Summertime Entertaining Made Easy.

There’s nothing better than sitting outdoors, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the company of friends and family. But actually getting to this moment can often be stressful, particularly if it’s an impromptu gathering. What should I serve?! What do I cook? Do I have time to run to the grocery store? Will everyone get eaten alive by mosquitos?! Aaack! If you’re anything like me, this then leads to a mad dash into the kitchen to desperately scour through the pantry, hoping that supplies are on hand.

Well, fret not my friends! As an extreme worry-wart myself, I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be ok. Really! Just a few simple supplies can transform a humdrum gathering into that perfect summertime soiree.

Garden Party 1 w watermark

Let me start by saying – summertime gatherings needn’t be fancy. This is a time of maxi dresses, flip flops, shorts, and tank tops. Create your entertainment accordingly! Pitchers of ice tea, water, and lemonade, a bucket of beer, and a carafe of wine spritzer should do the trick nicely.

Add to that just a couple more ingredients and you have yourself a party. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flowers: whether home grown or fresh from the market, flowers add that instant pop of color. Again, you don’t need to get fancy here! Just a few wildflowers in an old tin can or mason jar, a bundle of tulips or sunflowers in a pitcher, or single flowers in a few empty wine bottles. Whatever you have on hand will work!

Craftberry Bush - Summer tablescape with free wild flowers.

Photography: Ashlee Raubach  Interior Design: Nicole Davisflower display

  • Fruit: I don’t know about you, but when I think of summer I can’t help but think of deliciously fresh fruit…peaches, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon – oh my! There’s nothing like biting into a juicy peach on a hot summer day. So be sure to set out bowls overflowing with seasonal fruits. Make a fruit salad. Add fruits to your ice tea and lemonade. Freeze them into your ice cubes. Whip them into a dessert. Do whatever you need to do to get as many fruits on the table as possible! Need some inspiration and a few recipes to get you started..?

Secret Fruit Salad: The secret is dry vanilla pudding mix. It combines with all the juices from the fruit & makes a scrumptious dressing that coats every bite. People will ask you for the recipe it's so good!

Secret Fruit Salad

Sweet Paul's Chocolate Chip Filled Raspberries

Chocolate Filled Raspberries

Raspbery beer cocktail

Strawberry Basil Lemonade Cocktail / Raspberry Beer Cocktail

Ginger Peach Soda

  • Veggies! Like fruit, fresh veggies are another summer must. Keep it simple with a veggie platter and other pop into the mouth options like this:

Tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, basil

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto

Or, I suppose you can go a little fancier and go for something like this…

layered summer salad - shrimp, avocados, grilled corn, black bean salsa, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, & creamy cilantro tomatillo dressing.

Delicious & refreshing!

  • Airflow. Glorious, cool air: not only does a fan keep your guests cool, but it keeps those little buggers away (I mean the bugs, not your friends)! Flies and mosquitos have a hard time flying in high wind so keep the airflow steady and directed at your food.

Vintage Fan

  • Foods fresh from the grill: Need I say more? Here are a couple amazing recipes to try:

Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burgers + Guacamole / whats gaby cooking

Cheddar Jalapeno Burgers with Guacamole (toppings make the burger!)

Chipotle chicken kabobs with avocado cream sauce

Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce

Grilled Corn with Tequila Lime Butter #recipe

Grilled Corn with Tequila Lime Butter

  • Lighting: if you plan on partying through the night, make sure you have a few lights on hand. Tiki torches, tea candles, lanterns, or just a few lights strung through your trees or over your pergola not only create a dreamy glow, but they allow your patrons to see where they are going!

Poppytalk: Light it Up: Outdoor LanternsOld shutter doors as a backrop, strung with lights = gorgeous!

We need to do this on trees and columns. Just need to figure out electricity

You see? Not too hard is it?! And to make life as stress free as possible, here’s a grab and go checklist for you:

Summertime Entertaining – Grab & Go Checklist:

  • Ice
  • Beer & Wine
  • Vodka, Gin, and/or Tequila for Cocktails
  • Tonic and/or Mineral Water
  • Cooler, Bucket, Wagon, or Barrel for Drinks
  • Pitchers & Glasses
  • Plates & Serving Ware
  • Flowers & Containers
  • Lemons or Pre-made Lemonade
  • Tea Bags for Iced Tea
  • Fruit – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, watermelon, and lime (basil & mint to accompany)
  • Veggies – lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, onion, carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, squash (basil, mozzarella, prosciutto, shrimp, jalapenos, and/or ranch dressing to accompany)
  • Meat for Grilling (your choice of cheese/toppings to accompany)
  • Corn for Grilling (butter to accompany)
  • A Fan & Extension Cord
  • Tea Candles, Tiki Torches, Lanterns, or String of Lights

Now go forth and party!


My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy. However, with the brunt of the hurricane now behind us and Thanksgiving charging ahead, I think it’s important to remember what we are thankful for.

For the first time, I’ll actually be hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year, and I can’t wait. I love the thrill of hosting, of creating something special for my loved ones, and basking in the conversation and laughter.

For my family, Thanksgiving is a casual affair; a lot of rest, relaxation, football, and food. And this is exactly what I want Thanksgiving dinner to embody: a casual family gathering with my own elegant twist.

So of course, I’ve been scouring through magazines, blogs, and Pinterest for recipes ideas and décor inspiration and here’s what I found:

Pinned Image

Bleu Cheese-bacon dip with crackers for pre-Thanksgiving, football watching snack. You can find the recipe here.

Perfect idea for dining room mantle!

Thanksgiving table setting

I love the natural neutrals of this table setting. It’s simple, elegant, and allows rooms for food on the table!

Pinned ImageCranberry Citrus Relish

Pumpkin risotto, Bread Stuffing with Pancetta & Figs, Cranberry Citrus Relish

Glazed Carrots with PistachiosCelery Root, Potato, and Pear Mash

Glazed Carrots with Pistachios, Celery, Potato, and Pear Mash

Green Beans with Shallots, Thyme, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Green Beans with Shallots, Thyme, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Buttermilk Cornbread, B. Smith’s Bourbon-Cranberry Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Mousse Trifle – delish!

Menu cards

Recipe cards for the family to take home – such a great idea!

Pinned Image

Simply adorable idea for buffet table.

Now, I’m sure many of you noticed my lack of Thanksgiving main entrée – the turkey! Well, this year I’ve decided to leave the turkey up to the boys. Yep, there’s nothing like a fryer and a 15lb turkey to bring together the testosterone…

I’m going to hope it turns out a little something like this though!

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year? Will you be hosting? Travelling? I’ll be adding Thanksgiving inspiration to my Pinterest board for the next few weeks so feel free to share your recipes and ideas!