6 tips for hosting the perfect outdoor dining experience at your cottage

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The best outdoor gatherings are casual and relaxing, where you’re spending time with close family and good friends—not swatting away mosquitos and slathering on the DEET. Follow these tips to make the most of entertaining al fresco at the cottage, minus any uninvited guests.

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Plan a menu that respects the setting

Aim for dishes that suit the occasion, like handheld appetizers, barbecued mains, and fresh, healthy sides. And if you have more guests than seats, remember that no one wants to slice steak while standing.

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Create conversation zones

Put drinks and desserts in two different spots to encourage guests to explore the best of the outdoors.

Ensure plenty of seating

Seat cushions, throw pillows, and blankets are handy to keep everyone comfortable for the evening when the temperature dips.

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Keep mosquitos away

Place Thermacell’s stylish Patio Shield Repellers wherever you’re serving food or expecting groups to mingle to create a 15’x15′ zone of protection. It’s a scent free, no spray way to keep mosquitoes away. 

Light the night

Make sure you’ve got enough light—solar is handy for cottage decks—in place to create atmosphere and keep the party going.

Raise the bar

An open-lidded cooler is fine for the beach, but for an outdoor gathering, class things up with a different approach. A rustic washtub or planter makes a perfect ice bucket for drinks. Just be sure to dump the ice when the evening’s done—standing water can attract mosquitos.

Photo by jiraphoto/Shutterstock

We all love sitting out into the wee hours of the morning chatting and sipping a drink or two, but none of us like waking up with mosquito bites the next day—or worse, getting forced to move the party inside due to bugs. Skip the citronella candles and invest in a zone repellent system that actually works, like Thermacell’s Radius Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller, which provides a 4.5m zone of protection from mosquitoes.