Don’t let the rainy days fool you; even now, outdoor activity season steadily approaches. The temperature has spontaneously increased, so much so that I doubt anyone remembers winter as a thing. When the planet is done taking its periodic dip into some giant, cosmic ocean, there will be a moment where we have a limited window for comfortable entertainment before the summer hits and everyone is baked golden by the harsh, South Carolina solar radiation.
In the spirit of late spring, I’ve compiled a short list of outdoor ideas, so you can be the usher of joy and merriment. One that brings disjointed friends and family members around a multi-course meal of potato salad, fried chicken, and more potato salad. I’ve also included some ways to jazz up the events, to keep out the ‘family reunion’ kind of vibe. Set out some freshly cut flowers, get that prototype Spotify playlist ready, and hit the yardwork because we are getting into four ideas that will make you Spring royalty!
I know it seems a little old fashioned, but don’t hate on the pot luck quite yet. From the time of the caveman, human beings have congregated around food. It was the grease that oiled the story-telling machine; the lubricant that invited conversation among people who enjoyed similar tastes. There is a reason why so many social organizations have the potluck as the go-to indoor and outdoor catering event.
The major perk is that it keeps you from having to foot the bill for all that food: an easy, socially-acceptable way to reduce outdoor activity costs! In all seriousness, food is a major part of the gathering and there are quite a few things to keep in mind like food allergies, quantities, and preferences; it makes the entire affair astronomically more complicated if you were to cook and serve by yourself. The best way, to circumvent this is to organize a potluck. Everyone brings something they enjoy and can handle (gastrointestinally, that is).
The Fire Pit
Fire is mesmerizing and entertaining all by itself. It is the fire of Prometheus, as the Greeks believed, that sparked all human technology and innovation. The fire is also the reason why, according to the mythology, we’re all doomed to die.
It’s a tradeoff.
Bring the glory and inspiration of the flame to your party or social gathering! As you can see from the hundred or so Facebook pictures of your friends with fire pits, it is not a difficult contraption to make. If Billy, who in sixth grade ate an entire box of crayons (64 pack, mind you), can build an elegant fire pit, you can too. Check with the local fire department (and learn some safety) in your county before you start burning things outdoors willy-nilly, but generally the construction is safe; make sure that you clear the area and build the pit in an open space, away from structures.
Filling the bottom with river rocks would make you look cool and classy. Keep a pack of marshmallows and hot dogs nearby, and it will be a hit. If you’re making smores, I like my burnt! Watching the fire disappear as the party unwinds is a transcendent experience.
Aside from the food, entertainment is another huge/stressful aspect of the gathering that falls squarely on your mighty shoulders. I mean you could have everyone stand around and chat but that starts to get irritating after he third time your neighbor tells you about when his dog got stuck in his privacy fence. I present to you the staple of the cinema experience: the projector.
The device has been around forever and is the only thing trusted to display movies in all their nail-biting, emotionally gripping glory. Without much trouble, you should be able to find someone that can dust off the ole projector in the basement. You can also find them available for rent at an AV store (for $99 or less per day, you can get a decent projector). Tie a huge sheet across some trees, and you are set! Take a poll on what Tarantino movie you’ll be watching; with some entertainment, you’ve just saved yourself from awkward conversations about kids and new jobs.
In the end, this season is about social gatherings by and for the people. Make your next outdoor adventure memorable!