School is out and summer has officially begun! But don’t worry there’s no homework here. It’s time to soak in the sun, enjoy the outdoors, and host family and friends. Wait, does that mean YOU have to host? It’s easier than you think if you go in prepared but remember – have fun and roll with it. Your guests don’t know what was supposed to happen, but they will remember how you made them feel, so be sure to enjoy your time with them. Here is your guide to better summer hosting. Effortless summer hosting! Ok it may not be effortless, but we promise it will be painless and worth the time.
Plan ahead. I know you’ve heard this before but for summer events, it’s especially important. With vacations and more family time planned during July and August, you want to secure the date in your guests’ calendars before they are full with summer plans.
Pro tip: If you have a ton of guests to coordinate, consider sending a Doodle.com poll to pick the best date. This online tool allows you to offer multiple dates and let guests select the date(s) that work best for them. Majority wins - pick the date that has the most availability based on the responses collected. Date, check. Next, menu.
Menu Prep. When it comes to food and beverage planning, here’s a quick guide to portions. If you plan to serve appetizers and dinner, plan for 3-4 appetizer pieces per person. BUT if you choose appies all night, plan for 10-12 pieces per person. Choose an assorted variety of hot and cold appetizers including a dip and/or platter (raw or roasted veggies, locally sourced charcuterie, summer fruit and yogurt dip or chilled prawns with lemon and cocktail sauce for example).
One of our favorite party platters is our Mexican layered dip. This works well for gluten free using corn chips, vegetarian and our egg-free guests. What makes this work well is that you can also make it without dairy, so it works for so many on the allergy list. Consider doing half with dairy or making two versions if most guests can eat dairy, there’s just something about cheese! Haha…Bonus points if you make it over Stampede! Yahoo…Mosaic's Mexican Layer Dip
If BBQ is more your style, have at least one or two meat options and a grilled vegetarian option on top of the salad or veg so again the vegetarians don’t feel like they are just “stuck with salad”.
Pro tip: Scent your charcoal with herbs and spices. Place sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme or other fresh herbs on your rocks for a deliciously smoky spin on a traditional marinade. Just don’t forget to remove them once the grill is cool.
For beverages, the classic beer and wine work but there is nothing wrong with BYOB for summer. Ask guests to bring their own beverages and serve them a fun welcome cocktail upon arrival. Always have a non-alcoholic option that’s not just plain water or sugary pop. A punch bowl of water topped with orange slices and mint, or watermelon cubes and lime slices provide non-drinkers a fun option too. Other combos include pineapple and mint, strawberry and peach, or lemon, lime and orange slices. Be careful with all citruses though, don’t leave slices in there for hours without being replenished. The off-putting taste of the pith from the rind will taint the water bitter if left in too long.
For the cocktail drinkers, there is something so summer about a refreshing cold beverage. We’re sharing a few of our favourite summer cocktails which any work perfectly for a welcome cocktail:
The Blushing French 75
The Blackberry Bourbon
The Mezcal Paloma
The Blushing 75
Prep. When it comes down to event day, get as much prepped and made ahead of time. Choose platters and dips that can be made the morning of (that Mexican dip can be stored in the fridge for hours, and the fruit water only gets better with time so make that bad boy ahead of time too). Try not to choose dishes that involve a lot of finishing or tending to. Fancy dishes may feel upscale, but you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Save those “must try” fancy dishes for when you’re not hosting.
Set the scene. Music, check. Lighting, check. But did you consider all the other nice little touches to set the scene and your gathering a part? Make sure you have hangers and room in your closet for shoes and coats. Make sure washrooms are stocked and music is on before arrival. Have the dishwasher empty for quick loading or consider compostable food ware. Have recycling and garbage containers visible and easy to access. If you plan to have guests outside, stock up on bug spray or citronella candles to keep bugs at bay. A bottle of sunscreen and hand sanitizer on the tables are a must!
If you plan on eating inside, set the table the night before for one less thing to do the day-of. Martha has the lock down on the formal table setting We aren’t as fancy and just remember the B-M-W rule. Going from left to right with your bread aka ‘B’, your meal in the middle, aka ‘M’, and your water on the right for that ‘W’. The B-M-W rule. Or follow Martha’s the formal setting below.
Last part of the guide to summer hosting: have fun! Who cares if you forgot the garnish on an appetizer or you didn’t get a chance to curate a playlist? Who cares if you planned to serve dinner right at 7 but it’s now closer to 8? Do you think they care if you “cheated” and melted ice cream instead of making a homemade crème anglaise? They don’t. What your guests ultimately care about is spending quality time with you. So don’t worry, don’t overthink, don’t rush and don’t set high expectations for yourself and the gathering – it’s you they want to see. The time that you arranged with family and friends is the sundae, the food and beverage is the whip cream and any little touches you get a chance to do will be the cherry on top!