Take a Staycation

Tips for outdoor entertaining

Published in the May 2012 Issue Published online: May 14, 2012 Feature Jan Clark
Viewed 279 time(s)

When we are at the lake, ocean, river or our favorite coastal destination we all like to feel like we're on vacation. Relax, relax, relax. In today's economy, with work demands plus airline travel where you may be degraded or groped, have your flight cancelled or have your luggage lost, we're all looking for a hassle-free economic getaway. What I'd like to propose is that this summer you take a staycation. Give one to yourself, your friends and family and make it a memorable evening.

Just be in agreement that you will do the first mystery dinner cruise, but let it become a shared, fun, joint event. This way YOU won't have to be the one doing all the planning and work in the kitchen rather than absorbing the atmosphere, sights, sounds as well as the food and drink as you view the sunset and moon amongst your guests.

If you own a houseboat you are halfway there. If you have some friends who also need a break from their routine, make their day. If they are real friends they will do the same for you; therefore, you get two wonderful experiences!

Pick a theme that depends of course, on the season or your menu for the meal. In Texas we have warm weather the majority of the year and our tradition is to grill or barbecue. In many states your main choice may be seafood, but no matter what your menu, make the most of your outdoor entertaining.

Your choice may be cold cut sandwiches and chips using plastic forks and paper plates for lunch all the way to your best china, crystal and linens for dinner. Remember, the idea is to make your table scape different and make you forget you are on your own boat.

Perhaps you are having seafood for dinner for four. We found fish dishes which are whimsical, but functional. If you look around in thrift stores, garage sales and cannot find a setting for four or six, it's okay to mix and match. Napkins for a good, messy menu of barbecue baby back ribs are thrifty bandanas. They come in all colors and do not show stains and endure many washings.

Your theme may be seashells. This is a very popular theme known as seascapes. In department stores there are numerous items inclusive of shells, candles, placemats and other merchandise whether you want to go plain or fancy.

Remember to not only entertain your eyes with new vibrant eye candy, but also your other senses as well. Music may be your favorite CD or romantic mood music for a more formal atmosphere. Listening to Jimmy Buffet and hearing Margaritaville all day may not be the mood by candlelight you are trying to achieve. Candles set the mood so experiment with your music to fit your purpose and theme. If you are dining and the wind does not allow them to stay lit, party lights never fail. Of course the best natural light is moonlight and you ARE good if you scheduled your evening around a full moon!

If you have access to another boat to transport the guests from the dock to the secret location of the dining experience, it adds even more to the adventure. What is more fun than your guests not knowing where they're going? Try to keep their final destination a secret, but let the valet boat driver be informed, of course. Inquisitive guests just need to know they should wait on the dock, dressed appropriately, and be on time for their adventure to begin. A valet captain picks them up with drinks and appetizers and beautiful romantic music playing as they slowly cruise to the secret destination. Suddenly, they turn into a cove and a beautiful houseboat lit up like a five-star hotel roof top patio appears. A wonderful experience awaits them, and they feel they are on vacation even for just a few hours.

Remember, you do not have to have a huge, new, fancy houseboat to entertain in style-just a vision, some creativity and a few friends. And next time go with a new location and a new theme. Keep them guessing. Be creative and have fun yourself.

If you know a teenager or two who would love to make some cash and are responsible for YOU to relax and enjoy the evening and guests, it's worth it to find them. You might even barter a day on the lake of tubing in exchange for their professional services. Enjoy your staycation every way you can, whenever you can. Life's too short; it's time to relax, relax, relax!

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