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Beyond The BBQ! Ideas And Advice For Successful Summer Entertaining

It's summer and that means pool, patio and backyard party season is in full swing. So whether you're hosting a few close friends and family members or an army of kids from the neighborhood, you've got to make sure you're ready with everything you need to keep the summertime blues at bay.

Protect The Picnic Goodies!

No, chances are Yogi Bear is not going to steal your picnic basket. But heat and humidity can make some of your eats a whole lot less appetizing. Come prepared with portable storage with a cooling element, like an insulated container or a multi-compartment server that holds an ice tray underneath. If your party is going to be an all-day affair, keep the food fresh between meals by stashing it in a cooler or putting it back in the fridge and reheating it later. A good rule of thumb is never eat cooked meat or dairy products that have been out of a refrigerator for more than two hours. The same rules apply for condiments, once containers are opened. Here are 10 rules for keeping food safe outdoors.

Add A Little Evening Decor

The party doesn't always end when the sun goes down, so put some lighted accent pieces on display for a glowing good time. Lights and lanterns are available in all kinds of eye-catching styles and you can buy hanging or stand-alone models to suit the needs of your space. You can even find decorative bug zappers that beautify your patio or pool deck while keeping the pests away.

Party Favors Always Please

You might be surprised how easy and affordable it is to make a small gift bag or basket for your guests. Fill each with sampler-sized packets of suntan lotion, a pair of cheap shades or flip-flops, a small bag of refreshing mints, and maybe a kitschy seasonal knickknack or two (Tiki shot glasses, anyone?) to turn an ordinary summer night into a special occasion. Add some summer-themed gift wrap and watch the smiles spread as you hand out your freebies.

Make It An All-Ages Affair

The best gatherings keep everyone entertained and chances are you have a mix of married and single friends, with children and without. Keep the little ones busy (and out of their parents' hair for a while!) by having plenty of kids toys and games on hand. And if your guests range from 8 to 80, make sure your party soundtrack mixes it up from current pop hits to classic jazz standards. Set your playlist to "shuffle" and you'll have the most eclectic array of party tunes imaginable.

Turn Your Driveway Into A Drive-In!

The drive-in movie theater is an endangered species, but there is something special about enjoying a favorite flick with friends in the evening air. Well, with a few technical gizmos -- some that you may already own -- you can relive those nostalgic memories or make new ones for those too young to have ever gone to a real drive-in. Your set-up can be as simple as a DVD projector, some speakers and a white bedsheet attached to your garage door.

Hosting a great summer gathering is easy if you know what your guests enjoy and make sure you're well stocked with supplies and entertainment options. At LTD Commodities, we have everything from outdoor tableware to games and equipment for the pool. Count on us to help make your party or get-together one you'll remember long after summer fades into fall.