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A Guide to Hosting Summer Parties

A Guide to Hosting Summer Parties

Whether it’s intimate dinner with friends or a casual backyard barbecue with the family, hosting summer parties is always fun and exciting. The preparation, however, can be stressful and challenging. Below is a hosting guide and a sample menu to help you plan for your next summer bash.

Use Colorful Tableware

    It’s the perfect season to play around with colors, so start with your tableware. Use brightly colored plates to add an eclectic feel to the table. Don’t worry if they don’t match—mismatched dinnerware makes the affair appear more laidback. Scour flea markets or yard sales for inexpensive but attractive china that you can mix and match.

    Decorate with Seasonal Flowers

      You don’t need a full blown floral centerpiece to make your décor interesting. Just grab two to three empty jars and stick in a few stems or sprigs of seasonal flowers in each one. Wild flowers also work well for a rustic table setting.

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      Incorporate Food into the Décor

        To make things even easier, make food part of your décor and take advantage of seasonal produce to brighten up the table. An appetizer platter or a bowl of mixed berries can even double as your centerpiece.

        Go for Mood Lighting

          Mood lighting is key to setting your party’s atmosphere.  Turn off overhead lights and use lamps or candles. If the party is outside, hang paper lanterns together with string lights over the table or trees for a cozy ambiance. Don’t forget to light up pathways and steps to avoid accidents.

          Set Up a Beverage Station

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            A dedicated drinks station is a great way to encourage people to start conversations with others. If it’s a large party, set up multiple stations so that your guests don’t have to line up for refills.

            Stick to Easy Recipes

              To make your hosting duties as stress-free as possible, create a menu that’s easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time. Leave last-minute grilling a few hours before the party starts and set the table the day before. Here’s a sample menu to get you started.

              Appetizer: Summer Appetizer Plate with Honey

                Remember that your appetizers should be light and not too filling. This sampler platter features a variety of yummy starters drizzled with locally sourced honey. Get the recipe here.

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                Salad: Freekeh Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette

                  Freekeh is green wheat that’s harvested at an early stage, then piled, sundried, and roasted. If you can’t find any in your local farmer’s market, you can use wheat berries as substitute. Try the recipe here.

                  Main course: Neely’s Wet BBQ Ribs

                    This St. Louis-style pork ribs is perfect if you like sticky ribs and don’t mind getting your hands dirty. Go here for the recipe.

                    Dessert: Coconut and Berries Popsicles

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                      Berries are abundant this season and making popsicles out of them is a nice way to cool down after a hearty meal. Check out the recipe here.

                      Drinks: Raspberry Lemonade

                      Raspberry_Lemonade

                        Nothing says summer like an ice-cold glass of homemade lemonade. Turn this into a cocktail by adding a splash of vodka or rum. Grab the recipe from here.

                        Extra Tips

                        • Don’t be shy to ask for help. Delegate tasks like manning the grill or setting the table so you can focus on other things.
                        • If your guests offer to bring something, say yes! Appetizers or dessert can be that one thing off your mind.
                        • Make sure you’re well stocked on drinks and ice to minimize supply runs.
                        • Avoid repeating flavors. If you use strawberries for appetizers, think of something else for dessert.

                        A summer gathering is all about casual entertaining. Keep things simple and don’t worry too much about imperfections. Instead of slaving away at the kitchen all day, relax and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones.

                        Featured photo credit: Table Dressing/Chris Ford via flickr.com

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                        Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                        Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                        You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                        Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                        1. Work on the small tasks.

                        When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                        Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                        2. Take a break from your work desk.

                        Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                        Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                        3. Upgrade yourself

                        Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                        The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                        4. Talk to a friend.

                        Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                        Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                        5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                        If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                        Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                        Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                        6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                        If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                        Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                        Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                        7. Read a book (or blog).

                        The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                        Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                        Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                        8. Have a quick nap.

                        If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                        9. Remember why you are doing this.

                        Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                        What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                        10. Find some competition.

                        Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                        Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                        11. Go exercise.

                        Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                        Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                        As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                        Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                        12. Take a good break.

                        Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                        Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                        Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                        Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                        More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                        Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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