If you’re planning a spring-themed party, celebrating warmer weather and dusting off the grill, you’ll want to make sure that you serve appropriate food and drinks. You obviously won’t be serving hot cocoa and chili, but what will you be serving?

A few things come to mind automatically, when you think of spring and spring parties. Cucumber sandwiches, melon balls, lemonade, and iced tea are just a few examples of these. Here, we’ll give you a little bit of insight into some variations on these themes that will be huge hits at your next gathering.

Think About Presentation and Refrigeration

First, though, here’s a little warning. If you’re serving food outside, don’t serve anything that will spoil under the warm sun, unless you’re prepared to keep them cool. If items need refrigeration, make sure that you have them nestled in ice and that you check on your ice buckets and trays often. No one wants sweaty, spoiled cheese and buckets of dirty water sitting on the buffet platter.

By the same token, you won’t want to serve items that need to be extremely hot, either. Caterers get away with this by using expensive equipment, generators, and/or portable gas ovens. If you don’t have all of that, you won’t want to serve hot foods on your buffet.

Light Refreshments

Spring is a time to feel light, warm, and breezy. Don’t serve heavy foods that people associate with winter and keeping warm on a cold night. Instead, err on the side of fruit and veggie platters, finger sandwiches (remember those cucumber sandwiches we mentioned earlier?), nuts, and crackers.

Your guests aren’t coming for a big sit-down meal. They’re here to enjoy your garden, back patio, or lawn in the warmth of a spring day. They’re here to celebrate opening the windows and putting away winter coats. Don’t bog them down with heavy foods.

Salads are always a great buffet item, too. If you want to add a little bit of protein to the mix, make a Thai beef salad or a chicken Caesar. Either way, remember to keep them refrigerated until you take them to the table, and keep them on ice while they’re out.

Soft Drinks and Cocktails

You can find recipes for lemonade and iced tea inspired cocktails online with a quick Google search. Blow up the proportions on your favorite of these, and you’ll have the makings of a punch bowl of refreshing cocktails. We love mojitos, margaritas, and sangria for outdoor springtime parties. If you haven’t noticed yet, the theme of all of these foods and drinks is light, refreshing, and/or fruity.

We recommend that you also include soft drinks, lemonade, or iced teas that aren’t spiked with alcohol, too, and that you make sure they’re clearly marked. This way, no one’s kids will accidentally get into the adult beverages, and you’ll have something for the designated drivers to sip on, too. You want to make sure that you welcome everyone the way you’re welcoming spring and warm weather.

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