Maybe it’s because summer is here. Maybe it’s because I just moved to a new home. Maybe it’s because there’s been a lot to celebrate lately. The bottom line: I’ve done a LOT of entertaining in the last month. And I wouldn’t have it any other way! In fact, some of the gatherings have come together last-minute, like the impromptu family dinner that put eleven guests around my table–thank goodness the table expands as needed!
Since I’ve been thrown into the deep end of the entertaining pool, I’ve had to rely on a few party survival tips. Don’t get me wrong–I love entertaining! But the more I do it, the more I realize that a few tidbits hold true each time I gather friends and family together. Today I highlight my top 5 tips with the help of gorgeous images from a range of sources, such as party planning blogs. Enjoy, and don’t forget to share your party planning tips by leaving a comment at the end of the post!
Add a Handful of Special Touches
Our first tip is simple: make the event special with a few easy-to-create touches. And there’s no one right way to do this! Some people relish the opportunity to add a variety of party decorations to the mix. Others create one or two small touches that make a big statement. It’s amazing what a little festivity will do! These Fringe Burst Stir Sticks (a DIY project from Confetti Pop) are easy to craft, and they add a whimsical dose of color. Below we see images from a Confetti Pop photo shoot for Camille Styles. Note the refreshing summer palette:
While I admit that I don’t add party decorations to my home every time I have people over, I do enjoy creating special touches in the form of beautifully prepared food. If done well, the food becomes part of the party decor! Even basic treats can be presented with flair, as shown by our next featured event, an ice cream tasting party from SF Girl by the Bay…
Simplify Your Event by Labeling Food and Drinks
Labeling food can actually make your party run more smoothly. We’re not talking about the color-coordinated computer printout labels that unite each and every item in a uniform theme. If you enjoy covering each water bottle with its own official party label, be our guest. But that level of meticulous planning isn’t necessary. Try homemade labels that are easy to prepare and helpful for guests. Why spend the whole night answering questions about each edible? Spell it out from the start and you won’t be chained to the food table. Below we see the beauty of ingredient labels at a Fancy Grilled Cheese Party from A Beautiful Mess:
We LOVE this next idea from A Subtle Revery! Use condiments such as mustard and ketchup to label hamburger buns so the griller knows exactly how to prepare the meat for each guest. The same idea can work for a variety of edibles, eliminating the need for a pen and paper to keep track of requests when food is made to order.
Make Something, Buy Something
Our next featured party tip: make something and buy something! Honestly, you don’t have to prepare each edible from scratch for your party to be authentic. Even if you cater the food, try putting your own special stamp on the event with a refreshing extra, such as flavored water. Check out A Cup of Jo for three delicious flavored water recipes: blackberry sage, mixed citrus and ginger mint, as shown below…
At this holiday party from Camille Styles, we see the beauty of the “make something, buy something” philosophy. Made: butternut squash and blue cheese mini pizzas. Bought: elegant cream puffs, which can be purchased in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Also note that the party featured a catered item, as well as a delicious dessert made by Camille’s mom. The bottom line: you don’t have to cook and prepare everything on your own.
Prepare Some Items the Night Before
Folks, I wouldn’t have made it through the last couple of gatherings I hosted if I hadn’t begun preparing food the night before. One favorite “night before” concoction? Iced tea. After all, if you have to brew it hot, you will need to provide plenty of time for it to cool in the fridge. And there’s nothing like waking up the morning of a gathering to realize “the drinks are ready to go!” [image by Nusrat Azim, from Eye of the Beholder
I’ve also gotten into the habit of slicing produce the night before so it’s ready to go. This includes citrus fruit that will garnish the drinks, strawberries that will be served with dessert, and vegetables that will be sauteed in a pan as part of the main course. That way, as the event approaches, all you have to do is cook and assemble. Chopping items can be time consuming. Take that factor out of the equation for the big day. [from Spoons to Sporks]
Relish Your Signature Entertaining Style
Today’s final party tip for easy, artful entertaining involves knowing what you enjoy and do well, then using it to put your stamp on the evening. For example, I always arrange and display my party glasses in rows, pre-filling some with ice and mint (for water and tea) and others with special goodies like peach puree (so guests can mix their own bellinis). This cuts down on the time I spend serving guests their drinks and makes it easy for them to take the reigns. Below we see Prosecco Sparkling Wine glasses from Crate & Barrel:
Finally, I have a signature appetizer that is easy to prepare and lovely to look at, thanks to pink peppercorns and sumac. Crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, then pour them onto a plate with the sumac. Roll a log of goat cheese in the mixture, and you have a rosy, seasoned treat. If you want to take it up a notch, you can add gold flakes and dried rose petals, as shown below with this Pink, Gold and Delicious Goat Cheese Appetizer from Cupcakes & Cutlery:
Are there party planning tips that I’ve missed? What tried and true entertaining pointers help make your events magical ones? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…