How to Host a Critter-Free Outdoor Party

Eager to keep unwanted 4-legged guests from crashing your next outdoor party?

While you may enjoy catching a glimpse of wildlife from time to time, that doesn't mean you're keen to put them on the invite list for your outdoor party. That's why, long before friends, family, and neighbors gather in your yard, you'll want to put a plan in place to keep critters from crashing the party.

Wild animals are continually on the hunt for food and water, which is one reason they may show up uninvited to your next outdoor shindig. After all, where there's an outdoor party, there are snacks. And like partygoers, rabbits, squirrels, deer, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, and skunks are drawn to the smell of food.

So what's the solution? Short of making everyone eat and drink indoors, the next best thing is to make the party desirable to guests and undesirable to wildlife. Here are 5 ways to do just that.

1. Tidy up. Clean up yard debris, mow your lawn, trim vegetation up off the ground and away from structures, and get rid of junk piles so wildlife have fewer places to hide—and to create a welcoming environment for your guests. Adding a motion-activated light may also help, especially if your outdoor party is at night. Place the light close to the edges of your yard or wherever wildlife may enter.

2. Make some noise. Pure and simple, wild animals don't like loud noises. Obviously, you have to respect the neighbors (so you don't want to get too loud), but playing music and having lively conversation can be a deterrent.

3. Discourage them.

Counter all of those delicious food aromas with a scent that your guests won't mind but most wildlife will detest. Set out pots of aromatic herbs (like mint, rosemary, and sage) around the deck, patio, or other party space. Better yet, try a no-stink repellent like

Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Ready-To-Use. This long-lasting, rain-resistant spray contains essential oils that rabbits, squirrels, and groundhogs detest. They flat-out don't like the smell or taste of this stuff!

4. Remove temptation. Store food inside until it's time to serve, then be sure to keep serving dishes covered. When putting food outside for guests to enjoy, make sure to keep it out of reach of ground animals. Of course, you'll also want to clean up spills and crumbs as you go, and put leftovers in airtight containers that you store indoors.

5. Get rid of post-party evidence. Remember, raccoons and squirrels are always looking for tasty morsels and will help themselves to anything that's unprotected—including your trash. When the party's over, dispose of all food-related trash, including pieces of aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Be sure to secure all trash can lids, too.

Now's there's just one thing left for you to do: Party on!

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