Warm weather means outdoor picnics, barbecues and family get-togethers. Casual gatherings don't always have to mean plain paper plates and paper napkins. Here are some cheap and easy ways to entertain indoors or out with creativity, not cash!
Create a theme for each event you host. This can be anything from a sports or garden theme, Fourth of July patriotic theme, or as simple as a cool ocean colors theme. A theme will give you direction in choosing your table adornments and make the whole gathering feel pulled together.
Set a background for your food with what you already own. A colorful blanket draped over a table will give your outing a western or Mexican flair, or pretty pastel sheets and quilts can make a garden tea all the more charming. Make confetti for the Fourth of July table with a paper punch and junk mail. (The kids would love to help you with this!) Use Memorial Day to print out color copies of ones we have lost and wish to remember, and hang the photos from trees with ribbon. Use a few colorful bottles, tea cups or bud vases and fill with fresh flowers from your garden or supermarket.
Display your foods in a festive manner. It doesn't take much money to line your serving platters with lettuce, to add a few sprigs of mint to your dessert trays, or to use rosemary sprigs to edge the huge platter of ribs you just pulled off the grill. You can find fresh herbs in the produce section of your grocery store. They are an inexpensive way to add a special touch in sight and scent to any meal, making it all the more special. Besides, there is something very outdoorsy about adding fresh herbs to a meal that will cause your summer outings to linger in your memory. After all, scent is the strongest sense the memory recalls.
Use unconventional items for serving. Almost anything that can be run through the dishwasher can be used to hold silverware, napkins or condiments. Try terra cotta pots or large seashells. An old wagon can hold ice and soda. Think of your theme and then make a list of related items and see which ones you can use for serving pieces.
Finally, enjoy the outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and listen to the kids play. Know you are making memories that will last a lifetime, and you have put your heart into creating the perfect backdrop for those memories!
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