Entertaining al fresco is one of the best parts of summer. Spending time with family and friends outside on a warm summer night should be a laid-back, stress-free affair. Eliminating common entertaining stressors is the key to enjoying yourself as much as your guests will. Read on for the entertaining tips you need to know for a seamless summer hosting season.

Eliminate Pests
Nothing can make you want to venture inside faster than being swarmed by mosquitos and other insects. Ensure you have ample bug deterrents, such as citronella candles, a mosquito repellant, a patio shield repellant and easily accessible bug spray for those who choose to use it.

Use Outdoor Dishes
Having a set of outdoor dishes and utensils in a material such as melamine is a stylish and functional way to serve food. Melamine comes in various patterns and colors and won’t crack or break if it falls on a hard outdoor surface, like concrete.

Check the Weather Before Planning the Menu
As you prepare your menu, consult the forecast so you can select dishes accordingly. If it’s a sweltering day, you’ll want to avoid dishes that can melt or wilt. A vegetable tray or hummus plate is better than a charcuterie board or cream-based dips. If you plan on serving a premade cocktail, leave out the ice, so it doesn’t become watered down.

Set Up Self-Serve Stations
Creating stations lets your guests help themselves at their leisure, making hosting a less stressful experience for you. Set up a fully-stocked bar area, so guests can make their own drinks and an area for them to help themselves to food, utensils, condiments, napkins and any other items they may need.

Have Adequate Lighting
Ensuring your outdoor space has proper lighting will create an all-around more comfortable experience for your guests. The main seating area, walkways and doorways should all be well-lit. If you like the look of string lights, draping the outdoor space with string lights will create a laid-back summer ambiance.

Ensure Hydration
On hot summer evenings, ensure your guests are getting enough water. Set out water carafes or dispensers throughout the outdoor area so your guests have easy access to a quick glass of water. Infusing the water with refreshing fruit, cucumbers or mint may make the water more appealing.

Plan for Chilly Evenings
If the evening is chilly, make sure the outdoor heaters are on, fire up the firepit and have a basket of lightweight blankets for your guests to wrap around themselves. A comfortable atmosphere will keep the gathering from ending prematurely.

Set Up an Outdoor Movie Night
Whether you’re looking for a quiet activity for the children, or prefer to keep it adults-only, a movie night under the stars can create summer-time memories. Setting up a large screen projector or watching a flick on your outdoor TV seems better when you’re outside. Of course, setting out plenty of blankets and popcorn will make the experience that much better.