Make your summer sizzle

It seems that the minute summer gets underway, your calendar fills up with graduation parties, family get-togethers and backyard barbecues – and that’s not counting the things you’ve already planned.

Before you work yourself into a frazzle, let the experts at give you a few tips (and delicious recipes) to enjoy in the sun without breaking a sweat.

* Stand up and cheer. The backyard picnic is as American as hot dogs and apple pie, both of which are great to serve at picnics, by the way. So show your summer spirit with red-white-and-blue paper plates, cups, coolers, comfy pillows and outdoor rugs to make your summer party colorful and fun.

* It’s all about comfort. Sturdy lawn furniture is a must, but if you don’t have enough for the whole gang, ask everyone to B.Y.O.C. (bring your own chair). And if your yard doesn’t have a lot of shade, think about putting up a screened gazebo or pergola hung with breezy curtains. Not only will you gain valuable shade, you’ll set the mood for cozy conversation. Finally, put out tubes of sunscreen for everyone’s comfort.

* What’s cookin’? Serving food for a crowd? Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish to pass. Remember, there are no medals awarded for falling asleep during your own party. Make a menu and divide the courses between family groups for preparation (the best way to avoid an all-dessert meal), and ask each to bring a copy of the recipe to share.

* Tennis anyone? Family games are always a hit, whatever the occasion. They can be great icebreakers when guests arrive or a welcome follow-up to a big meal – provided the games aren’t too strenuous. Consider the ages and abilities of your guests before finalizing your game plan, then set out the equipment needed. Rather than having a “structured” game time, let guests wander over and play when they want to.

* Always have a plan B. There’s no counting on the weather, so make sure your party is “portable.” In a pinch, a garage, covered porch or family room – or any combination of the three – can fill in as “party central.” Just make sure the area is clean, comfortable and dressed for success with tables, chairs, plenty of room to set crockpots and cheery decorations. In red, white and blue, of course.

For more entertaining and decorating ideas join the conversation on Country Door’s Facebook page at

Brandpoint – Free Online Content