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Simple Summer party planning tips


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Last weekend I was asked to present my simple and stylish home entertaining tips for a brand new neighborhood up in Valencia, CA. With summer entertaining upon us, I wanted to share some tips on how you can easily plan and prepare a simple yet stylish party in your home that can even includes the kids. Summer entertaining is typically pretty casual and laid back so pulling together a last-minute get together is easy, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Simple & Stylish Entertaining Tips

The Occasion

What are you celebrating? If you don’t have a specific theme such as a Hawaiian Luau, American BBQ or Superhero Birthday, you can simply set the theme by finding inspiration from a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a colorful napkin, the main food dish, or even a fun cocktail. Sometimes all it takes is something as simple as the stripes on the plates and the party theme just evolves from that.

The invitation will also set the mood of the event. Today, some invitations will come to you in the form of a text message or an invitation on Facebook.  Although, if it is a more formal affair I suggest sending at least a digital invitation or even a classic paper invite via snail mail.  No matter what the reason for the get together you still need to put a little thought into the planning and preparation before your guests arrive.

Hansen's natural Soda

The Preparation

Take inventory of what you already have. Many times you will already have napkins, plates, utensils or decorations you can use again.  We always tend to buy more then what we need so keeping left over party supplies in a specific place all together is a good idea.

Pull out all your serving platters, bowls and entertaining utensils. Grab all your table cloths and table runners, chances are you already have plenty of items that you can use. Make sure you also have pitchers for ice tea, water and lemonade.

If you do need to buy something it is best to go with neutral colors or white serving bowls and platters because you can easily re-use them for any party or event. If you invest in some seasonal table cloths, runners and napkins just remember you have them and that you can use them year after year.

Summer entertaining is pretty casual so you can use paper plates to lighten up on clean up and doing less dishes, but I suggest buying quality plates that are a bit sturdier. Unless this is a more formal sit down dinner for a smaller group, then please use real plates and utensils.  No one wants to cut there steak on a paper plate;)

Simple & Stylish Entertaining Flowers

The Decorations

Less is sometimes more but flowers are a must for every party. They can instantly dress up a table or add a pop of color to a display of food.  I buy a few different bouquets from Trader Joes or the farmers market and then split them up and make my own arrangements. You can get more arrangements when you divide them up.

Buy vases from the dollar store or small inexpensive ceramic pitchers from places like Home Goods to use as a vase.  I like to gift these arrangements to people as they leave, it’s a great way to say thank you for coming. {Grandma’s especially love taking home the centerpieces}

Let the food is the decoration! A variety of fruit and veggies is not only the easiest food to prepare but for a summertime event, bowls filled with fruit and serving platters of vegetables make for a very colorful and edible display.

Fruit and Wine Summer

The Food Sampling Menu

Give them something to talk about!  By offering a few things to sample you give guests a conversation starter about and the experience of tasting something maybe they’ve never had before.  I created my favorite Cracker Barrel Cheese pairing for this demonstration and everyone went nuts over how much it really tasted like a perfect bite of cheesecake!

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Summer Cheese Pairing – Cheesecake

Cracker Barrel Cheese Aged Reseve
Chocolate wafer crackers or Ginger Cookies from Trader Joe’s
Dried Cherries, Strawberries or Cranberries
White Chocolate
Almond

By presenting a cheese plate with a variety of ingredients it gives people the option to explore and create the perfect flavor for them. There is no wrong way to do a cheese pairing. Fill a platter with crackers, cheese, meats, fruits, nuts, jams and honey and let them create their own unique flavors.  Encourage them to mix ingredients they might not have thought about putting together.  You can also set up pre-made pairings, forcing them to just take one and try what is already put together for them.

You can keep the sampling going with mini sandwiches, burgers or a variety of pizza’s. You could also choose three wines or three beers and encourage sampling or pairing with all the bite size food.  Usually in the summer beer and wine will do just fine but you could also have one or two signature cocktails that you mix up special for the party for guests to try.

To keep the food sampling theme going, you can pick up a variety of gelato flavors for dessert and dish up small samples for your guests to enjoy and share their favorite flavor. People always love to vote for their favorite of anything!

Kids Table

The Kids

Create a designated kids table. Use butcher paper to cover the table and lay out crayons and dot art markers for them to decorate and scribble all over the table. You can also have them each decorate a brown paper bag and later have them use their bags to go on a scavenger hunt (hide little toys throughout the backyard for them to find) or they can fill their bags with candy, if you set up a mini candy buffet for them.

Instead of filling giant bowls of snacks fill up small containers so the kids can just grab and go.  This is also nicer then having a bunch of dirty little hands all grabbing into the same bowl or touching the adults fruit bowl. Fill these with goldfish, pretzels, animal crackers, fruit or a nut mix.  (Be careful of kids with allergies) You can also do this with the veggies for adults too.

Kids Containers for parties

Veggie Cups for Kids
Kids will eat healthy food if it looks fun. Put the veggies in a cup already pre-filled with ranch.  This can be done with many other food items as well, apples and carmel, cheese and crackers, or ketchup and french fries.  Leaving these snacks at the kids table is great because they can serve themselves and not keep asking mom or dad to help them get more.

Two great summertime desserts for the kids are root beer floats and strawberry shortcake. They are so simple, less heavy than cakes and cupcakes and won’t make a huge sticky mess. Another fun one is kids dirt dessert, which is chocolate pudding, Oreo cookie crumbles and gummy worms.

Everyone loves a great party or get together in the summer time and it doesn’t have to be over the top or extravagant. Don’t feel pressure to do it all either, you can ask your guests to each bring a favorite dish or their favorite bottle of wine. People want to come for the company and conversation. Don’t fuss about too many details and don’t create a meal that will keep you away from your guests. Remember, less is sometimes more.

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Disclosure:  I am working as a brand ambassador for Cracker Barrel Cheese.  This is a series of sponsored content.  All my savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are my own. I share this with you because I love to share creative party planning tips and I honestly love this cheese!

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Author | Andrea Fellman


Andrea Fellman is a Mom who hasn't lost her style to motherhood. Andrea is the owner and editor-in-chief of Savvy Sassy Moms. She also contributes weekly to BabyCenter's Blog, a Los Angeles iVoice for ivillage.com, has run the social media and blog for the children's retailer the Right Start, and is now living in Costa Rica. Connect with me on Google+

4 Comments
  • April 30, 2013

    Love these ideas, Andrea! The kids area was adorable and I think cheese is ALWAYS a great idea for a get together!

  • April 30, 2013

    I love the veggies in tiny cups! How clever! Our family is having a big baby shower for us in my husband’s home state Illinois. We decided to have a mini shower for our few friends in Philadelphia, and I will use these tips and ideas for our own planning. xo

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