While I like to entertain whenever I can, I love outdoor parties most of all. Guests seem more relaxed and open. I know I am. There is something different and less formal about being outside the house. Interior parties can be stuffy and confining. In the winter, of course you can make them work. Put up some holiday decorations and plan a menu of your favorite dishes. Everyone enjoys a roaring fire and a mug of hot cocoa. But there are other ways to entertain friends and family.

I love the atmosphere of a patio or garden, not to mention the fresh air and gentle breeze. Day events have the advantage of the sun and clear blue sky while night festivities are blessed by a deep enveloping warmth. Summer is the best time to have a barbecue buffet in my opinion. A keg of beer is the perfect accompaniment day or night. People love to help themselves and go back for more. They can mingle as they line up with their clear plates. The ambiance is free and easy. At night, I love the soft glow of candles. There is so much you can do to enhance the good time.

Beer is my preferred beverage and one keg can last for hours. I never asked how many are in a full keg, but I expect to have leftovers based on what I read in this blog: https://www.crackacoldone.net/complete-keg-size-guide/. No worries. You can continue the party for yourself and special guests the next day. I was told a half keg would do for fifty people, but I was afraid of running out and didn’t take the advice. I plunked down a few more dollars for the maximum size. There is nothing worse than switching your key item midstream. People who enjoy beer do not particularly like wine or want to switch to soft drinks. An outdoor party begs for the best keg beer available. Treat your guests to their first choice. I know my crowd and they would vote for it every time (barring the Christmas hot cocoa while it is snowing outside).

There is a definite protocol to a summer party and a keg of beer is tops on the list. You can have it delivered for no additional charge. The vendor will likewise come and pick it up. It looks cool on your patio with a bunch of glass beer steins on an adjacent table. This gives the event a special cachet, far better than paper cups. Parties require extra attention, and this is but one way to make them special. Setting a great table is also a must. Make the food look attractive by using colorful trays and eschewing the usual throw-away, boring aluminum stuff. Use flowers or other decorative items in between the various dishes. Your paper plates and utensils should be colorful and feature a garden theme. Coordinating everything around one motif is the way to have a unique party with flair and fun.

Today I want to tell you about a great, huge party I threw. There were tons of people, lots of decorations, and glorious food. Without these, you can’t call it a party. I ran all around town to buy the best my town has to offer. First it was the bakery for fresh-baked bread, then the patisserie for a very special French dessert. All the produce for the dips came from an organic market, specializing in homegrown food. The meat was prime. I spent a lot of time cooking side dishes and making sure that the menu was scrumptious. I was hunched over my computer for hours downloading music that would convey the right mood. My back and shoulders got super sore after a few days of this preparation. Yes, parties are fun, wonderful social occasions, a way to see long-lost friends and family, and a time to present lavish fare. But they are also a lot of work and errands all day take a toll on the neck and body.

I hadn’t used my portable massage chair pad for a while, but out it came from its secret hiding place in the closet behind the vacuum cleaner. I think it is going to have to get a new home. I remembered how much it helped in the past and now was the time to resume use of this handy device. You can place it anywhere you like from a car seat, to a den easy chair, to an office seat. It does more than its stated job; it works magic. Let me tell you, when the party is over, you are going to want such a gadget. Why have I forgotten all about it?

If you get a good one from a site like Higher Massage, you can choose from a variety of settings from low to high. Some come with a built-in vibration feature while others permit a wonderful radiant heat. If you live in a winter climate, by all means get this one. They cost more but then again they do more. They are light weight, even with all the bells and whistles, and even easier to store. You probably won’t want to stow it since I know you will get hooked. Why not put it in the trunk of your car or under the bed so you can grab it fast. It works on batteries (rechargeable) and they last a long time. You can try it for a half hour or more and it will keep going, like the Energizer bunny.

It’s party time! I say this a lot because someone or other is having one and they know I always show up. My husband and I enjoy celebrating most any milestone in life for any member of the family or close friend. We also have fun at casual get-togethers. It doesn’t have to be a birthday or anniversary. Life should be full of happiness, and it often comes with rejoicing the special moments of our existence. They are rare for some people so make the most of them.

I went to a really good party the other day and there is a message I want to share in this blog. I enjoyed not being the hostess with all the planning, shopping, cleaning and cooking it requires. When I am in charge, I end up pleased with my efforts, but this time I could sit back and relax. The food was wonderful and the people were friendly and talkative. This makes for a terrific time. Add a few decorations and some flowers and you are in heaven. Drinks enliven any down spirit. By the way, a party doesn’t have to be super fancy. Some people like to show off, but it is rather obvious. Why not do your best and let everyone take it from there. It is all about the right mix of guests in one room. Give them a few snacks and they are off and running.

The problem with the party I mentioned—it happened to be for dinner—was that the hostess smoked all throughout the evening. I expected it to permeate the food because the air was certainly stale in the living room. Being in a smoky environment for an extended period of time is not my preference. Even if the rest of the party is great—and it was—I am always disappointed. I go home and there is telltale smoke in my hair and clothing. I don’t like to go to bed with smelly hair and can’t stand to leave the clothes out where they can pollute the air. I have to take a shower and load up the washer right then and there. It only gets worse if you wait, and getting smoke smell out of clothes just gets more difficult with time. You don’t want your head to touch your clean pillow.

The next morning, I noticed that the clothes were not as fresh as expected. I ran the machine again but this time I added a tiny drop of lemon essential oil. It was a guess and I had high hopes. I know that citrus candles do wonders for cooking odors, so why not lemon for smoky clothes? It was a successful scientific experiment and the evening was salvaged in that I didn’t need to toss my favorite blouse. Most of my friends don’t smoke, but it is a heavy price to pay for a little company and good food. I will ask next time before accepting an invitation.