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Summer Garden Parties Made Easy

How to keep bugs at bay — and other tips for outdoor entertaining

For drinks, fill several glass carafes with different colored fruit juices and place them all in a large bowl filled with ice. (Besides adding color to the table, the beverages won't become watered down with ice.)

Another option is to place a bunch of drink bottles and cans in a large aluminum container filled with water and ice. For a decorative touch, add some flowers to the water, or floating candles if the party is at night.

Accessorize the outdoors

Plan and accessorize your outdoor entertaining space just as you would an indoor room.

For instance, you can use an indoor-outdoor rug to help define your buffet or dining area. Add color and comfort to patio chairs by turning brightly colored, vinyl tablecloths into covers for outdoor cushions. (If you can't sew, use adhesive Velcro tape.)

In addition to candlelight at night, wrap string lights around tree trunks or planters you may have in your yard.

Another option is to use garden torches. You can stake the torches directly into the ground or, if there's no soil in the area, fill four large buckets with sand and place each one in a corner with the torch secured in the sand. Another plus to using torches: If you fill them with citronella, you'll both light your party and drive insects away.

Next: Fun for the kids on your guest list. >>

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