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.
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!
- 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..?
Strawberry Basil Lemonade Cocktail / Raspberry Beer Cocktail
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, Basil, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto
Or, I suppose you can go a little fancier and go for something like this…
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.
- Foods fresh from the grill: Need I say more? Here are a couple amazing recipes to try:
Cheddar Jalapeno Burgers with Guacamole (toppings make the burger!)
Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce
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!
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:
- 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!