With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner it’s time to kick off the best entertaining season of them all – summer. Here are my top tips to make sure your summer entertaining is relaxed as you are after a glass of rose.
1. Plan ahead. Duh, right? This seems to be the most basic concept at all and yet there are so many people I know that are scrambling the day before and the day of. If you know you are hosting a get together in a week, start seriously thinking about it on Monday.
2. Set your menu – and write it out. With ideas for food, drinks, guests etc, all floating around in your head no wonder you feel overwhelmed! Write (or type if you’re a typer) out how many you’ll be serving, what your menu is, and what errands you need to run. Then, cross of as you go. By the end of the week shoot for 80% complete. The day of most parties I end up with very little to do aside from pick out what summer dress I’ll be wearing and figure out a way to sneak in a pedicure.
3. Prepare food ahead of time or grill. This summer dish is perfect in every way if you don’t want to cook or grill in front of guests. It’s beautiful. If you’re grilling, plan it out. For instance I will be serving 3 different meats on the grill this weekend and I also want grilled vegetables. That’s a lot to put on M to grill, so, I will grill vegetables the morning of so they are out of the way.
4. Signature summer cocktail. Who’s with me? Pour me one of these, ASAP.
5. Big jug of water, full, prior to guests arriving. Have you ever tried to fill a huge pitcher during a party? It seems to take practically an hour. Get it done early. Bonus if there are lemon & lime slices floating on top.
6. Ice. You can never have enough. Fill your water pitcher and glasses to the brim. Apparently Burger King sells the BEST (and cheapest) bags of ice. Oh yes, there are various levels of ice. Thanks to Jeff and Catherine for this tip!
7. I’m convinced drinks are just more fun if they are served in mason jars. I refuse to have a cocktail any other way.
8. Make your summer playlist. Topping ours? Well, we each have a selection. B’s song is ‘Ho Hey’ by the Luminers. L loves ‘Chicken Fried.’ M is digging ‘Stay’ by Rihanna and I’m going old school with ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beetles. The best playlist mixes it up and ours seems to naturally do exactly that.
9. Hit up TJ Maxx or similar stores for paper plates and napkins that are cute – not cheesy. They often have Kate Spade and other adorable brands.
10. Dress the part. We almost always entertain with the kids, so, I’m in flats (or barefoot which negates that pedicure) and a very breezy dress. Maxi’s are awesome as they have a bit of elegance to them but still fit the relaxed vibe. (I will be living in this). A hostess running around in heels just makes me uncomfortable to watch.
11. Flowers. Locals, if you can pull it off and get them from Piscaw Gardens in Woodstock – GO. It is beyond worth the drive. There are sold at the farmers market on Tuesday & Saturday there. If you can’t, keep the relaxed feel with bunches of wildflowers picked from around your neighborhood or your local farmers market. Keep them off the dining tables though – no scent by your delicious food!
12. Take this cookie recipe, use 2 TBS cookie dough for each cooking, up the cooking time by 2 minutes and bake away. Once cool, put vanilla ice cream between two cookies and you have homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches that are out of this world.
13. Have a bucket of water balloons filled and ready to go. For kids and adults. I’m just saying…
14. Realize that you can’t control the weather. It just helps on so many levels to accept that.
15. Pre slice (if needed) any hot dog or hamburger buns you are using. Saves a lot of time.
16. Relax. That’s the whole point right? I promise if you follow the above come party day you’ll so be that hostess that just nails it.
Happy summer planning my friends!