How to: Plan the perfect summer party
1 Make sure you’re prepared
Whether you’re cooking for a few friends, or hosting a family reunion, the key to any successful outdoor party is preparation. “Get as much done ahead of time as possible so you can actually enjoy your time with family and friends,” says John. “Don’t try to do everything yourself. Enlist the help of guests and once everything is planned, execution becomes carefree ."
When it comes to outdoor entertaining, the weather might not always be on your side so “make sure you’ve got a contingency plan in case the weather is uncooperative,” suggests John. Can you accommodate guests if your sunny afternoon becomes a little too sunny? Think about investing in some outdoor furniture to give guests some shade options or put together a stylish table setting indoors, in case your bright afternoon turns to grey skies and the party moves inside.
2 Shop local
Fresh ingredients will definitely enhance your summer recipes, and what’s fresher than buying local? “The addition of local ingredients is a cooking must-have,” explains John. “Go out and get to know the farmers, ranchers and artisan producers in your neighbourhoods. With local ingredients, you’re not only serving guests the best products but you’ll also have a great story to tell at your event.”
3 Go outside your comfort zone
There's nothing wrong with a classic backyard barbecue, but different cooking styles and grilling techniques can be a fun alternative for you and for your guests.
"Entertaining outdoors should be next level," says John. "Since the sky is really the limit, go big, bold and out of your comfort zone! The more people that help out and become involved, the more fun you'll have. So explore interactive cooking styles like crab boils, deep-fried turkeys and whole animal roasts."
Your menu items may only need to feed a few guests, so it's understandable that a pig-roast may be out of the question. Don’t fret! You can still bring some excitement to your party with a new twist on a classic, like bacon and blue cheese-stuffed hamburgers or even grilled pizza on the barbecue.
4 Don’t forget dessert
A sweet summer dessert is the best way to finish any meal. Don’t be afraid to incorporate seasonal fresh berries into your desserts, even if they’re from your own backyard.
“Picking wild berries from the backyard does double duty as an urban garden for our restaurant,” explains Connie. “Everything from honeyberries, wild strawberries and Saskatoon berries grow there. We showcase them in whipped cheesecake – it’s simple, sweet and light. Perfect for summer.”
5 Simple decor essentials
A few simple outdoor decor essentials can dress up your space without breaking the bank. Connie’s advice: “Rustic decor can fit the feel of your outdoor party. Mason jars filled with lemonade, Mexican fire pots burning fruit wood, and beautiful herb and flower arrangements are all great options.”