There’s something so wonderful about summer entertaining – spirits are high and stress levels are low as you savor time spent with your loved ones and friends.
Soirees during the season should reflect all the best qualities of summer, such as that relaxing feeling that comes with living on vacation time and the pure bliss of laying in a hammock. Above all, summer parties should be unfussy and simply elegant.
To help you throw the perfect get-togethers all season long, here are five tips for summer entertaining:
- Pick the right tunes for the mood
One of the beautiful things about summer parties is that they are carefree – the sun sets late and once it does, the party can keep on going into the balmy night. Music plays a big role in creating a festive atmosphere at a party, so put a little thought into what will work best for your gathering.
Tara Guérard of Soirée, a wedding and event company based in Charleston, South Carolina, told Vogue that she crafts a playlist that changes tone throughout the evening, with upbeat jazz during dinner or cocktails and then dance music for when after the sun goes down.
“If you have trouble putting playlists together -they are hard and time-consuming -find someone who is really good at it and loves to do it,” she said. “The best part? You can keep the playlist forever.”
Celebrate the season with the perfect summer soiree.
- Give your menu a fun theme
Skip run-of-the-mill foods and drinks and instead go with an unstuffy but chic theme for your summer party fare. For example, pick a “Barbecue in the Tropics” theme and go with pineapple-glazed chicken, shrimp skewers and pulled pork sliders topped with mandarin-orange coleslaw. Another theme could be “Little Italy,” with a selection of antipasto, meatball skewers and personal pizzas. Or go for “Cheeses of the World,” with upscale small bites featuring a variety of delicious fromages – this recipe for Goat Cheese and Apricot Crostini with Pistachios and Mint from Stuck On Sweet will steal the show. Don’t be afraid to have a quirky or unusual theme – the more playful it is, the better!
To save time, prepare any items that can be put together ahead of time before the party starts, and store them in Fit & Fresh containers in the fridge.
- Use platters
When crafting your food menu, look for opportunities to put together a show-stopping platter. Not only is it totally Instagrammable, but a large platter of hors d’oeuvres can tide a large crowd over until the main meal. Just check out this amazing charcuterie board from SkinnyTaste or this stunning Mediterranean antipasto platter from Half Baked Harvest – they’re works of art!
Epicurious has a great guide on how to put together the perfect charcuterie board, based on tips from owner and and salumist at Olympia Provisions in Portland, Elias Cairo. He recommends 2 ounces of salami, sausage or other prepared meats per person.
“If you’re doing it for a cocktail party, where the charcuterie is the majority of the food people are eating, you’re going to double the amount of meat and serve it with plenty of bread,” Cairo said. “So about 5 ounces per person.”
“Don’t shy away from using bright, bold colors in your summer party decorations.”
- Create a comfortable environment
Skip hard surfaces and sharp angles at summer soirees and instead create as comfortable an environment as possible for party guests. Seating is a major factor – wiry lawn chairs or hard wooden pieces can be harsh – so RealSimple magazine suggested instead topping chairs with plush cushions that will encourage long and fascinating conversations over the dinner table. Soft blankets laid out on the grass and big pillows also create a comfortable environment with a little added Bohemian flair. Fringed linen or fabric tablecloths are also charming alternatives to more traditional materials that have more texture and visual interest.
- Celebrate with colorful decor
Don’t shy away from using bright, bold colors in your summer party decorations – they’re fun, fearless and carefree, three qualities that sum up the season! Plates, napkins and utensils are also areas where unexpected touches of color are totally charming, and they don’t have to cost a fortune, as Actress Casey Wilson told Martha Stewart magazine.
“You can find cute things at a good price at places like HomeGoods,” she said. “I recently got these cute colored glasses there that add a fun pop of color to the table. I like being able to put out nice dishware and décor that isn’t insanely expensive!”
A mismatch of patterns or styles of your dishware can create an effortlessly cool look, too, so don’t be afraid to use tea cups or wine glasses that aren’t all the same. Or go for a hodgepodge of vintage dishware for an unfussy but chic vibe.