A memorable event is more about engaging conversation and a relaxed time than almost anything else – especially in the summer. Both are easily achieved if the hostess is confident and the atmosphere is relaxed.
Here are my tips for making your next outdoor event fabulous (it could even be tonight!)
1. Choose a simple menu
Pick seasonal ingredients and room temperature dishes that require very little cooking. When you use seasonal ingredients you can use fewer, which keeps things easy. Try my recipe for a Summer Couscous Salad:
Summer Couscous Salad
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup couscous
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
½ cucumber, finely diced
¼ cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from ½ a lemon
Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan bring broth and butter to a boil. Stir in couscous quickly and remove from heat. Cover and let sit 4-5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and herbs together. Add cooked couscous to the vegetables and toss to combine. Add oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix again and serve at room temperature.
2. Cook on the grill
Take advantage of the summer weather and move cooking outside. Don’t think you are limited to just meat, vegetables can be cooked in a metal basket alongside the main dish making clean up a breeze.
3. Serve drinks in a pitcher
Having plenty of beverages (both alcoholic and non) on hand allow guests to help themselves. Just be sure to keep ice on the side so drinks aren’t watered down by the end of the evening!
Makes 4 drinks
2 cups strawberries
2 cups vodka
½ cup Chambord
Puree strawberries in a blender until smooth. Add vodka and Chambord and blend again until well mixed (1-2 minutes). Pour into a pitcher and serve in individual glasses filled with ice.
4. Light the night
It doesn’t get dark very early, but it does eventually get dark. And nothing is worse than sitting out in the dark searching for your cocktail, your plate, or your coat. Use an assortment of solar lights, candles, and even a fire pit to keep the party going after the sun has set.
Lastly, be sure to throw on a comfortable sundress and flip flops – or just go barefoot. Entertaining shouldn’t be difficult, especially in the summer. Entertaining should make your life a little lovelier and a little more fun. Enjoy yourself and enjoy summer – entertain!
Alexandra Hedin is a lifestyle and entertaining expert based in Seattle. Her simple approach to making every day lovely has made her an admired contributor to magazines and television across the west coast.
Alexandra’s debut book, Entertaining at Home features ten complete parties including menus, simple recipes, crafts and helpful tips for hosting your own event. To purchase her book, please visit www.alexandrahedin.com.
Alexandra has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Design*Sponge, and on the Seattle affiliates of CBS, ABC, and FOX. She can be found in every issue of 425 Magazine.