Tips for Hosting a Stress-free
Al Fresco Potluck

This Fourth of July, take some stress out of how you'll feed guests and offer up your stunning outdoor space for a fun, friendly potluck. But don't stress out about that, either! Employ some of these ideas to create a get together that will be high on good conversation, low on mishaps and an event to remember!

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1) Center it around a theme. Fourth of July, obviously, is a great place to start, but add some guidelines to help spark dish ideas for guests. Maybe it's even a handful of ingredients that folks should try to incorporate into their recipes.

2) Create a sign up list. Consider starting an email stream or Google doc that allows folks to sign up with what dish they're bringing. If that sounds a little less than casual, consider that it will cut down on everyone just bringing those blueberry, whipped cream and strawberry flag cakes. You can even start the list off with some dish ideas for guests who don't cook well or need a jump start.

3) Consider the sun and when it's the hottest. Summer usually means high temperatures, so make sure you have either ample shade or start the food-eating at a time that you know your guests won't start wilting like daisies. And if you've got a fan, use it!

4) Find a good spot for the food spread indoors. Now this might be a bit controversial, since some folks' style of entertaining is a good spread of food on an ample outdoor table, but we always vote for keeping the buffet indoors. This'll keep down on the flies buzzing around the table, too.

5) Create a condiment/drink station with covers. Only make guests have to go back indoors for a second (or third) round. Create a drink station with plenty of ice and options in your eating area, but also bring out an array of salad dressings and condiments for sauce lovers, too.

6) Let folks know whether the oven/stove/microwave will be available for heating up. To avoid flustered guests with cold dishes later.

7) Spray for bugs beforehand. Or, use more natural methods to keep critters away: An Eco Friendly, Safe Way to Repel Flies.

8) Your brilliant tips or ideas for how to have a stress-free potluck outside! (Let us know in the comments below!)

More potluck ideas, recipes and inspiration:
Outdoor Living Inspiration: Garden & Patio Dining
Outdoor Dining: Make an Outside Kit!
15 Crowd-Pleasing Potluck Recipes
What Are Your Best Potluck Dishes?
Potluck Etiquette: What Are Your Rules?

(Images: via Inspire Bohemia; Faith Durand)