8 Tips for Your Easy Summer Parties
Friends, do you agree? I think Summertime is the best time for entertaining because there’s not as much pressure as the family shindigs that happen in November and December. Summer BBQs, picnics, birthday parties and casual get-togethers are the mainstays of summer, and that’s one reason we love summer, right?
I have never really considered myself good at entertaining per se, though I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for almost a decade and I’ve done a party for my best girl’s birthday every year. My mom thinks I’m a “good hostess” and that makes me smile yet somehow I never really took on the idea of being “good at entertaining.”
Maybe it’s my low-key persona, and my avoidance of being in the center of attention that makes me cringe at the thought of entertaining others because that calls to mind a lot of active work and outpouring of energy. It sounds exhausting really, just as it is to have to entertain your children when they’re bored.
This past weekend, I invited my sister and kids and my mama to brunch. The kids just got back from a month of sleep-away camp and we missed them! I couldn’t wait to see how tall they got from all that outdoor activity and sun! I swear kids are like plants; they always grow from all the time in the water and sun!
Let Us Entertain You
Because I’ve never fully embraced the “entertaining” role, whenever I have guests over I always seem to be missing the useful serving pieces that those who have taken on entertaining have! But no more! From here on out, I’m embracing the “E” word and I’m gonna be serving folks up right at my get-togethers! We can be whatever kind of hostess we want to be, right?
From my perspective, there are some things that every hostess needs in her arsenal to ensure that her table looks pretty and put together. (Helpful reminder: I don’t claim to rival Emily Post in table etiquette nor to be an expert entertainer, and you should always feel like you are in control of your fete without fretting or comparing yourself to others.)
Make it Easy
The name of the hostess game is that you want your guests to feel comfortable (duh!) and you want to take away any opportunity for them to feel awkward or clumsy while at your home. Here’s an example what I mean: Sunday’s brunch had smoked salmon on the menu. I got a lovely looking wild sockeye salmon from Trader Joe’s and it was pre-sliced (thank goodness - having to slice that thing would have been crazy!).
When I took out the salmon, instead of taking the salmon directly out of the packaging and putting on a serving plate, I made sure to separate each slice so that it was easy for the guests to take as many slices as they wanted. Had I not separated each slice, the guests would have not have known where the slices began and ended and it would have made for a slippery salmon scene and would have caused sheepish guests because the serving plate would have looked a mess when they were done with it.
Always avoid awkward table maneuvers! Rule of thumb!
Your 8 Tips for Easy Party Planning
1 When you’re planning your event, think of what your vibe is. Is it a casual buffet style affair or will everyone be sitting down together? If you’re doing a buffet, you’ll want to have a designated space to place your main dishes and put plates, cutlery and napkins close to the food to make it easy. Oh, and keep the main dishes covered if you’re outside.
2 Think of a color scheme so your serving bowls and casserole dishes match, or at least complement each other. You’ll likely want to have a couple of tablecloths and runners with napkins to dress up your table. Just pick whatever makes you happy at the moment. If you have seasonal tablecloths, choose the most appropriate!
3 Depending on what you’re serving, you might need casserole dishes (i.e. oven-safe pans that look cute on the table), salad bowls and platters. Oh, and while we are thinking about preparing the food, think about what you're going to use for sending your guests home with leftovers (if there are any!)
4 Having enough plates and cups for 8-10 is usually a good rule of thumb if you’re using non-disposable items (like stuff from your cabinets!). If you usually have more than 10 people for more formal sit-down parties, you likely don’t need my advice! You got this!! If you’re using paper or plastic, have a good little stack in case folks go back for more and use more than one plate/cup. If you’re serving wine, you’ll want wine glasses for red, white or champagne and a place for the wine.
5 Where will you put your beverages? Maybe having a cooler where the guests know they can serve themselves. If they’ll need to pour their own drinks, have the cups and ice nearby so they don’t need to wonder!
6 Serving spoons and spreaders are key, especially for picnics, bbq’s and brunches. You’ll want spreaders for cream cheese, butter, mayo, mustard, etc. You’ll want serving spoons or salad tongs for those cold salads.
7 At bbq’s and summertime affairs, you might be serving lemonade, fruit punch, sangria or other fun cold beverages. Do yourself a solid and make sure you have a nice pitcher, preferably one that you can clean easily and that you can actually get a sponge into if it’s not dishwasher-safe.
8 Make it easy for yourself and don't try to do everything the day of the party. If it's not too intimidating, write out a couple of notes of what you can do each day for the few days before (i.e. prep schedule). If there are salads or cold dishes you can make ahead of time, do those 1-2 days before the party and make room in your fridge. Marinate your meats 1-2 days before, too. You can even make hot side dishes like mac and cheese and rice and beans ahead of time and reheat for your party. You can make your cookies and cupcakes ahead of time and put them in an airtight container unrefrigerated. Put the frosting in the fridge though to be safe because there are some frostings that use ingredients that need to be refrigerated.
I’m sure there are loads of things I forgot that you might do for your parties. What else makes life easier for you and your guests before, during and after the party?