Throwing an outdoor party in Kansas City comes with a few incentives as well as drawbacks. Although there's usually piles of amazing BBQ surrounding you, there's also a pretty good chance you're also being eaten alive by mosquitoes while swimming through some seriously soupy and humid evenings. We like to keep things fresh, fun and fleeting to make sure everyone has a good time!
The Low Down On Our Party Must Haves
• Horseshoes: You can find a solid set of horseshoes for as little as $10, though we love this simple metal set from Toys R Us. Now who's ready for a game?
• Orion Cooker: Although many in these parts have larger smokers that take a full days worth of cooking to get the party started, we double-plus love our Orion cooker. Not only does it impart some serious smokiness, it does it fast! Think 8 racks of ribs in 45 minutes, cooked to perfection. It's not only affordable, but gets the job done every single time.
• Barbecue Til Your Head Falls Off: By using the Orion cooker, or a more traditional smoker, no Kansas City outdoor party is complete without piles of ribs, chicken, pork and oh so tasty sausage. If you'd like to see what KC BBQ looks like, make sure to check out the tour of last years American Royal BBQ contest!
• Drinks, Drinks & More Drinks: It doesn't matter if you like your summer refreshments spiked, plain or drenched in citrus and fresh herbs from the garden, a whole table full of drink dispensers is sure to keep your party happy and hoppin'. We love dispensers of all shapes and sizes, but especially those with straight sides that allow for easy cleaning!
• Electric Lanterns: Super bright lights are a quick attraction for bugs of all shapes and sizes, but a few hanging electric lanterns that give off a soft glow keep things atmospheric without leaving you mushing mosquitoes when they bite.
• Strong Lights: Just because we have hanging lanterns, doesn't mean we don't need a bit more lighting around our patio or deck. A few strings of lights look just as great as 100 of them and are always worth the purchase. To get the best deals, watch for clearance merchandise at the end of the season!
• Real Plates: We've mentioned before that we have an extreme stock of plates and outdoor parties are a great time to put them to use. We keep large plastic buckets full of hot soapy water on hand. That way when guests are finished, they can scrape their scraps into the compost bin and then place the plates in the buckets. Clean up is a snap and we never regret having them on hand.
• Salvaged Tables: Even though we have access to an outdoor space, it doesn't mean we have room to hold tables in storage anywhere. When we throw a large bash we call our local wood salvage and ask for a few planks. They're always more than willing and we just return them the next morning. Before that idea came along however, we just used inexpensive doors from the ReStore and kept them under our bed.
• Tablecloths: Although our favorite way to deck out an outdoor table is with brown paper (simple, inexpensive, no laundry to do), we do like to splurge now and again on a killer tablecloth. We've recently been spying this one from Anthropologie.
• Serving Trays: These bad boys pull double duty around the house as places for magazines to land, dinner to be taken into the living room, or even as artwork with a mirror framed up on the inside. You can find them most anywhere, but these are from IKEA.
(Images: as linked above)