7 Essential Tips for the Best Outdoor Summer Parties Ever!

493317904_51952aefc5_bIt’s officially summer, which means it’s time to get outside, soak up the sun, and enjoy everything the season has to offer! What better way to do that than with a fun summer party with all of your friends and family?

Check out our 7 essential tips to help you host an amazing outdoor party this year!

Spread the Word – While you don’t have to send physical invitations if you don’t want to (but please feel free if you do because, well, it’s fun!), make sure your guests know what’s going on. Tell them when you’ll be eating (say, between 6 and 7 p.m.), let them know if they should bring their swimsuits, and tell them what to expect if it rains (game night inside, anyone?!).

Provide Enough Seating – Check out your outdoor furniture. Do you have enough seats to accommodate your guests? If not, it’s time to get creative! Grab picnic blankets, lawn chairs, stools, and anything else that might serve as seats. Renting can also be a surprisingly feasible (and stress-free) option if you’re planning a big-time bash!

Dazzle with Ambient Lighting – Don’t let the party stop once the sun sets! Just add a little ambient lighting to keep your guests in the light. Hang strings of lights on the deck, on tree branches, or even on your fence. Add tea lights, globe string lights, and hurricane lanterns to give your party a warm, inviting glow. This will help your guests navigate their way around outside once nighttime arrives!

Keep Mosquitoes at Bay – Mosquitoes can put a damper on any party. Don’t let them stop you! Just attack their weaknesses. Get rid of any standing water the week before the party, and offer guests any bug spray or bug wipes when they arrive. Also, mosquitoes aren’t very good flyers, so plug in some fans around seating areas and the food to keep the little bugs at bay!

Cover Food Strategically – You may have other insects to contend with than mosquitoes during the summer months. Make sure to cover up any food, including appetizers, salads, and desserts with glass domes and cake stand covers to keep the bugs away (and preserve the food’s freshness). Your guests will thank you!

Stay Cool – Don’t let the heat keep you indoors! You can beat the heat with handheld fans like classic accordion fans or battery-powered fans. You can also create homemade ice-cold compresses by purchasing inexpensive washcloths, rolling them up with a rubber band, and tossing them in a cooler of ice.

Make a Killer Playlist – Who doesn’t love music at a party? Create a fun playlist of party-friendly music that will last for 5 or 6 hours. Choose classics and toss in a few newer tunes here and there to keep your guests dancing. Remember, don’t blare the music – you’ll want your guests to be able to hear each other easily when they talk!

What tips do you have for a successful summer party? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Turn Your Backyard into an Exotic Paradise with a Koi Pond!

25074502855_f8441cf1e7_bAre you tired of staring out at the plain stretch of grass in your backyard? Feeling fresh out of ideas for increased curb appeal? If you’re looking for something unique and fun to do with your yard, a koi pond could be a great addition to your property!

A koi pond will take some work and know-how to start, complete, and maintain, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort. Here’s how you can get started with creating your exotic water garden:

Find the Perfect Spot – First, look around your yard and find the perfect spot for your koi pond. You’ll want to have enough room for these fish to swim in, and you’ll also want to opt for a shadier location since it will keep the water temperate for the fish and keep algae at bay. A good rule of thumb is to plan for a surface area of 50+ square feet for your exotic water garden.

Gather the Necessary Materials – Next, you’re going to need the right materials to help get the job done. We recommend putting sand, a polyvinyl chloride liner, an aquarium sealant, spray-foam insulation, and a water pump on your list. These items will help give you a great koi pond. Worry about acquiring your fish later.

Start Digging – Now it’s time to start digging! Aim for a depth of at least 2 feet, if not more, to help give your fish enough room to move around and to keep any predators like raccoons at bay. Of course, it doesn’t have to be one big pit; you can dig a deeper hole near the middle and keep the sides more shallow to keep the aesthetics more interesting!

Line the Hole – Unfortunately, dirt doesn’t retain water very well. That’s why you’ll need sand and a polyvinyl chloride liner to line the hole with! Be sure to line both the bottom and the sides of the hole with 2 inches of wet sand, followed by the polyvinyl chloride liner. Make sure that the liner’s edges extend above ground, too. This, along with using extra pond liner material, an aquarium sealant, and spray-foam insulation, will help ensure that your hole is sealed properly for your koi to enjoy!

Install the Pump Equipment – Don’t let this step worry you! Installing pump equipment isn’t as tough as it sounds. You can often purchase the equipment you need at local pool and pond supply stores, and the equipment should come with installation instructions. You can choose to hide the pump under rocks, beneath plants, or on the side of your house. Want a waterfall? Make sure that you choose a pump that will circulate half the pond’s capacity every hour!

Add Some Landscaping – It’s time to think about the landscaping around your koi pond! Find some beautiful plants, stately rocks, or even some decking to complete the look. Once you have it looking just the way you want it, add water! Just be sure that you check the chemical balance and temperature before you add any fish.

Add the Koi – If your water’s pH and temperature are adequate, then it’s time to add some koi to your pond! These fish are gorgeous and are very fun to feed. If you’d prefer a cheaper option, fancy goldfish are a good choice, too. You can also add snails, frogs, toads, and even a few turtles to your pond – they’ll help control insects and algae in and around the pond!

Keep in mind, if you live in an area that experiences severe winter weather, you’ll want to take your fish inside during the winter. If you live in a milder climate, your fish can live under a foot of ice as long as a pond heater creates a little air hole for them.

Adding a koi pond can really amplify your home’s curb appeal. Learn more tips about how you can put some pizzazz back into your home and yard by reading more of our fun blogs! Got questions about finding your dream home or selling your current home? Call The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298!