A Fool-Proof Guide To The Ultimate Summer Party June 6, 2018
With warm weather and extended daylight hours, now’s the perfect time to host the ultimate summer party. If you can plan ahead, great! But even last-minute events can be simple, stress-free, and delicious if you remember these key ingredients, tips, and tricks.
Good libations: drinks, drinks, and more drinks (and ice)
Infused water and iced tea
Guests need to stay hydrated, so make sure to have plenty of water on hand. I love making fruity iced teas and infused water (like lemon herb or cucumber mint) in a big pitcher. When you run out, just refill with fresh water — no need to add more lemons or herbs since they’ll continue imparting flavor, but keep in mind that citrus peels lend a bitter taste to water after four hours or so.
Beer, wine, and bubbly is just fine for many events, but a great signature cocktail can be the star of your summer party — like vodka with homemade lemonade. You can even add a pinch of cayenne to give it a kick or sweeten the lemonade with honey for a richer flavor.
Watermelon margaritas and beautiful summer sangrias (red and white) are also great crowd-pleasers. I love doing these as big batches and making ‘em ahead in the morning or a few hours before guests arrive.
Don’t forget about refreshing summertime punches, too. Just be sure to fill up a pitcher with ice right before serving so it won’t be watered down.
Another fun way to dress up a bar or cocktail hour is to have fun glassware and garnishes. Cut fruit, fresh herbs, mix and match glassware, mason jars, jelly jars, and even fun tea cups can be a great addition to your summer party. For more inspiration, check out these cocktails and mocktails. Although they were originally created for the hustle-bustle of the holidays, we’d be happy to sip ‘em any time of the year.
And whatever you do… don’t run out of ice. It’s one of those things that’s often forgotten or underestimated. Depending on your set up, it may be difficult to store. And ice buckets, while great, only hold a small amount. So if you have big bags of ice, a bathtub will always do. Otherwise, a good cooler should do the trick. Just make sure you indicate that it’s clean ice, so that you can refill the ice bucket as often as needed. Keep an ice scoop or tongs handy, too!
Keep The Menu Simple
Add some pizzazz to your proteins
When it comes to food, more of the same is better than not enough of a lot of different dishes — so big batch is the way to go.
If you’re serving basic proteins like grilled chicken, fish, steak, or pork, only choose 1-2 depending on the size of the group. To dress it up, try your hand at simple marinades, dry rubs, or fun summer fruit salsas (like fiery poblano pineapple or citrusy kiwi mango).
We even have a peachy jalapeño salsa to accompany barbecue-spiced grilled pork chops the week the July 14 – July 20, so keep an eye out!
Embrace mezze and Mediterranean themes
Shared plates (aka mezze) are perfect for your summer party because you can make so much of it ahead (and supplement with your favorite store-bought items like hummus and pita chips if you’re running short on time).
Greek yogurt can be dressed up in a moment’s notice with a little grated garlic and cucumber. If you have fresh herbs like dill, mint, or parsley, even better! You can also stir condiments like sriracha or homemade harissa right into some Greek yogurt for an instant dip the whole crowd will love. And even avocado for an extra creamy guac.
I love it when mezze platters have an abundance of veggies, both raw or grilled. Either can be prepped in advance and set out just before guests arrive. Baskets, wooden crates and even anodized aluminum buckets make perfect vessels for crudité, too.
Although people love grilled veggies, sometimes they can be a little tricky to keep from falling down the grill grates. If you don’t have a grilling basket, try foil packets instead. They’re simple to make with heavy duty aluminum foil and can be made in just about any size. Just season your veggies with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and some herbs before sealing in foil. Grill for about 15-20 minutes over direct heat, turning once, and they’ll be cooked to perfection. You can also use foil packs for everything else from seafood to potatoes and corn. It’s known as “en papillote” cooking, and it’s as easy as can be.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with fun, interactive desserts
Build-your-own dessert bars are a fun way to get people mingling. You can do this with a loaded brownie bar complete with ice cream, whipped cream, and toppings like fresh fruit, fudge sauce, and sprinkles or a summer fruit pie station that has a few pies that guests can top with a variety of berries.
Refreshing ice pops are perfect for hot summer days, too. But since they can be a little messy, try serving them in a goblet with a splash of Prosecco. Your guests will be over the moon!
Remember — throwing a summer party should be fun, so it’s okay to ask for help and get your guests involved. If someone asks what they can bring or do, try to delegate. Think about the things that will help take the edge off for you.
When I entertain, I ask guests to bring one of these items:
- Supplemental beverages
- Cut fresh fruit
- Cheese and crackers
- Salsa, guac, Chips
- Crudité veggies with dip
For more grilling tips, tricks, and recipes check out: