for the ultimate convenience. They are easy to heat, easy to cook on, and especially easy to clean-up. A charcoal grill, on the other hand, offers a hotter grilling surface and offers easier temperature control.
When starting to light your gas grill, remember to keep the lid open before starting the ignition. Then follow the lighting instructions specific to your grill. Professional grillers recommend preheating your grill up to 10 minutes more than the time recommended on the grill instructions. For a char coal grill, purchase hardwood charcoal, which should be available in your local grocery store. This type of fire-starter is easier to get burning, and it burns at a hotter temperature than normal charcoal briquettes. Many grillers also agree that hardwood charcoal ensures your meal has a cleaner taste and won’t taste like charcoal. In order to facilitate even easier clean up, place one sheet of aluminum foil on the grill and place your grilling ingredients-meat, veggies, seafood-on top of the foil. This measurement won’t give you the lined grill marks your guest may desire, but it will save you from scraping any drippings off of your grill grate. Another popular option is to seal both your entrée and sides in one aluminum foil “package”, along with spices and seasonings of your choice. Place the entire foil package on your grill and the juices from the dish will combine to give you an incredible robust taste. To ensure your grill keeps its outwardly shine, use our Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner. Plus, when you’re done using this cleaner on your grill, you can use it on your indoor appliances to keep their original luster.
Depending on what you’re cooking on a grill, you’ll need to control the temperature of the heat while you cook. A good tip when using gas grills is to leave one side of your grill turned on high to thoroughly cook thick Angus steaks or juicy swordfish. The other side should be set to a lower temperature, so your vegetables or baked potatoes are done around the same time as your entrée. Some grills feature an added warming rack where you can toast buns or keep already-cooked items warm. With charcoal grills, simply place your meat over the hotter-burning charcoal flames, and delegate side dishes to the edge of the grill, away from the main source of heat. This will ensure even cooking for your main dish, and will help avoid burning other dishes. For slow cooking succulent brisket or ribs, don’t place the entrée directly over the heat. Instead, move the charcoal to the perimeter of the grill and place your meat in the center. If using a gas grill, light one or two grill burners, place the dish on the unlit burners, and keep the grill lid closed as often as possible to ensure a hot environment. Be wary of grill flare-ups: When a particularly fatty piece of meat or oily marinade drips off your dish and into the fire, you might see some pretty lively flames. When this happens, first protect yourself. Then, protect your food from being charred by simply moving it to another burner on your grill or away from that side of the charcoal grill.
Fire Pits that Light Up the Night
on’t let your fete end prematurely when the sun goes down. Install an enchanting fire pit to add warmth and cast a cheery glow. A roaring fire will delight children and adults alike without the mess and damage to your yard caused by a traditional bonfire. A contained fire is also safer than an unrestrained yard pyre. Each pit is fabricated of only the most exquisite elements. It is then beautifully appointed to add charm and character to your home. Lesser models may rust and deteriorate, but ours stand up to the elements and feature grand details such as granite, marble, and glass tops. We offer numerous options from simple basin designs to multifunctional pits that double as cocktail tables. These are particularly handsome and convenient in intimate settings. If you prefer a natural approach, select a wood burning fireplace. Those who value an effortless approach will be smitten with our clever propane fire pits that cleverly conceal unsightly fuel tanks. No matter which style you select, the ambiance of your outdoor space is guaranteed to become instantly more inviting once the fire is lit.