15 Easy Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Summer Entertaining

Dollars & Sense on 05.28.12
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Photo: you can count on me/Creative Commons

It's almost summertime, and the livin' will be easy -- especially if you've arrived prepared. Here are 15 ways you can think ahead now, so you can live in the moment later. Check them off, and then get out that margarita mix.

1.  Organize patio dinnerware, napkins, serving platters, and pitchers. If you know what you have, you won't waste money buying new.

2.  Dust off the window and door screens in the basement and clear out a weekend morning to get them all installed.

3.  Pull out summer hats, flip-flops, and sunglasses -- and while you're at it, put away winter clothes and pack up stuff to give away.

4.  Tuck away wool throw blankets, fuzzy rugs, and fireplace supplies to change your welcome from cozy to refreshing.

5.  Take off the grill cover, and make sure you have enough charcoal or propane to have your first cookout. If you hate the smell of lighter fluid, try a charcoal starter.

6.  Stock up on bug spray, sun tan lotion, citronella candles, and yard guard.  

7.  String up some outdoor lights to add some sparkle to your evenings. Try lighting powered by solar chips like lanterns that look like punched tin ($27, Gardeners.com).

8.  Hose down patio tables and chairs. If you need new ones, check vintage shops, Craiglist, and yard sales for charming sets at a fraction of the price. 

Lemonade Stand
Photo: eren {see+prairie}

9.  Gather recipes for cool drinks and summer dishes like lemonades, teas, pasta salads, and appetizers. (We recommend: 7 Side Dish Recipes for a Perfect Barbecue.)

10.  Dust off your outdoor equipment -- bubbles, sidewalk chalk, inflating balls, and sand toys.

11.  Consider investing in a silly sprinkler or tree swing to lure kids away from the glowing screens and A/C inside. 

12.  Check out late spring sales at garden centers: pick up some showy flowers that will bloom all summer long, like firework geraniums or grandiflora petunias.

13.  Get the kids into planting fast-growing seeds like jack-o-lantern pumpkins or moonflowers, which bloom at night while you watch.

14.  It's not too late to plant food like tomatoes and basil, which love the hot sun and will get started right away. Soon you'll be able to serve Caprese salad from your own garden.

15.  Finally, go through your calendar and plan dates that work for you, family, and friends to get together. After you've done all this great work, don't let the busyness of daily life rob you of chance to celebrate and slow down.

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