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Prepare your back yard for the perfect outdoor party this summer

Have a backyard soiree planned this summer? Make sure you're prepared with this expert advice. Home and Garden Television

• Get your yard clean and in order. Make sure the grass is mowed, raked and free of debris, tools and toys.

• Don't overlook spaces inside the house where guests may be, particularly the entryway, kitchen and bathrooms.

• Decorate with cuttings from your yard. Arrange fresh flowers and greenery to add a pop of color and a natural fragrance.

• Have plenty of seating for guests. If you're short on chairs, spread blankets on the grass.

• Choose music that will be entertaining and pleasant, not too loud or overwhelming.

• Think of your guests when choosing the menu. When extending invitations, you may want to ask if anyone has food allergies or dietary preferences.

• Be open to the idea of a potluck party.

• Ask a couple of guests if they would arrive early to help with pre-party preparations. Make it fun by starting the music early and sampling some food.

• Prepare as many foods in advance as possible. You'll be glad you got a head start, and flavors will be enhanced.

• Have at least two large trash cans in convenient locations.

• Create a special atmosphere with lights. Consider lanterns and strings of holiday lights.

• If you are grilling, make sure the grill is clean and ready to fire up with enough charcoal or gas.

• Have a working meat thermometer on hand.

• Keep aluminum foil and plenty of clean plates handy grill-side. When the meat is ready, place it on the plates and create a foil tent to keep it hot if you won't be serving it immediately.

• Consider grilled vegetables to accompany the main dish. Skewering is an ideal method.

• Don't let mosquitoes ruin your party. Include decorative citronella candles with the rest of the lighting scheme.

• If you have electricity outside, plug in a portable oscillating fan or two to ensure your guests stay cool during hot summer days and nights.

• Set out a couple of yard games to play, such as badminton and bocce.

• Relax and allow your guests the same privilege.

• Especially if alcohol has been served, make sure everyone is able to get home safely.

Prepare your back yard for the perfect outdoor party this summer 06/24/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2011 4:30am]
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