07/02/2015 12:42 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT

Dust Off Your Patio Furniture and Start Entertaining

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After a long winter stuck indoors, it's time to get outside and start entertaining!

Summer time is what families across Canada (like mine!) long for during the cold winter months -- swimming at the cottage, picnics in the yard and evening dinners together on the patio. Though for many juggling family and a career, finding time to enjoy quality time at home, hosting friends and relatives, can be a challenge.

As an interior design hobbyist, avid hostess and mom of four, I've devised some simple prep, design and clean-up tips to help make alfresco entertaining at home easier -- allowing you to leave a lasting impression on your guests and spend more quality time with the ones you love!

Table Setting:

Make it simple by using one set of white dishes and stemless wine glasses for all of your family and entertaining needs! It'll save you time from constantly organizing dishes and prevents you from having to purchase a new set if something breaks!

White Linens and Towels:

For a simple yet elegant look, use white linens and towels throughout your home. This means that you can mix and match and never have to worry about having the right bedding for a guest room or colour coordination. Add a pop of colour for any season with fresh floral arrangements. Use accent pillows and throws to add pattern and personality to your living space.

Bright Colours:

Bright colours and patterns add life to your space! This season, try mixing contrasting colours in deep and vibrant hues to any of your outdoor accessories.

Garden Lighting:

The secret to outdoor lighting is to combine decorative fixtures with simple landscape lighting. Ultimately, the goal is to illuminate the exterior of your home and garden without harsh extremes. All exterior lighting should be warm and welcoming rather than glaring and obtrusive. Garden light features are a great way to add subtle lighting to any outdoor party. Trees should be gently uplit and bushes or garden sculptures can be highlighted with soft warm LED light strips. A water feature can be a lot of fun to light, especially with the new LED underwater tape lights. These can be found at your local home improvement store and are a relatively inexpensive way to create intimacy for the summer season.

A Well Dressed Table:

There are plenty of reasons to gather friends for a backyard party but planning an informal affair often seems too daunting to tackle for even the most experienced hostess. But don't let summer entertaining overwhelm you. Outdoor fabrics can give instant ambience to any space by adding vibrant colours and patterns. Although traditionally used for chair cushions, outdoor fabrics make fabulous options for all-weather table coverings that are easily wiped clean and washing machine safe.

Prep and Clean-up:

One of the biggest time-drainers of entertaining at home is the prep and clean-up. The trick to freeing up your time is to use versatile cleaning products like OxiClean™ to keep your family and home looking its best all summer long.


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