Anticipate these faux pas so they don't happen to you.
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Woman hosting outdoor dinner party
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Winter parties present their share of hosting concerns—weather that delays the caterers, icy walkways, where to hang guests' coats and stack their boots—but summer parties are also rife with chances for an unprepared host to make some big mistakes. "Hosting an event in the summer months provides opportunities and challenges," says Michiel Perry, the founder of Black Southern Belle. "The warm, sunny weather is a perfect time for outdoor entertaining, but it's crucial to keep health and safety top of mind." Plan ahead to avoid these three mistakes.

Don't serve a too-heavy menu.

You may not mind standing over a steamy grill all afternoon, but consider whether your guests want to eat hot food as the temperatures rise. "Keep the menu cool with light dishes, infusing as much fresh and chilled food as possible, using local, seasonal ingredients," says Perry. Try a main course summer salad for a refreshing alternative to burgers.

Planning an extensive menu of drinks—both alcoholic and not—is also critical. "In the summer heat, it's essential to keep your guests hydrated, especially when serving cocktails," says Perry. "I love to create a hydration station with a selection of infused water in carafes to make it more festive and enticing."

Don't forget to check the weather.

If you're hosting outside, have a plan for rain—either space inside to host your entire guest list, or an alternate date in case of bad weather—but also prepare for blazing sun and extreme heat. "You should have enough outdoor umbrellas and even personal parasols to ensure guests' comfort in the hottest part of the day," says Perry. "Mini fans that blow misted water also make practical party favors to keep your guests cool. I also suggest investing in an outdoor AC unit, if you plan on hosting multiple times this summer, and placing it in the area with the least shade."

The heat can also wreak havoc on your menu: "Watch your food temperatures and how long food stays out in the sun," says Perry. "And always buy double the ice you need."

Don't procrastinate on your preparation.

Perry recommends putting as much of your event together ahead of time as possible—which gives you the chance to sip a cool cucumber drink with your friends instead of working up a sweat as you attend to all those last-minute details. "Enjoy more time with your guests by preparing your food and drinks in advance," says Perry. "Mix a batch of signature cocktails to avoid playing bartender all night, and place your drinks and menu items throughout the party to ease guests' access and avoid high traffic areas."

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