The Ultimate Summer Entertaining Guide

By Elizabeth Roehrig

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Answer Lady
Illustration by James Christoph/

Answer Lady, Barbecue Edition

Our wise and witty etiquette expert takes on your outdoor party dilemmas.

Q. One of our friends tends to drink too quickly and get out of hand. How can I get her to slow down without embarrassing her?
A.Make it a "we" thing. Tell her you're going to have a glass of water between drinks and you're hoping she'll join you. Then just stick one in front of her. Getting food in her stomach will make a difference, too, so fill up her plate with appetizers.

Q. What should I plan to keep the kids busy -- and out of trouble?
A.If you expect more than a few children, and especially if some of them are small, the best solution is to hire a teenager or two to babysit. Then set up fun outdoor games, such as croquet, badminton, and Frisbee, as well as quiet indoor activities (think paper, crayons, board games, and a kid-friendly movie queued up in the DVD player). Trust me, their parents will love you for this.

Q. My brother-in-law is always taking over the BBQ at my parties -- he thinks he's God's gift to the grill. How can I get him to keep his mitts off?
A. Is he messing it up? If not I'd let him do it. But if he's drying out your chicken and charring your burgers (or if you want to do it yourself), kill him with kindness. Say, "why don't you go grab a drink and relax? It's my turn this time." If he argues, stand firm. "Our house, our grill. Your house, your grill. Got it?"

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