(NC) - Do your summer gatherings consist of simply throwing a few burgers or pork chops on the grill? To help make the next party enjoyable for your guests and stress free for you, the entertainment experts at Ocean Spray have provided this helpful checklist to use in preparation for your next bash:
Advise your guests of the date, the location, the time/duration, the theme (if any), and the attire for day and/or evening.
Inspect outdoor furniture for quantity and condition. If in short supply, local party stores have tables and chairs available to rent.
Grilling is an easy and tasty way to cook for a crowd. Make sure your barbeque is clean, is in good working condition and has ample fuel.
Create a buffet station close to where your guests will be seated and cover it with a tablecloth. Count the food plates, cutlery and napkins needed per person, from appetizers to main course to dessert, as well as plan the necessary serving spoons, serving dishes, and beverage glassware.
Set up a self-serve cocktail bar off to the side of your patio in a shaded area. Include a variety of liquor staples (gin, vodka, rum), juices (cranberry and orange) and soda, ice, glasses and garnishes (lemon, limes).
Have both red and white wine available as well as a selection of beer chilling with ice in a cooler.
Plan a signature cocktail to start off the party. A punch is a great make-ahead drink for a crowd and can be made either with or without alcohol.
When planning your menu, start with two to three appetizers and don't forget the vegetarian options. Your menu should also include some foods that have steps that can be prepared the day before - such as pre-washing salad ingredients, marinating the meat and mixing any pre-made sauces and dressings.
Keep desserts light and simple; serve things like fruit plates and ice cream for the kids or have guests bring their signature dessert.