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Most people look forward to family gatherings and neighborhood barbecues in the warmer months. It’s easy to idealize the warm sun, cool breeze, beautiful serving dishes, delicious food, and fun. But what about those other parts? The less-than-ideal aspects like flies, sunburns, rain, and boredom? This guide will help you avoid these common pitfalls in planning and hosting an outdoor party.


We’ve all experienced the discomfort of walking through a serving line and swatting flies away from the serving dishes before carefully scooping around where the fly was sitting. It’s unpleasant, it’s unhealthy, it’s unceasing. So what can you do?

Let’s get one thing out of the way from the get-go: citronella candles won’t work.

Yes, they show up on every “tips and tricks” list out there, and it’s not completely inaccurate, but there are more effective solutions to employ. There are some studies that indicate citronella oil can help, but most candles don’t have much of the oil in them (if any at all). So they may look and smell nice, but they won’t really stop your fly and mosquito problems. 

Here’s what will help:

  • Use oil diffusers with real citronella oil
  • Create makeshift lids or use serving dishes that come with lids
  • Build beautiful mason jar luminaries with pretty florals, a candle, lemon slices, lavender, and oils (citronella, peppermint, etc.) floating in the water
  • Invest in several table fans for serving and dining areas (flies can’t fly against the wind, and it keeps your guests cool!)
  • Offer bug spray at the entryway of the event for people to apply in an open area
  • Try the penny trick and put pennies in a water-filled sandwich bag hanging nearby or set glass cups of water with pennies at the bottom on the tables (more on that in our resources section!)


Something we don’t talk about often, but we certainly experience, is the precarious nature of messy food and summer clothes. Light-colored and airy summer clothes are excellent for staying cool on hot days, but they aren’t a great mix with food spills. The solution?

Stop the worry and caution altogether and choose foods that don't cause as much mess if they do fall on someone. Parents won’t be worried about their children’s clothes, attendees won't be worried about their new summer dress, AND it makes clean-up easier after the party is over. Win-win-win!


Depending on where you live, the weather can be unpredictable--making it hard to plan and enjoy an outdoor event. Maybe the rain decides to pour at the last second, maybe the blazing sun is making your party guests miserable.

Some ways to combat that include:

  • Setting up a tent/canopy - it doubles as shade and protection from the elements
  • Offering sunscreen at the entrance for guests to apply
  • Providing handheld fans for guests to use (bonus: it doubles as a way to bat flies away)


If your gathering is scheduled for 4 pm or later, plan on the time flying by and needing light. Get creative with your options - throw fairy lights in the trees and on the tables as decorative runners. If you have a fire pit, light a campfire and make s'mores (bonus: flies and mosquitos don't like smoke!).


It can be difficult to enjoy time in deep conversation with loved ones when your kids are constantly coming up and expressing boredom. Prepare in advance with a bubble machine and water balloons!

An arts and crafts station with crayons is also a fun way to allow kids to entertain themselves (But avoid markers!).


Okay, hear us out on this one. It's tempting to default to plastic tables, disposable serving dishes, and paper plates when setting up for a gathering. It's an easy clean-up, after all.

But it's hard to dress them up, it's not great for the environment, and your plates will misbehave in the wind.

Consider ditching the plastic and have a go at thrifted DIY projects:

Create tables out of wood palettes - you can make them the height of regular tables or keep them low and provide pillows and blankets for seating to enjoy a boho vibe.

Upcycle an entryway table or dresser from the thrift store to serve food on. Stain it, paint it, change the door knobs, and have fun with it! It looks classy and doubles as storage, so you're not having to constantly go in and out and in and out for supplies.

(Image above photographed by Sarah Busby, posted on HGTV Home)

As for dishes, add flair to your existing collection with Euro Ceramica dishware. Our collections are curated with quality in mind. Serving dishes are made with lighter material to ensure ease of passing from one person to another, and regular dishes are made with a heavier material to ensure long-term quality for everyday use.


Learn more about the penny trick.

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