Now that the spring
is (not) around the corner and summer (not) so far away, let’s turn our attention to a great idea for summer entertaining — the classic garden party (for when it comes!).
If you’re going to entertain in the summer — and who doesn’t love summer parties — embrace our fleeting European summer and do it outdoors. You don’t have to have a huge space to have a successful garden party but you do have to plan ahead.
Take a realistic look at the space you have to entertain and start your planning there. Do you want a stand-up affair, casual, optional seating or a more formal, sit-down affair? Based on what you decide how many can you accommodate comfortably?
Now, take control of the setting. Look at your space from the perspective of someone who doesn’t see it every day. Is it filled with kids’ toys, old tools and empty pots from plants that died last year that just got set aside? Plan to de-clutter and tidy your space so it’s cleaner and more open.
Now you can add things back in. If it’s a daytime party think of decorations to accent the fact that it’s a garden party. Make sure if you have a garden that it has elements that will be in bloom or add pots of flowers for extra color here and there. If there isn’t a garden, you can add pots of flowers or vegetable plants to create the setting you want.
Keep it simple but use your imagination. If the party will be at night think lighting to create the mood. Whether you go with candles, white miniature lights or lanterns, the space you light will be your oasis under the stars and separate you from the dark around. Remember if you’re going for elegant, then simple and classic is best. If you’re looking for more of a whimsical theme, you can do pretty much anything.
If you’re thinking paper plates — don’t. A simple way to add a touch of class to an outdoor affair is with dishes to suit the occasion. If you don’t want your fancy china outside, and let’s face it, you may not, there are plenty of options in plastics that can work just as well. If you’re going for a formal feel over fun, keep the lines and patterns simple rather than whimsical and the colors subtle rather than beachy. Or, for an even more formal feel, you may be able to rent dishes from a party supplier. These dishes can have the look and feel of higher quality dinnerware but tend to be more durable than what you may have at home.
Now, let’s think food. As much as anything else you’ve planned or done, the food you serve will set the mood. Dishing out hot dogs and potato salad for instance instantly gives a different message than grilled butterfly shrimp laid across a medallion of tenderloin with a side of wild mushrooms. A party centered around appetizers and choice beverages can be a great way to make even a simple get-together more special.
Throw some fancy appetizers together with a sparking fruit punch in fancy glasses and you’ve got a high class event whoever the guests and whatever the occasion.
Summer will be short. Get out and enjoy it when you can.