This year, I decided to throw a kick-off to Summer party to celebrate the sun, have a chance to see my loved ones faces and grill up some delicious food. And no better date celebrates the warm and sunny season and the great country we live in better than Independence Day. With that said, my first step in planning the perfect event is to: set the date. I like to choose the date at least 1 month prior to give guests a chance to add it to their calendars and for you to start to get an idea of guest count. This is especially important in Summer when people often plan vacations, weekend getaways and family functions well in advance.
Now, that the date is set it’s time to choose a great invitation. Gone are those vintage days of the handwritten invite and to some a social media blast is a welcomed replacement, but I like to customize my invite on an invitation design site like Evite, or my personal favorite, paperless post. With so many options to choose from and user-friendly navigation and you can have a customized invite, import a guest list and have it sent out in less than an hour. Here’s a sample of my red, white and blue-themed invite for this year’s soiree:
Choose a date and a festive invitation..check and check! Now, on to the menu..what will people eat? Since, Summer is all about being out of doors, a cookout-themed party is always appropriate. Some of my favorite grilling season essentials are potato salad (my mom’s recipe), chicken and shrimp skewers, grilled veggies and the always patriotic burger. This year, I added a new favorite to the menu: a yummy roasted corn salad that I found on Pinterest. It’s a traditional Mexican street corn salad, also known as esquites, and I added smoked paprika (because I add it to everything!), cumin and some cayenne pepper for an extra kick!
I like to have food and drinks all over the place when entertaining at home because it promotes mingling. This cheese tray was made on a large cutting board and welcomed guests as they arrived. It invited them to try a mix of different flavors and the invitation to use their hands set a fun tone from the start.
One thing that I’ve learned from hosting parties, is it’s very easy to get trapped in the kitchen the day of and not be able to socialize with your guests. I remember my house warming party when I had a very intricate menu planned that required me to run back and forth to the oven. I had guests arrive and say hello and then say goodbye before I had a chance to have a conversation with them.
So, my next tip is to delegate the task of cooking to someone other than you. I hired a Chef, but if that isn’t in your budget ask a close friend who loves to cook or co-host the party with someone and take turns in the kitchen. If none of these options are possible, make sure your menu is one that can be prepped early or even the night before to minimize your time away from the party.
Once your menu and food prep is all figured out, you can then move on to drinks. I like to buy several bottles of red and white wines and have one specialty cocktail. Have fun with the cocktail and make it work with the color scheme of the party… you can even give it a custom name. This time around I rehydrated dried habiscus flowers, and added vodka, and simple syrup. The refreshing result had a deep purple color and tasted great topped with sugared strawberries and blueberries. I love having some drinks poured and set on a tray near the entrance because who doesn’t want to be greeted with a cocktail?
Since we are already talking about the day of the party, lets talk decor! If throwing a fete for a particular holiday I suggest waiting til at least the weekend before to buy decorations because that’s when most places will be marking them down. One store that’s know for this is, Michaels. They often run a 50% off sale the week before a holiday in order to get rid of excessive inventory. One simple and inexpensive way to dress up your home without overspending on decor is to use flowers. Pick a color story and stick to it using a variety of types and shapes. Here’s a look at my red, white and blue bouquets which were scattered around the house along with the table decor and food!
I hope my tips will help you plan a great party this Summer and whether it be inside or outside, remember to relax and have a good time!