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10 Ways to Start Planning Your SoCal Summer Cookouts Now

Even though the much of the country this year is still thawing out from winter, here in Southern California, it’s time to start thinking about summer! Do you have Memorial Day plans? What about 4th of July? Do you usually host a cookout, but want to kick it up a little this year? What about those spontaneous Saturday nights that you just want to have friends over in your backyard?

Well, sometimes throwing a party seems a lot easier than it really is. Cooking, cleaning, and decorating can take a lot of time, leaving you too exhausted to enjoy your guests. That is why we have put together some food prepping tips as well as some simple decor tricks to help ease your hosting spirit:

1. Keep a big batch of burgers in your freezer. Either buy one large box, or make your own. Just add whatever seasonings you want (go basic with salt and pepper, or throw in paprika and oregano for an extra punch), then form your ground beef into patties. Freeze the burgers individually on a cookie sheet, then place a piece of parchment paper between each patty, and stick them all back in the freezer. Make them thin so you can cook them frozen, or plan on thawing them out the night before your party. Consider making smaller burgers, or sliders, for a more appetizer-friendly party.

2. Meatballs are also a quick and easy summertime party food, and can be stored in your freezer. When the party day comes, just toss them in a crock pot with a jar or two of marinara (enough to cover the meatballs) or use grape jelly and chili sauce for this delicious version.

3. For a non-beef summer entrée, try these chicken Caesar sandwiches. Like the meatballs, these won’t require you to stand at the grill all night.

4. If you plan on having lots of kids around this summer, stock up on sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Almost everyone loves bubbles and chalk, and buying in bulk is always cheaper, so just make one trip now and you should be covered for the summer. Frisbees and water guns are great too, as are rope for tug-o-war, and pool noodles for any of these exciting and easy-to-make outdoor games.

5. Go to your local farmer’s market and purchase cheap produce to have on hand for diffusing in water. Water always feels fancier and more fun when there are cucumbers or strawberries or fresh mint (or all three) floating around in it. You can also use fresh fruits and vegetables for an easy appetizer or side item.

6. Purchase several plastic tablecloths either online or from a dollar store. Also purchase plastic ware, cups, and napkins in bulk. It will be much cheaper this way than buying a package for every party.

7. Freeze a batch of uncooked chocolate chip cookies, the same way you did with those hamburgers, for a quick, easy, delicious party dessert.

8. Hang ropes from trees around your house now, and when it’s party time, hang your decor from them. Make beach ball paper lanterns or hang tiny lanterns from the rope. Use leaves to make a low-budget, but beautiful, addition to your party.

9. For 4th of July, paint stars in the grass. If you don’t want to paint your grass, use the same technique using chalk on the edges of your sidewalk or driveway.

10. Don’t over think. Simplicity can bring a certain beauty to any party. As long as you are having fun, so will your guests.

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