Entertain Friends & Family With an Outdoor Party

Whether it's in your front yard, backyard, on your porch or under a shady tree – entertaining outdoors is the easiest way to gather friends and neighbors together.

The beginning of fall is the perfect time to connect with the people around you. Friends have been busy with the whirlwind of summer. Kids have been away at camp and you may even have new neighbors that you'd like to get to know. Do not wait until next year – there's still plenty of time to plan the party that everyone will be remembering long into winter.

The easier you make your party, the more relaxing and fun it will be. Do not worry about cleaning your house – just mow the grass. If kids knock over their lemonade cups (with the dog's help, no doubt) it's not a big deal because you're outside. Here are a few tips on how to make your fall party go off without a hitch.

* A little organization will help make your party a big success. Tell your guests what you plan on providing when you invite them. A good guest offers to bring something and a good host allows their guests to help. People can bring additional seating, outdoor games like bocce ball, preferred beverages in a cooler and even vacation photos to be passed around.

* As people reply, ask them if they have a special dish they'd like to make. If not, ask for dishes that give your menu a good balance. For instance you could say, "I could use another dessert. Do you have a suggestion?" But quite, resist the urge to micro-manage your guests. If you allow them to bring what they want they will appreciate your flexibility.

* Hope for the best, but expect a few no-shows. Decide ahead of time what you'd be lost without. If the paper plates do not show up, you'll be glad that you have some on hand. Same with condiments and desserts. Keep a few extra supplies in your pantry and in your freezer. You can always use them on other occasions if it turns out you do not need them for this party.

* Getting to know your neighbors is the best way to increase the value and security of your neighborhood. The more you and your neighbors know about each other, the more you are able to keep an eye on each other's homes, pets and possessions. While you're catching up, make time to discuss ways to keep home values ​​strong in your neighborhood, such as working together to beautify neighborhood entrances and common areas.

Remember – this is a party so have fun! Relax about what you can not control. Unlike a formal dinner with name cards, you'll probably find that if only the potato salad and brownies show up to accompany your burgers, you'll still have a great time if you do not let yourself get flustered.