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Ideas for summer entertaining and family fun without breaking the bank 

NORFOLK, Va. (June 25, 2012) – With summer heating up and gas prices rising, families can avoid expensive vacations, instead enjoying a “staycation” by throwing their own backyard BBQ or other budget-friendly summer party at their home. For the perfect backyard getaway, shares the top six entertaining must-haves for summer.

Summer Entertaining Checklist

  • Plan Ahead – Think like a party planner by creating a list of party essentials and working through it. The key is to prepare as much in advance as possible. For example, marinate meat a few days before the party and store in the freezer, rearrange furniture if necessary, and prepare decorations ahead of time. The more work done in advance, the less last-minute aggravation.
  • Design and Decor – Pick your theme and let your creative juices flow – from a patriotic party to a summer luau – then transform your space into the perfect getaway. Have fun with outdoor spaces by using bright colors, cheerful paper lanterns and hanging fans to capture the summer breeze. For an eye-catching centerpiece, take yellow paper lanterns and fill with blue and fuchsia daisies.
  • Flavorful Food – Summer parties aren’t defined by five-course meals. Keep stress at bay with simple yet interesting food choices. Start with gourmet sandwiches made with Granny Smith apple slices and blue cheese. Then heat up the grill. The main course should be simple but tasty – burgers and brats never get old. Spice them up with decadent add-ons like melted brie, grilled pineapple or roasted red peppers.
  • The Signature Drink – Signature drinks have become party staples, so use the party theme as inspiration to transform a traditional drink into a signature one. It’s as simple as putting a new twist on a classic drink. Like margaritas? Add strawberry or blueberries to create a Fireworks-ita to celebrate the 4th of July in style. Don’t forget to garnish. Cheers!
  • Sweet Endings – Top off a great meal with a delicious dessert station, letting guests create their own sweet treats. Have a fire pit? That’s perfect for a s’mores station — it’s a fun, nostalgic conversation starter.  An ice cream sundae station with tons of toppings also does the trick.
  • Playtime – Summer games are always a hit. Choose something simple yet fun and help guests work off their delicious meal. A good game of croquet or a beanbag toss competition will get people moving, laughing and having fun.

For more information and tips on summer entertaining, visit the Idea Gallery at


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