All winter long, Canadians dream of getting away to the cottage, savouring long afternoons on the dock and splashing in a crisp, clear lake. Make the most of your long-awaited weekend away with these helpful prep tips so you can enjoy each and every moment. We’ve got ideas for everything from planning your meals (with some easy food and beverage ideas) to making the most of inclement weather.
Divide and Conquer…
…the meal planning, that is! Map out the entire weekend’s worth of meals and assign different meals to different guests so you’re not the one stuck in the kitchen all weekend. Either have them bring their ingredients or give their lists to you so you can shop for the entire weekend all at once. If they’re bringing ingredients, make sure to ask them to remove all excess packaging to reduce the garbage and waste you’ll have to deal with at the end of the weekend.
Plan Ahead, and Make Ahead
When you’re trying to maximize cottage relaxation time, choose recipes that can be prepped in advance, ensuring maximum relaxation time for you (and your guests!) Even better, choose dishes you can batch prepare so there’s enough for leftovers. Stuck for ideas? Here are some make-ahead dishes that will make your life easier and your weekend way more relaxing!
For those days you spend a lot of time in the sun, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking a variety of liquids. Keep lots of drinks on hand, chilled in ice-filled coolers around the cottage, so you and your guests can quench your thirst whenever you need. Try offering fresh summer fruit like raspberries, strawberries, wild blueberries and lemon slices for your guests to add.
Stock up on Essentials
Make sure you have enough plates, cutlery, napkins and glassware for everyone (and if space permits, bring extras so you don’t necessarily need to do a load of dishes after each meal if you don’t feel like it). If you’re using disposable plates and cutlery, look for biodegradable choices. Wine charms are a good idea for glassware so you’re reusing the same glass more than once. Other items you might want to take stock of include on your list: paper towels, toilet paper and garbage bags.
Expect the Unexpected…
… in terms of weather. Sure, we all hope that a cottage weekend will involve plenty of outdoors time with lots of sun but sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. Make sure you have a range of indoor activities (think: board games and cards) to keep everyone occupied even when the sun is not shining. Ask guests to bring a favourite game of their own if your selection is not that large.
Set Some Ground Rules
Just as you’ve planned a meal schedule, assign people to clean-up. That way, everyone takes the responsibility for those less popular jobs, so dock and downtime is shared equally.
Make Use of the BBQ
If the weather is good, make use of the barbecue for at least one meal per day. Outside meal prep cuts down on mess indoors and it’s also very social. Enjoy happy hour with the rest of the crew as you prepare dinner. Looking for some grilling inspiration?Look no further.
Organize your Garbage and Make Sure Everyone Know the Rules
Garbage and recycling are handled a little differently in cottage country so make sure your guests know what garbage goes where. If everyone contributes their little bit, not only is it better for the environment, but clean-up at the end of the weekend will be much easier for you.
And encourage your guests to make themselves at home too! Once you’ve organized yourself and your guests and covered everything from the food and drinks to the recycling, there’s nothing more to do than sit back and enjoy the sunshine. That little bit of advance planning will be appreciated by everyone and go a long way to making sure everyone (even the hosts!) has a great time.