Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Gatherings

Even though summer doesn't start officially for a few weeks.  It takes off in our minds this weekend.  I know many of you are looking forward to the lazy days ahead.  Summer is the perfect time to gather family and friends together.  This can be somewhat stressful, and we do NOT want stress in the summer!  I thought I would give you a few tips to make your get-togethers not only fun for your guests, but you as well.

1. Call and invite your guests 3-4 weeks in advance if at all possible and set a date.  If your guest asks if they can bring something, say thank you and YES.  This helps you out and lets them contribute to the occasion.
Good ideas would be: beverages, chips and salsa, fresh fruit, salad, or dessert  Let them know you will call and confirm the time and what they can bring a week before.

2. Plan your menu. I try to make our summer menus pretty relaxed and carefree nothing too fancy, but make sure you have plenty of food and beverages.  Bring out the grill!  The possibilities are endless with this tool.  Everything from appetizers to dessert.  Make sure you have enough gas/charcoal.  Enlist the help from the men in your life, they love fire.  Also take advantage of your grocery store.  You can purchase all sorts of dips, olives, cheeses, etc...these little things make life easier for you.  Here is a sample of a recent summer menu that we served:

Water,  Izzy sodas, Sparkling Wine (guest)
Olives, Hummus and pita bread (purchased)
Assorted gourmet sausages
Kettle Potato chips
Salted Caramel brownies (homemade)

See how easy that is!  I made the brownies in advance and Brian grilled up the sausages.  Everything else was purchased, but it was still a really nice meal.

3. Clean your home.  I know ugh!  This is again, where you enlist help and do as much as you can in advance.  Try to do a "deep clean" a week ahead of time.  This would include: mopping, the bathroom, vacuum, dusting, and general pick up.  Katie and Ian are in charge of picking up their rooms.  The only thing I don't ask them to do is clean the bathroom and mop.  The day of your gathering pick up your home, vacuum, and wipe down the mirror and sink in the bathroom that your guests will use.

4.  Enjoy the outdoors.  If you have a patio, large yard,deck or porch have your meal outside.  It makes your gathering more festive and relaxed.  Plus it's summer you want to be outside.

5. The table. I like to use linens, I think it makes a nice statement without being fussy.  Over the years I have collected different tablecloths and napkins.  I mix and match according to the occasion.  I also like to use white dinner plates that can go in the dishwasher and flatware.  Again I think it makes the table look special, but if paper and plastic are your thing go for it.  I'm very low maintenance about the centerpiece.  I might use a potted plant, daisies in mason jars or just candles.  If you grow flowers use those.
6. Does your guest list include kids?  What will they be doing so they don't get bored? My two love water.  Water guns, balloons, pool, or just the hose will do.  Outdoor games, balls,bats,etc.  Bubbles are fun for little ones or even sidewalk chalk.  Make sure to tell your guests to dress appropriately.  If it, games, wii, drawing/coloring.

7. Music.  itunes, pandora, or even cd's.  Make sure it is fun and festive and have your playlist ready to last the entire evening.

8.  Do as much meal prep as possible the night before.  This way your kitchen stays tidy and you have less to do the day of.

9.  Checklist.  Have one with all of the the tasks you need to do.  This way you don't forget anything.

10.  Most important have fun!  Because you have done so much ahead you don't need to be frantic.  Take a nice long shower.  Dress comfortably in something nice and cool.  I like to have everything done 30 minutes before guests arrive, this way I am nice and calm and ready to enjoy the evening.

I hope these tips help you enjoy your summer gatherings!  If you have any questions or can think of anything that I forgot please let me know in the comments.



lvankuiken said...

Great list!

We have a pool and so tend to have lots of gatherings in the summer. I've learned that when people ask me what they can bring I should tell them! Pot luck types of get-togethers are more fun for everyone, although it took me a long time to get over my "type a" tendencies and stop trying to do everything myself.

Hope you have a great Memorial Day! (it sounds like fun!)

Mary said...

I can't think of a thing to add to your list Rachel. Your summer parties will go off without a hitch. I hope you enjoy the holiday weekend. Blessings...Mary

Shannon said...

I think having people over is the best way to keep your home clean! We tend to have people over nearly every weekend through summer, so we typically deep clean the house with the kids the first week of break, then boot them out! Summer is for being outdoors, right???

Jill said...

Great tips, Rachel. Let the fun begin (hoping we will have summer weather soon)!

Jackie said...

Thanks for the tips Rachel, I need all the help I can get. I'm not gifted in the hostess category. I have a beautiful deck furnished with comfy furniture, a lovely gas grill and a fairly kept up house. Now I just need to get brave and invite others to enjoy it with us. Hope you have fantastic summer full of entertaining.

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