Stay out of the kitchen for summer celebrations and make entertaining look like a breeze.
It’s summer! We can get together again! And, best of all… the last couple of summers taught us that we rather liked gathering outside. How can you prep for entertaining on those busy summer weekends—and spend more of your time outdoors?
Start with a concept.
A lot of people think “theme” when it comes to summer entertaining, and that’s a tried-and-true way to go. Red, white, blue, stars, and sparklers for patriotic holidays. Balloons and banners and baked beans for the family reunion. But what if you chose a concept instead? For designers, a concept is inspired by a situation or a setting. It’s like a game of Let’s Pretend. For the purposes of this article, let’s pretend our concept is Going Wild.
Set an outdoorsy, casual table.
Leave the linens and dinnerware inside. Paper plates and summer go together like bikini tops and bottoms. Tear off a roll of butcher paper and have the kids draw flora and fauna to make a simple tablecloth. Dress a rustic table with a plaid picnic blanket. Lean folding chairs against a tree so people can seat themselves. If you set up benches, it’s easier for your guests to pop up and toss a Frisbee or catch a pop fly.
Forage for your décor.
Random, natural touches and materials make your table look like it just kind of happened. Grab nearby wildflowers or trim a few tree branches for a dramatic, natural-looking centerpiece. Find tall grasses and Queen Anne’s lace by the side of the road. Line up seashells, interesting rocks, found objects, or vines down the center of the table. Cut big leaves to use as placemats. Or move the table itself closer to the greenery of trees or shrubs or your garden.
For bonus points, go really wild and hang lanterns in the low branches of a tree. Not quite as fuss-free as some of these tips, but magical.
Serve fresh, light, fuss-free foods.
Go wild with good ingredients instead of heating up the kitchen. Raid the farmer’s market for ripe tomatoes and cucumbers. Tear a crusty loaf into pieces and pair it with chunks of local cheese. The night before your gathering, boil a heap of fresh tortellini and add flavorful Mediterranean ingredients for an over-the-top, chilled pasta salad. Have someone man the grill, and have everyone bring one chopped ingredient for a big salad bar. Order a charcuterie platter with open jars of gourmet condiments, hot sauces, pickles, and olives on the side. Garnish everything with large sprigs of fresh herbs.
For the rest, set out bowls of rough-sliced, juicy strawberries and peaches. Assemble yogurt parfaits, no baking required, and freeze up some fruity pops. Fill a pitcher or drink dispenser with one cocktail, like our favorite, vodka lemonade. (The name is the recipe, proportions up to you!). Pour gourmet coffee into tin cups from a thermos.
And get ready to go back to the kitchen…
While you’re spending so much time outdoors, it’s a great time to start your kitchen remodel with Marsh Kitchen & Bath. While your space is being demo’d and installed, you can repurpose these tips to take another well-deserved break!