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serve pina colada's at your next balcony party

4 no-fuss tips for easy outdoor entertaining

Some of the best memories are made in your own backyard or balcony. Take full advantage of the warm weather with these simple tricks to make your next gathering the best one yet.

Prep, don't stress: By preparing ahead of time, you'll be relaxed and ready to entertain if a neighbour comes knocking. Keep a decorative, weatherproof crate or a wooden bin with a secure lid on the edge of your patio or balcony. That way kids can keep all of their toys in one place and clean up quickly when guests arrive. You can even use multiple crates and have them handy for extra bench seating.

Build atmosphere: Create an inviting atmosphere by stringing paper lanterns or lightbulbs across the inside of your balcony or around the railings of your deck. Add cushions and decorative pillows to outdoor furniture for added comfort and style. Consider making a picnic table with a built-in cooler or building a wooden crate to hold your existing cooler. Make use of every space on your balcony or patio — try putting an accent plant, side table or rustic bar cart to adorn the corners.

Keep guests full and happy: Compile a simple and refreshing menu to keep guests content. Use a grocery list divided by department so you're not overwhelmed when shopping. Make fresh produce last longer by storing it in the fridge or by creating ready-to-use plastic bags of frozen fruits for your beverages and smoothies. When you're ready to start cooking, a high-performance blender is a must-have kitchen appliance. Complete with a touch-screen panel and low-profile container, it makes large batches quickly and cleans easily.

Customize your menu for each occasion: To get the party going, treat your guests to the perfect happy hour with piña coladas and a side of fruity avocado salsa. Whip up a batch of cucumber melon smoothies by blending chunks of cucumber, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew for a delicious summer treat that both kids and adults can enjoy. For adults only, turn smoothies or other fruit drinks into cocktails by adding your favourite liquor.

– News Canada

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