The simplicity of enjoying fresh grown food around a table with friends is something Southerners do so well. -Julia Reed, writer, author, party planner
Entertaining, gardening, cooking – these are part of our Southern culture. The ability to grow so many vegetables and then use that food to gather friends and family around a table, it is tradition that should be cherished much more so than reservations at a fancy restaurant. It is an opportunity to show love and laugh, whether it is under the canopy of a dining room chandelier or outdoors with stars and fireflies lighting the night sky. Summertime makes this tradition of entertaining easy with an abundance of fresh food in season (some you do not even have to cook, think Caprese Salad) and so many fresh flowers in bloom.
Here are summer dinner party ideas and a few recipes that are easy to pull together:
- Flowers – Instead of balloons, streamers, or other manufactured party decor, opt for fresh flowers. Chances are you have some in your own yard or you have friends with flowers;)! Also search your local farmers market, you can find gorgeous flowers at a fraction of the cost, plus you get to support a local farmer in the process! Pile all the flowers in a big vase for a stunning display of summer beauty!
- Lanterns – Dining al fresco requires candlelight, find affordable lanterns at Pier1Imports.
- Choose A Color Scheme – Summer’s most popular color scheme – red, white, and blue of course! This makes it easy to plan how you are going to set the table, what napkins you will choose, and even lends itself to choosing a signature cocktail in this color scheme.
- Crystal – You may prefer to use plastic outdoors, but I love pulling out the crystal any chance I get. Remember the more you use it, the more comfortable you are with it.
- Ribbon Napkin Holders – Toss the typical napkin holders for simple ribbon tied around the napkin. If you have fresh flowers blooming in the garden, tie some up in the ribbon as well.
- Fresh Food – Stick to serving fresh, local food that is easy to prepare and does not require lots of steps. Maybe you have a friend trying get rid of an abundance of garden vegetables, maybe you visit a local farmers market, or maybe you have a garden yourself – use what is fresh and this will help determine the menu and ensure an absolutely delicious meal.
- Infused Water – Pour water into a pitcher or pitchers and then add cut watermelon, cucumbers, and/or lemon, this will be a refreshing treat and is beyond easy to do.
- Signature Cocktail – You may want to offer beer and wine, but pre-make a signature cocktail that guests can pour themselves. With blueberries in season, I chose to make a blueberry smash. It is simple to make and can be made in advance.