Summer is my favorite time of the year for entertaining with friends and family over. The garden is in full swing so we can cozy on up to all the lush greenery in the backyard, the weather is amazing so we can all sit outside on the patio without the worry of getting rained on, and we can enjoy all the refreshing foods and drinks of the season. Between my workshops and Secret Suppers, I’ve become a pretty seasoned entertaining expert, and so I’ve partnered with Evite to share my biggest entertaining tips with you guys here. I know that having people over and coordinating a gathering can be a bit stressful if done incorrectly, but if you follow these guidelines I promise that it will be smooth sailing from here on out 🙂
Plan Out The Menu Well Ahead of Time
Take a seat and write out everything you plan on serving. Now figure out the cook times for each thing and the method of preparation. If you find that you need to put 4 different things in the oven at once, you might need to rethink things. Make sure to take note of any extended recipes, too, like meats that need to be marinated overnight for grilling the next day, and account for that. Also keep an eye out for dishes or ingredients that can be prepped ahead of time (more on that later!)
Make Getting in Touch with Folks Easy
Nowadays it can be hard to get everyone together with the hecticness of folks’ schedules and trying to coordinate with everyone, so I like to keep things simple and use Evite. It makes coming together effortless and more memorable, and is always the easiest way to bring friends and family together for any event. Evite has a huge variety of great invitation designs, and a mobile app that makes event-planning on-the-go super easy peasy.
Prepare as Many Dishes Ahead of Time as Possible
When you’re entertaining, falling behind schedule and still being knee-deep in food prep when guests arrive is *SO* stressful. There’s no catching up on it, and it keeps you stuck inside doing prep work instead of being able to hang out with your friends and enjoy the fruits of your labor. The best way to avoid this scenario is to make as much ahead of time as humanly possible. Things like chopping up all the veggies for a salad the day before saves you lots of time the day of, since all you have to do at that point is take the bowl out of the fridge, toss it with the dressing, and serve it. Making any homemade beverages like summer fruit simple syrups or punch can be done the day before, too, as can most desserts like pie, cake, rice pudding, and ice cream.
Make Beverages Self-Serving
People tend to crave refreshing beverages during the summer months, so the best way to keep yourself from having to jump up from the table every time someone needs a refill is to just make everything self-serving. Leave pitchers of water on the table, as well as bottles of wine. I like serving Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Claret and Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Chardonnay so that there’s a red and a white option, so everyone is happy. My go-to beverage for summertime parties is a white wine spritzer bar, with Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc, a homemade raspberry simple syrup, and some club soda. You could easily sub in fruit juice for the simple syrup, instead, if you want something a little less sweet, too. I have a little recipe for the white wine spritzer bar further down in the post, too!
Serve Cool Dishes
Chances are it’s going to be hot outside, and the last thing people want to eat in the sun is plate after plate of searing hot food. I like to limit myself to only one hot dish per meal in the summer, and instead focus on nice cooling foods & drinks like salads, fresh fruit, crostinis, charcuterie plates, white wine, juice, and of course lots of water. For the hot dish, I like to grill something outside, that way I don’t have to turn the oven on and heat the whole house up. Plus, since we’re eating outside anyway, it creates more interaction between the guests and the food and gives them another communal gathering place outdoors.
Create Social Situations Through Food
Giving folks a shared activity, like wine tasting, is a great way to get any of your friends and family members that might not know each other to mingle a little bit and start conversation. If there’s one thing everyone has in common, it’s eating and drinking, and folks can talk about that all night! Serving things like charcuterie platters or other shared dishes will also help get your guests to interact with each other around the common food area. Plus, having a variety of different foods on the platter, like various types of cured meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, pickles, and sweet spreads, ensures that everyone will be able to find something they like on it. I have a recipe for making your own charcuterie platter a little further down in the post, along with wine pairings! 🙂
I am an Evite influencer and this post was made in partnership with Evite, but all opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own, per usual!
4 ounces Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc
3 ounces club soda
1 ounce fruit juice or fruit simple syrup
Note that the above ingredients make 1 serving, so multiply this by the number of guests you expect to have. To set up the bar, make sure you have a large jar or glass with a cocktail spoon for mixing the white wine spritzer, as well as several wine glasses and a measuring cup. If you want to jazz it up a little bit, you can lay some nice linen towels on top of the serving surface and put some flowers in a bud vase, too. To make the spritzer, simply stir together the Sauvignon Blanc, club soda, and fruit juice or simple syrup and voila! A tasty white wine spritzer.
3 ounces proscuitto, thinly sliced and rolled into logs
8 ounces cured salami, such as sopressata
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
5 ounces aged gouda
5 ounces triple creme soft cheese
4 ounces chevre
8 ounces fresh fruit, such as grapes or cherries
2 tablespoons sweet jam or spread, such as apple butter, blackberry jam, etc.
2 tablespoons honey
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Claret
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Chardonnay
Arrange the proscuitto, cheeses, and fruit on a large platter with assorted cheese knives. Place the sweet jam or honey in small dishes with spoons and place on the board as well. Place the crackers on a plater nearby the charcuterie board, and place the bread on a cutting board nearby with a knife for cutting. Serve alongside Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Claret and Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Chardonnay for red and white wine pairings.