Celebrate the warmer days by hosting an outdoor summertime party or barbecue. It's easy to add pizzazz to an outdoor party and stay on budget, with accessories and color.
Here are some inexpensive ways to add character to your outdoor get-togethers:
1. Make it colorful. For a fast way to give your party a sense of style, color-coordinate your bowls, plates and cups in attention-grabbing colors. Dollar General stores (www.dollargeneral.com) sell plastic tableware in bright colors and patterns. These items are inexpensive enough to buy in multiples, so if you plan on hosting several parties, you can use one color per occasion, then invite guests to your "pink party" or "orange party."
2. Pep up your decor with peppers. Add a memorable touch by serving condiments or finger foods in hollowed-out green, red and yellow peppers. Simply cut the stems, and fill the peppers with ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce or any other condiment. Depending on the peppers' colors, you may be able to coordinate them with the rest of your tableware.
3. Create a field of dreams. Silk flowers can create a beautiful centerpiece or be used in smaller arrangements around the table. Add a whimsical touch by purchasing a variety of silk flowers and planting them upright in the ground. Use them to mark paths through the yard or to the food tables and seating areas. Silk flowers are inexpensive at stores like Dollar General and are economical enough to buy in large quantities. They're also more durable than real flowers and can be used again and again.
4. Find unique ways to deter bugs. Certain herbs and flowers repel insects. For instance, sprigs of parsley or tansy may help keep ants at bay, while lavender or mint could drive flies away. Set up decorative bowls of herbs in various spots near the guests' seating. A larger bowl can be the striking centerpiece of a table. Keep your food safe from unwanted company with mesh food covers.