[Can I admit something? My husband and I rarely (read: never) actually make it out of the house on date nights. We used to love driving down the California coast to little beach towns and sitting out on the water at a cafe table to enjoy a nice and quiet meal. Now? Yeah, nice and quiet meals don’t happen too often with a toddler throwing marinara sauce on the floor. But, okay, sure, I’ve read all the articles about how important it is to invest time in your relationship with your partner, even in the throes of mommy hood. Here’s the thing though: traditional date night holds little appeal these days. Between the ever-rising cost of babysitters and the fact that at six months pregnant, I go to sleep promptly at 8 pm, I’m just not really into fine dining. So it occurred to me: why not throw a charming, no stress outdoor dinner on our covered patio using all the stuff we already own? Sounds good to you, too? Keep on reading for five stress-free tips for hosting a summertime dinner, date nights, and friendly gatherings.
Summertime Dinner Tip 1: Repurpose, Reuse, and Recreate
Far too often, I fall victim to “bright and shiny” syndrome. Home Goods? Yeah, that store’s a problem for me. I walk through the aisles, without an agenda or shopping list, admiring everything new and glittery. Before I know it, I’ve convinced myself that I need (need!) that gorgeous handwoven outdoor area rug and the 64-foot string of twinkling fairly lights. Gosh, what a party I could throw if only I owned all these bright and shiny new things. Sound familiar?
When planning an outdoor party, I encourage you (like I encouraged myself) to reuse and repurpose things already owned. That cute little outdoor table in the sunshine? Why not move it to a spot on the patio that’s a little cooler in the evening? Seating, done. China plates for an outside party? Dinnerware, done.
Challenging myself to decorate for an outdoor dinner without actually spending money on decorations forced me to wander around my home and see what I could reuse and repurpose. Okay, granted I bought some cute white mums for our table, but those babies were three bucks from Trader Joes. …Not bad! The rest? All free.
Summertime Dinner Tip 2: Keep It Simple
This tip might be the most controversial one on the list. When it comes to the menu, keep it simple. You may or may not have noticed that I don’t feature recipes on this site. Nope, not a single baked good or simmering dish. Don’t get me wrong: I love food, and I like to cook. But the prospect of whipping up a “fancy” dinner while juggling a toddler? Yeah, that stresses me out. And the whole point of date night is to chill and actually enjoy yourself with your loved ones.
So when it comes to the menu, I encourage you to keep it simple. Rotisserie chicken? Done. (And delicious.) A loaf of french bread? Heck yes. A hunk (honk?) of cheese from the deli? Done. Wine? (In my non-pregnancy days, absolutely.) For now, I grab a bottle of sparkling water and call dinner done.
Summertime Dinner Tip 3: Mind the Weather
Here in the Bay Area, we’re lucky that the weather stays pretty temperate. If I move our little table to a shady spot, our dinner will stay nice and cool. Once the sun dips down, though, it’s always nice to keep a blanket on hand to stay snuggly just in case the weather turns chilly. If you’re planning an outdoor dinner, keep your eye on the temperature and consider keeping some blankets handy. Plus, when friends and family snuggle with blankets at a dinner table, it always lends a cozy vibe to the evening.
Summertime Dinner Tip 4: Control the Bugs
Alright, Y’all: focus in because this might be the most overlooked tip on the list. Bugs. UGH. They can ruin an indoor or outdoor party in a heartbeat. My husband is particularly sensitive to bugs. Not that he’s scared of them, more like annoyed. If there are too many bugs flying around, he can’t really focus on keeping a steady conversation or enjoying his meal. He just starts swatting and the evening kind of ends there.
We’re lucky that our patio area has an electrical outlet nearby so that we could use our Zevo Flying Insect Trap. It’s such a clever little device. You plug it into an outlet, and Zevo traps insects without chemical insecticides, using a blue UV light. Those little mosquitoes, flies, moths and gnats are lured by the light and onto Zevo’s super sticky adhesive! No odors, no sticky mess, no chemical insecticides. Zevo works to continuously attract and eliminate these little flying bugs. Results are typically seen after 24-48 hours of plugging in Zevo so make sure to plan insect control ahead of time.
Using bug control makes being outside on our covered patio so much more pleasant. We actually have a second Zevo in our toddler’s nursery to catch any flying insects that might come inside. Because the product doesn’t use any chemical insecticides, I feel a lot more comfortable having the bug trapper round our baby’s belongings.
I actually need to get another one for the fruit flies that linger near the trashcan in the kitchen. I hate fruit flies. No joke. The best way to use Zevo? Make sure you move it around the home. Location, heat and humidity can affect how many flying bugs you catch. Once one fly is trapped, more will follow its lead. These Zevo traps are affordable and worry-free, and those bugs just love that blue light.
Bottom line? Don’t forget about bugs. Those unwanted guests will ruin your party.
Summertime Dinner Tip 5: Set a Mood
So you have the table set and the meal ready? What’s next? Don’t forget to invite all your senses to play. Light a gorgeous smelling candle and fire up your Pandora playlist for some tunes. Reach across that table and hold your honey’s hand. Ambiance requires a multifaceted approach and hits taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing. And no, you don’t need a fancy restaurant to enjoy the mood. Because honestly, you know what’ll go over best for you and your guests. Hot dogs and country? Sure. Fine wine and classical? Sounds great. Deli sandwiches, lemonade, and 90s hits? Sign me up. Just remember that when you set a mood, consider not just the decor and the meal, but also the sounds and smells that you want to include as well.
So here’s to a no-stress outdoor dinner! Easy, peasy! What tip resonates with you the most? What are you excited to try?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Zevo Flying Insect Trap. The opinions and text are all mine.