Get Ready for a Back Yard Party

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It's that time of year again! Summer has arrived and what better way to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather than a backyard gathering with friends and family? Whether you are having a casual barbecue or a posh party, there is always a lot of work to do before your guests arrive; the following 10 tips will help you prepare (to have fun!).

Clean up the Yard
Appearance is everything! Mow the lawn in advance to give it a nice clean look. Turn and aerate the soil and check that there are no visible weeds. If you have a pool or pond don't forget to clean them a few days ahead. 

Front Yard and Entry
Always remember that the first thing your friends and family see when they arrive is the front yard and entry way. To make sure that all of your guests have a good first impression, use a spare closet or room to hold shoes and coats to keep the entry from becoming disorganized.

Seating Areas
Have ample seating for your guests by making use of any patio furniture you have, whether it's a swing, bench, camping chairs or patio couch. If you don't have enough, you might want to look into renting chairs through your local party supply store. Also, don't forget that you can bring the party indoors as to increase seating space, accommodate guests who may prefer to stay cool, or set up a kids table.

Select the Food
When planning your menu, take your guests' food into account; are any of your guests' vegetarian, gluten free, lactose intolerant or diabetic? An excellent host will ensure that every guest has options available, whether it's the appetizer or main course. 

Prep in Advance 
Depending on the dishes you are planning to serve, you may be able to do most of the prep work in advance (think: salads, veggies and food that requires marinating, etc.). On the day of the party you want to have everything ready to go at least one hour before your guests arrive to ensure you can focus on hosting, not cooking! 

Lighting & Heat 
Keep your guests comfortable long after the sun goes down with help from lighting and heat. Clear light strands or bamboo torches set up around your patio will improve the ambience and increase visibility as the party winds down. If you have portable heaters, it's a good idea to bring them out in advance, just in case you need them. Based on how your heaters are operated, you'll also want to make sure that you have gas, propane or an extension cord. If you have a fire pit, ensure you have enough wood chopped and ready – and s'mores (lots of s'mores!). 

Prepping the barbecue for action should be a top priority. Double check to make sure you have enough propane, gas or charcoal to last the entire party, scrape and clean the grill before your guests arrive and place any required grilling tools such as a spatula, tongs or marinating brush by the barbecue. 

Chilling the Beverages
Knowing that you will have a full fridge of food, decide in advance where you will keep your guests' drinks cool, or where you'll keep pop and juices for kids. You can use coolers filled with ice or try out a Pinterest-inspired DIY project!

Yard Games
Games that you can set up and play in the yard will add fun and excitement to your party or simply work to keep the kids entertained. Have the games set up and ready for guests to use, whether its croquet, badminton or a bean bag toss. You can even create some friendly competition with a round robin tournament complete with prizes and party favours!

Last but not least, don't forget to relax and have fun with your friends and family.