One of my favorite parts of hosting is laying the table. But what about the shopping, chopping, and washing up? Not really. In order to take advantage of the pleasant weather, abundant garden blooms, and convenient outdoor grill, my boyfriend and I do the bulk of our entertaining in the summer.
My role at barbecues consists primarily of ensuring that everyone has something cold to drink, while my husband acts as DJ and grill master. We had no access to the outdoors when we lived in the city only a few short years ago.
Our entertaining skills have been fine-tuned over the past three summers, and we’ve mastered some time-saving techniques that have earned us a solid reputation as barbecue pros. This is how I rally the troops.
The First Add more plates to the table.
I have a mountain of platters that I’ve collected over the years, but I only use a handful of them because they coordinate well and can withstand the elements when used outdoors. The rest I supplement with Chinet Classic White platters. My husband always has a plentiful supply on hand, as we keep a stack near the grill for when the food is done cooking. In addition, having additional platters is helpful for when guests bring unanticipated but welcome additions.
Plan ahead and marinate for number two.
We use the grill all summer long because almost everything is enhanced by being cooked over open flames. The night before a party, I like to marinate the meats and seasonal vegetables to enhance their flavor and save time in the morning.
No. 3 Design edible arrangements as appetizer “bouquets.”
Instead of making my own dip, I use a favorite store-bought variety and put a large scoop into a cup made of Chinet Cut Crystal. Then I make a bouquet in the dip out of pre-cut vegetables like baby carrots, grape tomatoes, green beans, and bell peppers. So that my guests have something to snack on while waiting for dinner, I put them in the fridge an hour before they arrive.
Add some greenery for aesthetic purposes.
When hosting an outdoor party, I prefer to use potted plants in place of flowers. The patio is surrounded by potted flowers, herbs, and edibles because my daughters and I spend most Saturdays putting in new plants. Just let me grab a few and bring them over here. They can also be a thoughtful send-off present for loved ones back at home.
Five, Get people to order more.
The best barbecues are the ones where everyone is constantly getting up for more food or another round of bocce. To ease the flow, I jot each friend’s name on a Chinet Classic White plate with food-safe markers. So no one has to wonder what happened to their food after a game of badminton!
No.6 Dress up your condiments like fine dining.
The best way to serve condiments like guacamole, salsa, and sour cream is in individual cups or bowls that can be grouped together on a Lazy Susan or decorative serving tray. It’s a cute way to help your friends personalize their meal, and they’ll appreciate the convenience.
The seventh suggestion is to make dessert on your own.
I prefer to serve something that gets everyone up and moving around and having a good time. The key is to provide the building blocks, such as chocolate chip cookies and ice cream toppings, for your guests to create their own unique desserts. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day and keeps me from having to endure the oppressive heat. Small Chinet Classic White dessert plates are a staple in my home as well. We certainly won’t be washing dishes after the party is over.
Eighth Put away the shaker until tomorrow.
It’s not fun to have to keep getting up and moving around to get new drinks. Water and pre-mixed drinks like Watermelon Sangria, Arnold Palmers, and Basil Lemonade are always available in carafes at my parties. Not only does it make my life easier to have my friends fill their own cups, but it also makes them more at ease. Win-win!
Before everyone leaves, decide when the next one will be.
The summer is just as crazy as the other three seasons for all of us. Declare no one can head out before you make a date for the next time you see your gang to make sure you see them again before Labor Day and to avoid sending 65 texts to make it happen!