Party Planner

Entertaining at home: Simply summer

Entertaining at home: Simply summer Author: Style At Home

Party Planner

Entertaining at home: Simply summer

Chop down that massive to-do list. Summer's here and the living is -- or should be -- easy. (Didn't you get the memo?) Al fresco entertaining is all about relaxing and enjoying company. Don't stress over the timing of each course or fret about your table linen. No need to fuss with mixed drinks. Nix scrambling between from-scratch desserts and after-dinner espresso. Read our 10 simple plan-ahead entertaining tips -- and get set to take it easy!

Ah, summer evenings: the leaves rustle, crickets chirp, and the temperature's just right for halter dresses or chinos. And sandals mean your killer pedicure won't go unnoticed. Seriously, why stress over getting everything perfect when it already is? These easy tips will get your patio ready for company in no time.

Keep it simple
White dinnerware always looks appropriate and pairs nicely with casual double-duty prep/serving pieces like rustic wood cutting boards. The easiest approach? Stick mainly with one-bite tapas-style foods -- a napkin and fingers are all you need to nosh with!

Get flowers
Fresh blooms infuse a casual get-together with instant elegance. When it comes to summer flowers, don't gild the lily: just trim a few stems from the garden and display them in glasses or bowls. Not too shabby, very chic.

Light candles
Hurricanes, votives, tea lights, patio lanterns, torches -- pick and choose from these seasonal lighting solutions and remember, everyone and everything looks gorgeous in candlelight!

Invite a motormouth or two
Maybe you wouldn't invite a conversation hog to an intimate brunch. But the start of a patio mixer where not everyone's acquainted? That‘s when your yappy, er, loquacious guest is worth his or her weight in gold. You'll stress less if you know someone else is entertaining the troops while you're in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on dinner.

Summer flowers don't need fussing over
Set a few blooms among a plate of limes for an effortlessly summer-chic look. Invest in attractive hardwood cutting boards; the multitaskers can be used to serve appetizers or a cheese course. Gripperwood Gourmet boards are made from sustainably grown sheesham wood.

As with decorating, the simpler the menu the better. Combine prepared foods with from-scratch items, and make what you can ahead of time.

Think easy sipping
Don't fuss over individual mixed drinks. Opt for one crowd-pleasing bevvy that can be mixed ahead in volume, like mojitos, sangria or Long Island iced tea. Have bottles of white and red wineon deck, and offer bottled water and microbrew soda to nondrinkers.

And easy grazing
An easy formula for casual get-togethers? Room-temp treats that needn't rush from oven to table; veggies and dip; and foods that can be cooked on the barbecue, allowing the chef to mingle. HINT: A drizzle of olive oil and some fresh herbs elevate any store-bought dip. (Read about some great menu ideas from Homemakers magazine.)

One bite = no mess
One-bite appetizers are less likely to fall apart in guests' hands -- or on their clothes. They keep lipstick fresher longer, too.

Discover fusion
Don't stress over a matchy-matchy menu. Pick accessible eats from around the world and offer a menu with something for everyone.

Go shopping
Just make what you love. Take out or buy the rest and simply plate it. Try pairing homemade espresso granita with store-bought one-bite brownies for your dessert course.

Have fun!
A happy host with time to socialize with guests makes for a more memorable event than the most picture perfect of events. Enjoy!

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Entertaining at home: Simply summer