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Entertaining in Your Own Backyard
Make your backyard summer party a hit with these great tips.

Embrace the summer season with a backyard party and really wow your guests. Okay, so you think you have to go out and buy all new decorations, right? Wrong! Instead use what you already have then display it in creative ways.

Whatís Your Style?
If you want to create impact and create a memorable party, consider your own style. This can be based upon the time of year, the food you prepare, a simple color palette or even the flowers you select. Think about how you want your guests to feel during the party. Do you want a lot of synergy or a relaxed group of friends with lots of conversation?

Color Identity
Start with what you already have. For instance, what are the colors of serving plates, table clothes and flowers you will be using? Build around those colors and then go on a treasure hunt in your own home. Simple accessories such as pillows, candles, glassware, flea market finds and even the food you serve can all bring it together.

Donít forget the beverages. Display a colorful and convenient beverage bar for your guests away from the food. Be creative by mixing up glassware. This is a great time to get your antique glassware and display them so itís easy on the eye and easy to get too. Colorful and creative pre-mixed drinks can also add a splash of color as well! For instance, add a splash of red with pre-mix pomegranate martinis.

Lifts, Layers and Texture
Anyone can put food on a table, but a creative hostess looks at their tabletop as a blank canvas that can be enhanced using lifts such as cake plates, boxes, baskets, etc. to create lifts and layers for the food presentation.

Next, add in the texture. By grouping like colors or items together you not only create lots of texture, but also lots of impact. This can be as simple as grouping several shiny silver pieces together or some vibrant colored candles.

Have Fun!
Planning a party can be overwhelming, but try to make the experience as fun as possible for yourself. Start by creating a plan and then pace yourself. I like to start making food one week prior to the gathering, but I only make a few dishes each day. This frees up my time and keeps me from being in the kitchen all day the day of the party. Ask your spouse for help too! My husband Tom and I prepare food together throughout the week. This is not only a great way to be creative togetheróitís also a great way to hang out and have some fun "us" time together. Cheers!

Kathy Peterson is a celebrity design expert, national TV co-host on LifeTime TVís "The Balancing Act," author of 5 books including "Kathy Petersonís Great Outdoor Decorating Makeovers" and lifestyle columnist. Sign up for your free designer tips and idea newsletter at

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