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Summer usually signifies getting outside and spending time with friends. As soon as school ends and the little ones are home or in camp full time I start to think about how I can gather people together and do some easy summer entertaining. Here are my 5 tips for summer entertaining that will keep your parties stress free and your parties hopping!
Tip #1: Menu
Keep your summer menu easy. One of our favorites is tacos! You can easily set up a taco bar directly onto your table. Personally, we don’t ever use ground beef for tacos. I like to keep it interesting with ribeye or pork. As you can see from the photo below, it’s easy to set up a festive taco bar right on your table. All it takes is a little chopping.
Any type of food “bar” makes prep a lot easier because a good deal of what needs to be done can be done in advance. For instance, throw a couple of steaks on the grill, and set up a baked potato bar. Make a pot of chili and set up all of the fixings along with chips and you’re done! Anytime that people can help themselves it automatically creates a more laid back atmosphere.
Ideas for food “bars” for the summer:
- Taco Bar
- Chili Bar
- Make Your Own – Grilled Pizza Bar
- New England Clambake bar
- Build Your Own Burger Bar
- Nacho Bar
- Build Your Own Pressed Sandwich Bar
Top off your menu with an ice cream sandwich or sundae making bar! Don’t want to deal with ice cream? Just match the theme of your party. New England Clambake? Apple Pie. Nacho or Chili Bar? Flan. You get it! Super easy.
Tip 2: Beverages
I always advise people to keep their drink menu simple. I generally offer beer, wine, and a signature drink for the event. In the summer, my favorite drink to offer is sangria (which takes care of wine and a signature drink in one). If I do a red sangria, I keep a white on-hand. If I do a white sangria, I’ll usually have a lighter red available. In the summer sangria is a favorite because it’s fresh, it’s light, and generally, guests love it. You can also take a look at these fun cocktails that I’ve gathered. So many flavorful options!
Offering alcohol free options is also really important. Make sure you have bottled water and perhaps some iced tea on hand. It’s always the little touches that make the biggest impact. Make sure to have sliced lemons and limes along with some fresh mint on the side.
If you have a second freezer, like I do, it’s always smart to keep a couple of bags of ice in it if you have the room. The fridge ice maker will only make so much at once. Around here, ice is key, so I keep it on hand.
Now let’s talk about setting up a bar. I don’t ever mind people inside my home, but when the party is outside I like to keep everything central. I have a large drink tub and I use that for all of my drinks – inside or outside. It keeps them cold without worry.
Tip 3: Games
Recently I’ve added a small bowl of little games that I keep on the table. I have a mini game pad, travel tic tac toe, take and play checkers – you name it. I also have Table Topics – which is a fantastic conversation starter! Having little items on the table are good conversation starters, and people will grab them without a second thought. I also love BIG games. Giant sized. I listed a few of my favorites in my Summer Entertaining Essentials post. Take a look and pick some up. They get everyone in a good mood and having fun together without having to engage in too much conversation with people that they may not already know!
Tip 4: Provide Bug Repellant & Sunblock
I don’t have a homemade concoction that I can offer you, but I have one that I can recommend. We always use Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus. This way you’re protected from both the sun and the bugs! Plus – a bonus – it smells nice! ( I’m not an affiliate for Avon – this is just my honest to God go-to). You really should give it a try. I keep it in a basket along with other sunblocks on our porch so they are easy to grab for anyone who might like/need some!
If you decide to go with a separate sunblock, have it available as well. Provide a couple of different levels of protection as guests may not always want 80! (My husband and I are polar opposites. I use high SPF and he uses low – drives me nuts)!
Tip 5: Have a Backup Plan
If it rains – don’t cancel the party. Just bring the party inside! Do a quick clean up of your indoors so that the house is guest ready. That way, no matter what – the party goes on! If you keep a nice grill pan on hand you won’t even need to change up your menu (isn’t that always a plus)! You know what they say – the party must go on! Because people may automatically assume a BBQ type party is cancelled due to bad weather – make sure that you invitation says “rain or shine”!
Don’t want people inside? Rent a couple of tents!
If you feel like you just don’t want a have a summer bash inside – have a rain date set ahead of time. The next day, if possible. Budget-wise, you don’t want to have to shop two times for the same party. Another reason to plan a simple menu.
Summer entertaining should be laid back, and easier than entertaining at other times of the year. Use these 5 tips for summer entertaining and it’ll be that much easier. There shouldn’t be stress involved, because everyone you invite will be in a laid back, summer mood. Enjoy the planning, enjoy your company – and breathe easy. It’s summer.