Summer is an ideal season for entertaining. Many people have a lighter work schedule and are in a festive vacation mood. The weather usually allows for outdoor gatherings and throwing a dinner party is a great way to take advantage of long, relaxing summer evenings. It’s a perfect time to plan casual parties, skipping the fancy tables and heavy comfort food of winter in favor of simple, seasonal dishes and a comfortable atmosphere. Here are several tips to help you throw an amazing summer dinner party.
Cool and Casual
One key to an enjoyable summer party is a laid back atmosphere. While it can be fun to dress up and have a glitzy party, most people prefer comfort and relaxation in the hot summer months. Invite your guests to dress casually and hold your party outdoors if possible. Play upbeat or nostalgic music and include some lawn games if you have enough space. You can also encourage a casual feeling by serving dinner buffet style or even making the meal potluck so everyone feels involved.
Be sure to have a good variety of delicious drinks to keep your guests cool and hydrated. Of course, ice water is a must, and adding cucumber or lemon can help it taste even more refreshing. Instead of using a more formal bar setup, place soda and beer in a cooler and let your guests choose their own drinks. You can even mix up a couple cocktails in single-serving mason jars as an alternative to beer. Make sure you have at least two non-alcoholic options for underage guests or those who choose not to consume alcohol.
Having a themed party or a formal table with handwritten menus and place cards can be enjoyable, but for a summer party, it’s better to decorate sparingly especially if you’re entertaining outdoors. You could go completely casual with paper plates and plastic utensils. Another option is plain white tableware with stemless glasses and casual silverware. For centerpieces, small arrangements of fresh flowers (local wildflowers if you can find them) are nice, or a few floating candles in shallow bowls. Butcher’s twine is a great way to tie a napkin and utensil set together, and is especially convenient for a buffet-style meal.
No Bugs Allowed
If you live in an area with mosquitos or other pests, make sure you take precautions to prevent them from ruining your night. Use citronella candles to repel mosquitos and make sure there are covers for the serving dishes to keep flies away. It’s also nice to offer insect repellent spray to your guests.
Many people try to follow a healthy diet during the summertime. Honor your guests by serving dishes that forego heavy sauces and rich ingredients in favor of fresh vegetables and smaller portion sizes. Salads are a great option for a summer meal since there are so many seasonal ingredients easily available. Healthy, affordable dressings from Hampton Creek are the perfect addition to any salad. There are several flavors to choose from and all are made with a small list of real ingredients so you can feel confident you’re serving high-quality food.
Engaging and Fun
For a relaxed atmosphere, encourage your guests to participate. You could ask each guest to bring a favorite local beer and do a “tasting” or ask everyone to contribute an appetizer or dessert. You could choose a menu that allows your guests to help. For example, set a couple guests to work mixing guacamole or arranging a veggie platter. If you have a firepit, make s’mores for dessert so everyone can get in on the fun of roasting marshmallows. Allowing your guests to participate in the food preparation help create a family atmosphere, perfect for a casual party.
Summer is a great time to host a laid back gathering for your family and friends. If you have the space to entertain outdoors, it’s a great way to enjoy the warm weather and long evenings, especially if you keep the bugs away. Plus, you can have some lawn games for your guests to enjoy and it’s a great opportunity to utilize a firepit if you have one.
Serve a variety of refreshing drinks and light, healthy dishes. It’s also fun to encourage your guests to really participate, either by helping to cook or bringing something to the party. Choose casual, minimalist decor and make sure you take the time yourself to sit back, grab a drink and enjoy the party.