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Bring on all the Summer entertaining and patriotic parties! I am so excited about Summer!!!! I love the longer daylight hours, grilling, eating with friends and family in the backyard and of course trying out all those Pinterest finds.  Along with summer entertaining, we have Memorial Day and the 4th of July right around the corner.

Here are six summer entertaining tips to keep in mind when hosting a get-together.

1. Simple Decor. Don’t purchase patriotic platters and a lot of themed decorations when entertaining, use what you have and let the food assist you in your decorating. This is super easy with beautiful bright colors like Red, White, and Blue.  You can use, cherries, watermelon, raspberries or strawberries which is great because they are in season.  For white anything dipped in white chocolate is delicious am I right, fruit, cookies, Rice Krispie treats or salty pretzels, yum. For blue you can use blueberries, I’ve used blackberries, they can pass for the blue part and many times you can find blue tortilla chips to add to your spread or you can use food coloring or blue candy melts to make things blue.

Red, white and blue utensils in mason jars, are practical and a simple way to add to the decor.

Small touches like flags that you can find many times 4 for a dollar, or fresh flowers from your rose bush, can add that special touch.  You can use mason jars for a vase and dye the water red or blue with food coloring.

2. Prepare ahead of time portioned out snacks.  This makes it easy for you and your guests.  You can place ranch dip and veggies in clear plastic cups, they are portioned out and disposable so no need to clean up a veggie tray after the party.  This also works for desserts, I have done this with red, white and blue jello cups, makes it easy for the kids to pick up their jello cup, enjoy and then toss the cup.  This saves time when it comes to the party clean up process.

3. Set up more than one condiment station.  We have a large extended family with lots of little kids, so even with something as simple as hamburgers and hotdogs, many times a line will form of people waiting to add ketchup, mustard, lettuce, and tomatoes.  Instead of having multiple squeeze bottles, use a cupcake tin, I like a 6 cup tin for this.  You can set up one at the kids’ table and at a couple of different spots.  You can use the tin’s to hold Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Relish but also pickles, tomatoes, and onions. I like using these because they are easy to pass around, a larger platter of condiments and fixings can be a little difficult to pass around, but a muffin tin is easy to pass around.

4. Have a DIY Dessert Station.  I enjoy baking and making desserts but I know that is not true for everyone.  A DIY S’more Station is a great dessert that involves little preparation.  Set out the ingredients and as guests are ready for dessert they can make there own s’more. I find both adults and kids enjoy this interactive dessert.  It’s fun to chat around the fire pit and make your s’more and it brings back those camping memories.  I’ve also done this with cupcakes and cookies if you have the cookies and cupcakes made set out the frosting and sprinkles and let your guests decorate their own, it’s a dessert and activity in one.

5. Kids Fun Kit. If kids will be attending your get together have a kids fun kit ready.  This can be bubbles, chalk, squirt guns, sandbox toys or a new game.  I like the idea of bringing something NEW out because I know with my four boys if it’s NEW or something I bring out that they haven’t used recently it is more apt to keep them entertained during the party.  You can also bring different items out at different times, if you bring out a bag with all the things at once, the kids can lose interest quickly. I will usually bring out the bubbles, let that entertain them for a while and then when I see the need to bring something else out, then I will bring out a backyard game or my new set of sand toys for the sandbox but I like to spread it out over time.  This is a great tip even if you are not hosting the party, but attending a party, bring something fun for the kids to enjoy.  Check out my recent Amloid Toy Review, any of these toys would be great additions to your Kids Fun Kit or for upcoming summer birthday party gifts. Toy Information Link:

6. Enjoy Your Self.  Entertaining should be fun not stressful.  I many times have to remind myself of this.  As a host it’s easy to get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect or look pretty that we end up in the kitchen all night, standing behind the grill or constantly cleaning up and refilling stations. Try and keep things simple and have items you can have prepared ahead of time so you can relax, talk and enjoy your guests.  I know this is hard for mom’s I watched my mom do this growing up and I do the same thing.  We are always cleaning, or doing “one more thing”.  Remind yourself to sit and enjoy, take in all the wonderful sights and sounds of summer.  It goes by so fast.  Sit and watch the kids jump on the trampoline or swing on the swingset.  Enjoy the conversation with your friends. Although it is fun to have Pinterest inspired food and decor, I know the important thing is enjoying our time with our family and friends. Using a little bit of store-bought items and homemade items can help save you time and your sanity, so have a balance of both and enjoy simple entertaining this summer!

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