Hello darlings! Today I’m going to share with you some photos I took during a little 4th of July celebration in our home and some tips and tricks to help keep your summer entertaining stress-free. The Godfather and I really like to have guests over so we can feed them, but feeding a lot of people can be stressful sometimes, and as a host, you want to enjoy your party! I’ll be the first to tell you we haven’t always managed to do this successfully, but we have learned some things over the years that I’d like to share with you today.
1. Keep the menu simple!
I’ll admit this one is challenging for me because I love to serve a variety of foods and we make most things from scratch. Remember that your guests are there for the company first, food second. Plan easy make ahead recipes and outsource where you need to. For example, for our Independence Day party, I purchased the hot dog and hamburger buns and salsa. I made the chili in advance using my slow cooker, and purchased all my cheese pre-sliced or pre-shredded. The pie dough was made about two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, and I made the key lime cheesecake the day prior.
- Build your own hot dogs and hamburgers
- Chips, salsa, fresh guacamole
- Grilled corn
- Fresh watermelon
- Salted Caramel Apple Pie
- Key Lime Cheesecake
2. Use disposable plates, cups, and cutlery.
Thankfully you can find some cute options in terms of design for all of the above. Disposable dishes have come a long way from the plain white plates I remember most from when I was a kid (although you can still find those to and be all retro). The reason for this tip is twofold – you don’t want to have loads of dishes to do after the event, and most people don’t have the necessary quantity of dishes on hand. For smaller dinner parties, feel free to use your regular plates, but if you have more than maybe 6 in attendance, I’d highly recommend using disposables.
3. Set up stations so guests can drink and munch while you finish last minute details.
My original plan was to set everything up on the farm table the Godfather was building, but the table wasn’t ready, so we modified the plan, and it worked out better than I imagined! I set up the drinks on the dining room table along with the chips and salsa, the main dishes in the kitchen, and then we left the patio door open and arranged the outdoor chairs in a welcoming manner so people could easily grab their drink and head out to visit L while he grilled the burger patties. Even though our house isn’t a fully open floor plan, guests could easily move from one room to the other so everyone felt included. Serving food was very easy as well.
4. The best way to serve food for a crowd is either family style or buffet.
We opted to go with a buffet since our table space was small and somewhat awkward to have piled with food. I set everything up on our kitchen island, using cake plates, cutting boards, and assorted serving dishes to add visual interest and height. That also helps prevent crowding of the food and makes serving easier. Using my island was great too because people could reach food from more than one side, so service was quick – great when you’re hungry!
I grouped like foods together, leaving condiments off to one side so I didn’t create a bottleneck in the middle of the table. You may also choose to place the condiments in the general eating area, but that really depends on your setup.
If you have a smaller group, or one with lots of children, I would recommend family style service. That way there are no little hands trying to carry plates from one place to another, and no parents making multiple trips back and forth to help serve. Everyone can sit together and enjoy the meal at roughly the same time.
5. Relax and enjoy!
It’s a party! No one will remember the perfect bunting you spent hours creating or the fact that your seating chart (should you make one) is perfectly modeled after Emily Post’s guidelines, but they will remember if you were stressed and absent from your own gathering.
With a little planning ahead, a bit of outsourcing, a smile, and these easy summer entertaining tips, you’ll party like a pro in no time!