Warm weather and good company can only mean one thing — it's time to get busy with summer entertaining. Backyard barbecues, pool parties and midday meals with friends occupy many a weekend during Canada's warmer months.
Sita Kacker, senior product developer for Loblaws shares her tips for making sure your summer get-together goes off without a hitch.
Entertaining faux pas: Not prepping enough
"I think the number one thing is when you're entertaining, I mean you actually want to entertain and hang out with your guests," says Kacker. "So you want to do all your prep work and as much stuff as you can in advance."
She says that being a little more organized before guests arrive, by doing things like setting the table, preparing simple appetizers and popping some drinks in the cooler, you can spend more quality time with them when they do arrive.
She suggests preparing something like a platter of veggies and then quickly grilling up a cheese like Halloumi to have an elegant and simple vegetarian option that's ready in no time.
"Just take it out of your fridge in the kitchen and you're not sitting there sweating over the grill the entire time."
Entertaining faux pas: Not having non-alcoholic beverages
During the summer especially, hydration is important, and while many grown-ups enjoy an adult beverage or two on a hot summer day, non-alcoholic drinks should be a staple of any backyard get-together.
Kacker suggests having a variety of sparkling juices, pop and water available for guests to enjoy. These drinks are increasingly coming in more elegant packaging too — perfect for kids and grown-ups alike.
"You can put the coolers out, they have all the ice, they have all the drink options in there and then your guests can just help themselves and stay hydrated during the barbecue."
Always remember to enjoy alcohol responsibly.
[See also: Barbecue mistakes to avoid]
Entertaining faux pas: Not having dessert
You definitely don't want to forget dessert says Kacker. "A lot of times we spend so much time doing the main course and appetizers and getting all that stuff ready, but it's always nice to have some sweet treats."
You don't have to put a lot of time into preparing dessert either. Something as simple as a fruit salad is often a hit among guests. Kacker also suggests one of the many frozen desserts on a stick that many food companies are now making. You're sure to find a variety and flavour to please.
"The best thing about something on a stick is that there's minimal cleanup. You don't even have to worry about extra dishes."
Another great option, she adds, is to set up your own ice cream bar. Put out all your flavours and toppings like sauce and diced fruit, pre-chill your bowls and let your guests build their own customized dessert.
Entertaining faux pas: Not having enough variety
Whatever you're serving up at your next shindig, try to have a couple flavour options for guests to choose from so that no one's tastes are left out.
Kacker suggests something as simple as grabbing a box of veggie burgers, just in case someone is a vegetarian or has given up meat temporarily for some reason.
A mixed case of pop and a few different bags of chips can help round out any backyard get-together.
You can never have enough food, she adds. "The best part of having company is the leftovers!"
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