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Summer Garden Parties Made Easy

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

Backyard garden party

Colorful summer fruits are beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. — Photo by Juniper Images/Getty Images

En español | These practical, inexpensive, easy-to-do tips can turn any outdoor area into a party space for you and your guests.

Decorate the table

Lightweight fabric tablecloths and napkins are much nicer than paper and plastic. Or substitute traditional tablecloths for individual placemats, like those used on a kitchen table.

See also: Selling your home? Think "staging."

Fresh flowers, seasonal fruits and different-sized candles are perfect for creating small tabletop arrangements. (A fun way to protect candle flames from the wind is to place them in small glass vases or Mason jars, like those used for jams and jellies.)

If your guests will be seated at one long table, space the arrangements four place-settings apart, making sure the decorations aren't so tall that they interfere with conversation.

Set up the buffet

Have the food and drinks you'll be serving also serve as table décor.

You can display food on a pair of cake stands that are stacked one on top of the other, decorated with fresh flowers.

Another fun idea is to put corn chips in tall vases and serve them with guacamole or salsa in martini or margarita glasses.

Next: 3 ways to keep bugs at bay. >>

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