Have you been invited to a pool party or barbecue? Going on a picnic? Heading for the lake as a guest on a boat? Grab that tote, throw in the sunscreen, mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer/wipe-ups, towels, and you’re ready to roll.
Wait, wait, wait … don’t forget your manners. Just because you’ll be alfresco doesn’t mean you need to be etiquette-less.
A few reminders:
Ask what you can bring. The host of a picnic or barbecue might have a specific theme or menu in mind. If you’re hosting, be sure to have suggestions ready. A dear friend of ours said, “Please just tell me what to bring. I’m willing to make anything, if someone will give me an idea. I hate having to think up something.”
Of course, it helps to know your peeps … some like to surprise everyone with the latest gourmet dip. (See the The Pioneer Woman’s Fresh Corn Salsa my daughter made for our last pool party.)
Bring your food ready to serve, unless it’s absolutely necessary to prepare it right before serving. Don’t impose on your hostess the need for space and tools. Some kitchens are small and it’s hard to move around or find implements with the “hang out and visit” crowd hovering about (think kitchen galley on a boat). It’s also nice to bring the serving utensils necessary for your particular dish: a big spoon or salad tongs. Others might have forgotten and the hostess may not have enough extras for everyone.
Hint: Label your utensils and dishes in case you forget them when you leave. Your host can easily identify the owner. I once discovered a casserole dish … two years later … that I had left at a 4-H potluck. If I’d labeled it, someone could have contacted me.
Be generous; bring enough for your family and more to share. A family of five arriving with a solitary bag of chips looks suspiciously like “mooching.”
If you have special dietary needs, bring what you need; don’t expect others to know. And make enough for others to sample. My mother, in her octogenarian years, has become a vegetarian. Fortunately, she isn’t finicky and there’s an abundance of whatever she’s cooked up.
Ask if you can come a little early to help set up or offer to stay and help clean up. Extra hands make the workload lighter. I especially love hosting an event when I know my grown children will be there. They read my mind and are experts at sensing what needs to be done. Could be because we spent so many years working together on the ranch – you have to anticipate what comes next – not a lot of time for explanations and verbal communication when there’s a herd of cows needing immediate attention.
Be mindful of how much you pile on your plate; there is someone in line behind you. You can always go back for seconds.
And for goodness sake, no double dipping! Put that dip on your plate and scoop from there. Help your children learn and practice the no double dipping rule.
For water events, bring your own towels. Your host probably has a few extras, but maybe not enough for everyone.
If the event isn’t at home or in a designated picnic area, please bring trash bags and clean up your area.
- Of course, in public settings or at a friend’s home, please:
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Keep from imposing your music on neighboring outdoor enthusiasts.
- Refrain from using foul language.
- Be sure to thank your host before leaving. A handwritten thank-you note after the event is much appreciated.
And if your mind isn’t reeling with Do’s and Do Not’s, check out this video clip for some hints I haven’t mentioned:
Happy outdoor living!
Kathryn Barker has never met a child, a tea, or a baby animal she didn’t love. With her sweet husband of 43 years, she has raised three extraordinary children, doctored all manner of farm animal, driven a team of horses, made soap, spun wool and opened a tea room. An avid photographer, Kathryn has had tea in a ger in Mongolia, viewed the Three Gorges Dam in China and waved to the Queen of England. She maintains a tea booth at the Oregon St. Antique Mall. Visit her at tea4kate.com or on Facebook and Twitter at tea4kate.
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