It’s just about summertime in Australia, which means firing up the barbeque, inviting friends and family over and kicking back among good banter and the sound of summer crickets.
But thanks to lockdowns across many parts of Australia and a chilly winter, many of us haven’t entertained in a while – our hosting skills may be a little rusty.
Here are four steps to get your house guest-ready this season.
1 Keep Your House Clean and Clutter-Free
Unexpected or extra guests are always a given when the weather is warm. And as much as the phrase, ‘the more, the merrier’ is true, a panicked clean of the house always ensues when you’re told guests are popping over … an hour before they’re due to arrive.
Remove that stress by keeping a relatively clean home at all times.We’re big fans of having great storage systems in your home. If everything has its place, a quick pack up is a cinch when you’re about to entertain.
If you know people are on the way, make sure that the bathroom is stocked with toilet paper, enough handwash and fresh hand towels.
Have your outdoor area ready, too. Bunnings has some fantastic outdoor storage boxes so that you can easily transform your outdoor space into an entertaining area in just minutes. I have one of these on our deck and in it we keep placemats, coasters, a tablecloth and a light blanket as well, just in case guests get chilly.
You could keep things like mosquito repellent, sunscreen and table ornaments in there too, as long as you keep it in a shaded spot. It can also be used as additional seating if you have many people over.
Keep in mind that guests aren’t coming around to see your vacuumed carpet or shining floors either – they’re there to enjoy your company and likely won’t even notice a less than clean home.
2 The Great Outdoors
Preparing for guests to come over is the perfect opportunity to get your outdoor area in tip-top shape.
Give hedges and plants a trim and tidy up and dust away any cobwebs. Mow the lawn if it is looking overgrown and scoop up any dog poo. Wipe down any tables and chairs and make sure that that the barbeque is clean and ready to be fired up (if you’re using it to prepare food for guests). Don’t forget to check there’s enough gas in the gas bottle!
3 Keep Bugs At Bay
Summer goes hand in hand with pesky pests – needless to say keeping your guests comfortable means having a pest repelling plan in place.
Dusk is a mosquito’s favourite time of the day, which unfortunately is often the time you have people over.
|These are our best bug beating tips:
Pop some good quality citronella candles in the middle of the table. These candles do a great job of masking scents that mosquitoes are attracted to.
Mosquitoes aren’t big fans of scents such as mint, marigold, lemon trees, basil and lavender.
Use essential oils in a diffuser to ward off bugs - we recommend 10 or so drops of lemon, lavender, tea tree, peppermint, basil or lemongrass.
Mosquitoes breed in shallow water, so remove containers that are holding water, such as empty plant pots or buckets, from your backyard.
Check there are no breaks or holes in your flyscreens and always keep repellent on hand.
4 Finishing Touches
We all want to feel proud of our homes, but this is especially so when we have visitors.
Pick up some new tableware and cushions to spruce up the space or pick up some cheap fairy lights to create a party ambience at the flick of a switch.
|These are some other ideas:
Give guests a rough idea of what you’ll be serving/if you’d like them to bring anything. Keep dietary requirements in mind and keep your menu simple so that you aren’t prepping for hours beforehand or stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun.
Keep drinks cold by grabbing some ice and putting drinks in extra eskies or Flexi-tubs – this will ensure you have enough space in the fridge for party food or leftovers.
Create a perfect playlist. While there are plenty of playlists with a ‘summer barbeque’ vibe available through Spotify, a great idea is to curate a playlist depending on who you have come over – pick genres you think your guests will like, or better yet, weave in songs from their favourite artists into the mix. Also, you want the volume loud enough so people can hear what’s playing but not so loud that they have to yell over the top of it.
Got kids coming? Keep them entertained with bubble blowers, backyard games or board games. One great idea I saw was buying a couple of inexpensive disposable cameras and letting the kids be the ‘official photographers’ for the party.