A One-Stop Guide to Easy Summer Entertaining

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Beach Towels make great table clothes! Vintage anything is always fun, the plates used are vintage. Tupperware makes transporting food easy. For easy clean up plastic utencils are just the thing.

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Nerwork, G.P. All rights Reserved

Marshall Troy, 2012,Television Food Nerwork, G.P. All rights Reserved

From afternoon pool parties to late nights spent gathered around the fire pit, summer's all about alfresco entertaining. But between planning the menu, deciding how much food to purchase for your guests and setting the table — not to mention cooking the food — seasonal bashes can quickly become overwhelming for the host. Thanks to Food Network's Grilling Central, however, and go-to entertaining resources like a party calculator, tabletop tips and crowd-pleasing recipes, you'll be guaranteed to pull off effortless and enjoyable soirees all summer long.

The key to easy entertaining is preparedness, and whether you're hosting a few relatives or the whole neighborhood, it's best to have plans for the days ahead of the bash and for the gathering itself. Once you've picked out your recipes, it's time to shop for them. How much food to buy depends on what you'll be serving. Check out this easy-to-follow party calculator to learn what to expect in terms of how your guests will approach the food and drinks.

Food Network Kitchen explains, "The more [food] options you have, the less you need of each." For main dishes, adults will likely eat anywhere from 6 to 8 ounces of protein, and with sides like pasta salad, you can plan on having enough to serve 1 cup per person. When it comes to summer sippers, "guests will consume 2 drinks in the first hour, and 1 drink every hour after that," according to Food Network Kitchen. It's best to have a mix of alcoholic beverages available to suit everyone's tastes.

Whatever kind of get-together you're hosting, you'll want the tablescape to match: either formal and sit-down-style or relaxed and buffet-based. The table at the top is bright and takes advantage of plastic utensils and plates.

For a buffet, offer pre-bundled silverware (pictured above), so guests can easily manage their plates in their hands.

Core Bamboo Plates

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Nerwork, G.P. All rights Reserved

Marshall Troy, 2012,Television Food Nerwork, G.P. All rights Reserved

Fresh herbs and soft-colored florals (pictured above) add a touch of elegance to a garden soiree.

Check out the Barbecue Party Calculator, and browse more tabletop ideas to get inspired before your next summer event.

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