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Here are four steps to making the most out of your farewell to summer:

1.  Looking for a Reason to Eat Outside? Choose an Occasion.

  • August birthday parties. Gather together friends and family members who were born during the month of August and throw one big celebratory party. (Birthday hats optional!)
  • Welcome to the neighborhood. Have a new neighbor? Are you a new neighbor yourself? An outdoor community party offers a perfect chance to introduce yourself, or others, to the new neighborhood.
  • Family picnic. An annual family picnic in the summer is a great way to stay in touch with relatives you don’t get a chance to see on a more frequent basis. And you’ll be surprised how much a regular annual outing can strengthen family bonds.
  • So long to summer. Plan a gathering for no other reason than you just want to store up some Vitamin D for the summer!

2.  Party Planning? Choose a Location.

  • Community Clubhouse. This ranks number one on the low-stress meter in terms of prep and clean-up. Many  communities feature clubhouses which offer a large space to host your party with outdoor space and access to amenities. Be sure to check with your local HOA about booking a space for your next bash.
  • Community park. If you live in a new home community with shared amenities, you’ll have plenty of space to enjoy an outdoor gathering. Check with your HOA for any rules governing public gatherings – they may also help in spreading the word to invited neighbors.
  • Your own backyard. This choice gives you the most flexibility in terms of menu but also requires more of an investment in prep and clean-up time. Start by determining how many people will comfortably be able to mingle in your backyard and use that to guide your invite list. If you have enough space, designate an area for kids by setting up horseshoes, a wading pool, splash pad, or some other outdoor game. With only one outdoor table you can create a buffet-style meal for your guests, and then provide as many chairs as you can.

3.  Thirsty for Refreshments? Choose your Libation (and Food!).

  • If you’re the host … Plan ahead with foods that are easy to eat outdoors with or without a table (unless you know you have enough table seating for everyone invited). Think healthy sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, single-serving chips, popsicles, and cupcakes.
  • If you’re attending a community block party … Ever arrive to a potluck dinner to find fifteen different kinds of desserts and one Caesar salad? While no one has ever wished for fewer brownies to be served at a party, this kind of sugar imbalance can be thwarted with a little pre-planning. Email a sign-up sheet to all the attendees so everyone can coordinate their contributions and make adjustments. Make sure that someone is bringing an entrée!
  • If you can’t or do not cook … There are plenty of non-edible items you can bring to an outdoor party, including soda, bottled water, wine and napkins.

4.  Searching for Décor Ideas? Here’s Some Patio Inspiration.

If you want to go the route of an outdoor celebration in your own backyard, then consider these décor options from the many exterior designers in the area of Charlotte NC and not only.

  • Even a small space can make a big impression with this lush green lawn and minimal furniture. And with the great room nearby, guests can utilize indoor seating to curb the big crowds.

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