Prep the Yard
Get your yard clean and in order. Make sure the grass is mowed, raked and free of debris, tools and toys.
Clean Up Inside
Don't overlook spaces inside the house where guests may be, particularly the entryway, kitchen and bathrooms.
Display Fresh Cuttings
Decorate with cuttings from your yard. Arrange fresh flowers and greenery to add a pop of color and a natural fragrance.
Set Up Seating
Have plenty of seating for your guests. If you're short on chairs, spread blankets on the grass.
Pick the Right Music
Choose music that will be entertaining and pleasant, not too loud or overwhelming.
Choose Food for Everyone
Think of your guests when choosing the menu. When extending invitations, you may want to ask whether anyone has food allergies or dietary preferences. You can also try a potluck party. This will lighten your load as host, and it's a fun way to try new dishes.
Pull In Friends for Help
Ask a couple of guests whether they would arrive early to help with pre-party preparation. Make it fun by starting the music early and sampling some food.
Prepare Food in Advance
Prepare as many foods in advance as possible. On the day of the party, you'll be glad you got a head start, and flavors will be enhanced.
Set Up Outdoor Lighting
Create a special atmosphere with lights. Be creative by mixing up the sizes and shapes of candles, spreading them throughout your space. Also consider adding lanterns and strings of holiday lights.
Prepare the Grill Station
If you're grilling, make sure the grill is clean and ready to fire up with enough charcoal or gas. Have a working meat thermometer on hand so you don't have to guess on grilling time.
Fire Up the Grill
Keep aluminum foil and plenty of clean plates handy beside the grill. When the meat is ready, place it on the plates and create a foil tent to keep it hot if you won't be serving it immediately. Remember, the meat will continue to cook for a minute or two, so consider this when factoring in the grill time.DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Cook Healthy Sides
Consider grilled vegetables as a great side to accompany the main dish. Skewering is an ideal method. Rotate the veggies once using metal tongs. They should take only a few minutes to cook.
Keep Summer Pests Away
Don't let mosquitoes ruin your party. Include decorative citronella candles with the rest of the lighting scheme. Also have mosquito repellent handy for your guests. Choose one with a light scent, such as aloe.
Set Up Yard Games
Set out a couple of yard games to play, such as croquet, badminton or bocce.
Enjoy Your Soiree
Relax and allow your guests the same privilege.