As soon as spring has sprung, one of my first priorities is getting setup for a long season of outdoor dining and entertaining. Something about the Great Outdoors makes an ordinary dinner or get together extraordinary, don't you think? I've already got my first outdoor party on the calendar. It makes preparation much more fun, knowing there's a celebration in sight.
The first thing I do is pull all the furniture, rugs, and seat cushions out of storage and give them a nice, cold power wash from the hose. Then I let them dry out in the sun. The colors seem to come back to life and I know there are no hidden cobwebs anywhere, which means there are no hidden spiders. (Eeek!)
My wood furniture gets a fresh coat of paint or finish. Early spring is a great time to paint. The hot summer sun can make paint dry too quickly or gum up. A sunny spring day is perfect. I like to treat a couple of small tables and accessories that I have to different paint colors each year for a fun and easy makeover. One quart of good quality paint usually takes care of it and satisfies my urges to create a new look.
I also watch my local supermarket, home improvement, and big box stores for good sales on the accessories I'll need for the season: tea light candles, citronella candles, tiki torch oil, lighters, paper lanterns, charcoal, cedar wood planks, grill tools, napkins and plastic ware. (Another good time to shop is the end-of-season clearance sales when you can stock up for the following year.)
I start a herb garden in small pots early in the season. The small potted plants are so pretty and useful and I can easily transport them indoors if the temperature dips too low. Once they outgrow their pots, it's warm enough to plant them in a bed. Perfect timing!
The barbecue gets an all-over tune up. The propane tank is refilled, the grill is scrubbed fresh, the hoses are tightened, and the heat is turned on high for at least 30 minutes to thoroughly cleanse the grill from any off-season germs that may have accumulated.
I also stock up on fleece from the fabric store. It's usually on clearance this time of year, so I get several yards in coordinating colors to make easy, no-sew throws for the patio that I keep in a waterproof bench. I don't do anything to the fleece at all---I simply have the fabric store cut it in two-yard increments, which makes a perfectly sized wrap for cool bodies on a chilly evening. And since it's so inexpensive, I don't worry about sending my throws home with guests. It's a perfect party favor and so appreciated.
That's how I get ready for outdoor entertaining. What do you do? Share your ideas in the comments section!