By: Nadine Anglin

This Canada Day throw a stylish affair with family, friends and
neighbours. Fire up the grill, pour another cold one, and check out
our ideas to help you throw a fun outdoor soiree on July 1st.

Invitation Ideas

A laid back affair doesn’t call for formal invitations; simply
compile your list of family and friends at least 3 weeks in advance
and start spreading the word. A simple email including directions
and a link to where guests can print off a map to your place (try
maps.google.com or mapquest.com) is all you need. Make sure to
include the neighbours in this affair. It’s a great time to get to
know them and all it takes is a simple “Hey we’re having a BBQ;
you’re invited!” to get people to come out during the summer
season. Make sure to let people know whether or not they can bring
their kids or a guest. Relatives or close friends may want to stay
over after the fete and if you’ve got the space, invite them to do
so—just make sure you’ll be able to accommodate them.

Decorations

It’s very easy to fall into an over-the-top red and white theme,
however, you shouldn’t feel the need to stick to traditional
shades. We spoke to entertaining expert Kim Vallee, editor of the
popular entertaining blog At Home with Kim Vallee, to get some
ideas on how to decorate for a chic Canada Day party.

“Create a twist on the red and white theme by mixing different
shades of greens or a nice aqua as accent colour. Green or aqua
looks stunning in tablecloths and centerpieces,” says Vallee. “For
the dinnerware, I suggest mixing solid white and red plates. Great
visual impact comes from alternating the plate color in each
setting. If you’ve only got white china, you can use red serving
bowls, red napkins or make red the main color of your
centerpieces.”

If you’re going for a more relaxed, beachy theme, Vallee
suggests building it around a typical Canadian cottage. “Birch
candles, logs and branches that are so popular this year are the
stars of this theme. You can use a small galvanized garden bucket
or plant pot to group together flowers. If you’re expecting a lot
of children, they’ll get a kick out of eating on a wooden picnic
table just like at the park. Or you might try simulating a camping
trip by installing a tent in the backyard and creating a picnic
atmosphere for lunch which will keep the young ones extra
happy.â€

Playlist

Get down to some great summer music! Nothing says a summer party
like the sweet stylings of the Beach Boys. Don’t forget to
incorporate some Canuck music into the mix—you’re sure to find
artists of any genre that tickles your fancy, from hip hop to
classic rock. Oh Canada, indeed! Here are a few albums to give a
spin:

“Summer Beach Party” — Compilation

“Biggest Summer Hits” — Compilation

“Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys” — The
Beach Boys

“Legend” — Bob Marley and the Wailers

“2007 Juno Awards” — Compilation

Cocktail and Menu Ideas

Enjoying the outdoor weather means a patriotic flag cake or
maple leaf cupcakes should definitely be on the menu (even if
they’re store-bought). Other desserts to try include summer
classics like ice cream, apple pie and a fresh fruit medley. You
may also want to try picking up a container or two of spiked
sorbet; an alcoholic version of the regular treat that will satisfy
those who love frozen drinks like daiquiris and margaritas. Crisp
ears of summer corn rubbed with black pepper and lime take on a
Mexican guise when roasted over the grill. Ribs and cuts of meat
should be marinated in advance to further enhance their flavour.
Plenty of side dishes like traditional potato salad and macaroni
casseroles are easy to prepare the night before.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the tradition red
meats, Valle suggests lighter fare such as fish. “When I think of
a menu with a Canadian flavour, salmon jumps to mind. You can make
two recipes: one with the Pacific species and the other with
Atlantic salmon. Salmon is easy to cook on the barbeque and is
fantastic when marinated in maple syrup. Serve the fish with a
large salad of grilled vegetables dressed in a simple summer
vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, French shallots, White
vinegar, olive oil and fresh herbs. Grilling red peppers, tomatoes,
zucchini squash and Portobello mushrooms is a winner for outdoor
parties as well.â€

Beer at your Canada Day event is crucial. Take the extra
initiative to round up actual beer glasses and place them in the
freezer just before your guests arrive for an extra cool and
refreshing drink. Have a few imported beers on hand to supplement
the domestic majority of the batch.

Plastic cutlery and dishware is perfectly fine at a BBQ (in
fact, it’s usually expected). You may opt for regular cutlery
instead of the plastic kind, especially if you’ll be serving
anything that’s difficult to cut such as steak or pork chops. Make
sure to set up a large garbage bin or two to discard plastic and
paper dinnerware or your guests will awkwardly leave empty dishes
and cups around the yard!

Party Activities

It wouldn’t be Canada Day without the fireworks, but it’s
important to keep safety in mind when using them. Here are some
tips to keep in mind:

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting
    fireworks
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the
    house, dry leaves, and flammable materials
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully
    functioned
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of a malfunction or
    fire

If you’re going to be entertaining children as well as adults,
make sure to give the young ones something to do as well. Picking
up a soccer ball or two will keep them occupied for hours. Hoola
hoops never go out of style—they’re extremely inexpensive and
children (of all ages) love giving them a swirl. For the adults,
keep a set of cards and chips on hand for impromptu games of
late-summer “high-stakes” poker. If you can swing it, you may even
consider setting up a projector or TV for a late evening movie
viewing under the stars.

Party Favours

If you want to send your guests off with a sweet reminder of the
day, Vallee has this suggestion: “Giving guests a herb plant in a
cute pot is a fabulous summer party favour. You can grow two herbs
such as parsley and lemon thyme in a starting pot and then insert
into a trapezoid votive holder or a small Masson jar. Fill the
sides with red sand as the finishing touch. Lemon-thyme smells
fantastic!â€

For more
information please visit HGTV.ca