11 Outdoor Entertaining Musts

Know The Basics

Summer is finally here and with it brings the coveted outdoor entertaining season. Below, I offer some basic summer party hosting tips that will also turn your outdoor event into a spectacular evening.

  Party Basics:

  • Arrange guests in small comfortable groups, to foster mingling (this can be done with small tables or even over-sized grass blankets with filled baskets anchoring the corners)
  • Offer fun water toys/floats for parties with a pool
  • Enhance ground seating with rugs, pillows, or blankets
  • Serve up a rain date on the invite so there is always a contingency plan

  Buffet Basics:

  • Arrange food by this order: entrees, sides, salads, bread, butter, and condiments, and always prepare extra portions
  • Provide enough extra dishes and silverware for second helpings to be enjoyed on clean dishes
  • Position the drink table away from the buffet to avoid traffic jams
  • Offer leftovers in take-away containers, especially to guests who have children

  Beyond Basics:

  • Create a signature theme with a recipe, color, music, or games  
  • Send guests home with a gift bag that relates to your theme (example: if your party theme is 4th of July, find some sparklers and ring pops with a note attached saying “let freedom ring” to fill each goody bag!)
  • In your gift bag, include a take home bagel or Danish for Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast

Dawn Bryan, is the founder of Qualipedia™, an authority on gifting, protocol, quality and conscious choice.

Dawn’s impressive career includes being selected as a consultant and advisor on international protocol for many luxury brands including Gucci, Neiman Marcus, American Express, Business Week Magazine, Hammacher Schlemmer, Citicorps/Diners Club, Swarovski Crystal, and Waterford Wedgewood. Dawn is the author of the best-selling “The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving” (Bantam) and has authored many articles, columns and books on the subjects of etiquette, gift-giving and the quality of things for Business Week, Town & Country, Modern Bride, Vogue and Glamour among others. Dawn has taught international protocol to globalizing businesses and industries, as well as to Chinese journalists and diplomats in Beijing and Shanghai.

Dawn Bryan was the President and CEO of a New York City city-wide non-profit organization, The Momentum Project, Inc., which has frequently been recognized as a national model for congregate meals and services for disenfranchised urban populations. She served as the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the American Heart Association (in Dallas, Texas and Washington, D.C.), and has been both a teacher and Professor. As a restauranteur Dawn opened and ran a successful South Carolina beachside dining room.

Dawn has served on numerous boards and councils, including Mayor Guiliani’s NYC Health Planning Council, and Mayor Bloomgerg’s/HRA Commissioner’s Citizens’ Advisory Group, representing hunger and AIDS interests.

Dawn has been the recipient of many awards, including “Above and Beyond” from the United Way of NYC; NYS Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service Award; National Association of People with AIDS Lifetime Achievement Award (2008); and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2007).