6 Great Tips for Outdoor Entertaining
When your garden is in its prime and the weather is co-operating it is a beautiful time to entertain outdoors. At those times there are few guidelines I like to follow to keep things easy and give your event personality.
First and foremost is to “keep it simple”
Share the foods you love best, prepared in a way that is comfortable for you. As a professional I am likely to get caught in the “show-off” trap. But one thing I have learned is that I do my best and I am a better host when I fall back on my trusted recipes. If you decide to try something new then test it on your family in advance until it is perfected.
Think about the comfort of your guests
If it is a day event think about how you will provide shade for your guests. Renting an extra umbrella, a tent or covering for an area may be important. If your party is continuing late into the evening provide something for warmth. This may a space heater or simply as assortment of shawls or throws to wrap around chilled shoulders. I like to place a potential covering for shoulders on the back of the chair. It is comfortable to lean back on and to wrap in when needed.
Nothing is worse than to be caught sitting at a table all evening
Create a variety of locations for your party. Taking your guests to different areas of the outdoors and the indoors adds spontaneity. I frequently set aside a stand up area for appetizers and drinks, another area for dinner seating and a new location for desserts.
For your buffet think room temperature and chilled with a hot accent here and there
Caterers know that room temperature and cold foods holds up the best. Trying to keep something warm is rarely successful without loss of flavor and texture. It simply is not stylish or wise to hold food at a warm temperature in the oven or on top of the stove. Choose an accent dish that will be placed in the oven to cook and will come out hot and fresh at a timely moment.
Keep the flowers and candles low and simple
Sunflowers or other large blossoms with stems cut to just a few inches and placed in assorted bowls add color and cheer without blocking the view across the table. Collect colored glass cups of different sizes and colors for low votive candles that keep a warm glow in key areas and are not challenged by breezes.
Create a Ceviche Bar or other DIY bar to start your party with guests engaged
Give your guests a chance to build a dish of their own. Whether this is a ceviche bar, deviled eggs with assorted toppings, or assorted lettuce wraps having some way for your guest to participate will help to break the ice and get everyone involved.
Louise Hasson is owner and lead chef of Bon Vivant School of Cooking. Seattle’s premier cooking school for beginning and experienced chefs. At Bon Vivant Louise and her team of chefs strive to teach culinary creativity, not just recipes, in a relaxed home environment. Visit Bon Vivant on Facebook and get more recipes on her Blog.