Food & Entertaining - Entertaining

Plan the perfect backyard potluck picnic

Beckie Fox
Photography by
Virginia MacDonald

Fun and games, tips and tricks for easy, breezy summer entertaining

Fun and games
Organizing activities for children means adults will be able to relax and have a good time, too. Here are some simple games and projects that will make for a memorable day.

* Give the teenagers (or a creative mom or dad) an assortment of face paints and treat the kids to a session of face painting. If it's Canada Day, use white face paint and draw maple leaves on cheeks and foreheads with bright red lipstick. Or follow the garden theme and make butterfly and spider faces.

* Set up a small table with squares of heavy cardboard, sheets of waxed paper and a few bricks for pressing flowers. Let children select four or five blooms (pansies, daisies and ferns work well) and arrange them between two sheets of waxed paper. Place the cardboard on top and below, then put the “press” on a flat surface and weigh it down with bricks. At the end of the evening, they can take their mementoes home.

* Croquet is a game for all ages and it's easy to set up a course, as long as you have a reasonably level playing surface; precise measurements between stakes are not required.

* Hand out small sketchbooks and boxes of crayons, and encourage children to play artist in the garden. As each sketch is finished, clip it to a line of twine strung along a railing for everyone to admire. (Keep crayons out of the hot sun when not in use.)

* In lieu of white tablecloths, cover tables with white craft paper (be sure to tape the edges) and let children loose with the crayons to make one-of-a-kind tablecloths.

Lawn pick-me-up
If too much foot traffic has left your lawn looking downtrodden, these tips will perk it right up.

1. Use a spring-loaded fan rake to fluff it up.
2. Water well.
3. Aerate the most compacted areas using a core aerator while the soil is still slightly moist—wait a couple of hours after you water.
4. Fertilize with a quality lawn food (appropriate for the season).
5. Replace heavily worn areas with new sod, or top-dress and seed (fall or spring) thin areas.

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