5 Ideas for Summer Entertaining Made Easy
Long summer days and entertaining go hand-in-hand. After all, we might as well celebrate the extra hours of sunlight by kicking back with a few of our favorite people while enjoying a refreshing cocktail and tasty nibbles. Take your summer soiree from just fun to, ahem, funtastic with these 5 clever ideas.
Set Up a Popcorn Bar
Flynnside Out Productions
Whether due to food sensitivities or picky palates, serving a crowd-pleasing snack that won’t bust your budget can be tough. Enter the serve-yourself popcorn bar. Lactose- and gluten-free, air-popped popcorn is a low-cal/high-fiber snack that most everyone enjoys. Pair freshly-popped kernels with sweet and savory toppings and let guests help themselves.
Popcorn: Always a Crowd-Pleaser
Seriously, who doesn't like popcorn. It's crunchy, salty and endlessly munchable. Delight guests young and old with a popcorn bar stocked with all their favorite sweet and savory toppings so everyone can whip up a totally custom creation.
Craft These (Cute!) Cones
Instead of serving your guests out of standard plastic bowls, use our free printable to turn inexpensive card stock into decorative paper cones. To create them, enlarge this template by 50 percent, then print onto legal-size copier paper. Transfer the template to 12x12 card stock and cut out. Use a craft knife to cut a slit opposite the tab. Once assembled, further secure them with tape.
Don't Forget the Sweet Stuff
Have you ever put M&Ms in your popcorn? No?! Well, you should try it. Sweet and savory always pair well together and nothing tops mixing a crunchy texture, like popcorn, with the smooth creaminess of chocolate. Provide a mix of bite-size sweets so guests can try out this taste sensation for themselves.
Try Boozy Frozen Desserts
Flynnside Out Productions
What would summer be without a frosty frozen dessert? And, what’s a party without a few adult beverages? Combine the two and beat the heat with this refreshing red wine sorbet.
Make This: Red Wine Strawberry Sorbet
Make an (Easy!) Centerpiece
Springtime Serving Vessels
No vessels laying around the house? No problem. Sometimes the best floral containers are those repurposed from everyday objects. For a fun and flirty springtime look, add wildflowers and fruit wheels to a clear glass vase. In order for the fruit wheels to sit up straight, you’ll need to add the floral bunch inside of the pitcher, then drop the fruit wheels in between the bunch and the glass.
A beautiful centerpiece makes any get-together feel more special, but they can be pricey. No worries, we have 10 ideas for DIY-ing a florist-worthy centerpiece on the cheap, like this bright arrangement featuring wildflowers and citrus slices.
Repurpose Old Paint Cans
Don't toss that old paint can, instead put it to work as a colorful container for a cheery centerpiece. Just be sure to place the flowers in a vase before setting the arrangement in the paint can to prevent any of the chemicals in the paint from leaching into the water.
Magnolia Leaves + Faux Berries = An Arrangement That'll Last
For a low centerpiece that's long on rustic charm, mix fresh magnolia leaves with sprigs of faux berries in an old wooden crate. First, fill the crate with dry floral foam, then cut the magnolia branches to size and push the stems into the foam. Fill in any bare spaces between the leaves with berries. Finally, conceal the floral foam with a layer of Spanish moss or excelcior.
Take that antique glass candy jar or jewelry box out of the china cabinet and put it to work as a chic centerpiece. Just fill with wet floral foam that has been soaked till saturated, cut roses to size and push their stems into the wet foam. Don't forget to keep the foam wet for a lasting arrangement.
We all probably have a few pieces of vintage silverplate hidden away, just collecting dust. Dig them out of the cupboard, give them a light polish then put them to use as beautiful containers for spring bulbs. Plant the bulb directly in the container and top with a layer of moss or river rock.
Just like fruit, vegetables are a great alternative to flowers thanks to their wide variety of colors, shapes and textures. For this arrangement, we used a mix of cauliflower, artichokes and mushrooms, then filled in the gaps with fresh rosemary sprigs. The veggies are heavy so to arrange them like a pro, first add a block of wet floral foam (that has been thoroughly soaked) to the container. Use florist wire and tape to securely attach the cauliflower and artichoke stems to a short wooden dowel, then push the dowels into the foam. Fill in with mushrooms and fresh rosemary sprigs.
Add a playful touch to your centerpiece with colorful candy. The trick is to use 2 containers, one slightly smaller than the other. Place the smaller container within the larger, then fill the outer container with candy and the inner container with water and cut flowers.
Baby’s breath is an inexpenisve flower that's often used as filler in grocery store bouquets. Give this underrated bloom the chance to take center stage as a rustic centerpiece. Keep your arrangement mounded and low and place the blooms in a casual container -- like an old metal can.
Just Add Party Games
Flynnside Out Productions
Backyard games are a surefire way to break the ice between guests who may be meeting for the first time. Badminton, croquet, bocce or horseshoes are all safe bets — or, using basic woodworking skills and our instructions, you can turn a wood pallet into a DIY game.
Learn to Take Your Party Anywhere
Wheel Barrel Cooler
Instead of opening and closing a big, old, clunky, plastic cooler at the tailgate party, pack a wheel barrel in the back of the truck, wheel it a few feet away from the truck, and then fill it with ice and beverages. This will also free up valuable space in the back for serving food or offering guests more spots to sit and relax.
Flynnside Out Productions
We all equate tailgates with fall football season, but kids’ soccer games and long summer days spent at the beach or lake are equally good times to take the party on the road.
Provide Collapsible Seating
Most guests will stand at a tailgate but after hours of food prep, you'll appreciate having a few spots to sit down and relax. Collapsible leather stools are not only comfortable, they're also easy on the eyes. Pick up a few and keep them safely stowed in your trunk. Since they take up very little room when collapsed, you won't have to sacrifice much of your vehicle's storage space.
Keep Guests Cozy
As the sun goes down, temps can drop drastically. Keep your guests warm with a basket filled with woven throws. In addition to offering cold-weather comfort, blankets are another opportunity to work your team colors into the party.
Turn a Wheelbarrow Into a Mobile Cooler
Instead of a standard plastic cooler, chill drinks in a wheelbarrow a few feet away from your vehicle's tailgate to free up valuable space in the back for serving food or offering guests more spots to sit and relax.
Label Menu Items
Save yourself precious party time explaining what each platter is by marking your culinary creations with moss, toothpicks and tiny paper flags. This way, guests can easily find the foods they like, freeing you up to mingle and get your pre-game party on.
Chili A Go-Go
Just before heading out, pack your favorite chili recipe into lidded mason jars, use twine to tie a disposible spoon onto each, then pack the jars inside a thermal tote to keep them warm. When you arrive at the stadium, serve the chili to your guests on a tiered tray.
S'mores on a Stick
Pre-make s'mores by placing marshmallows on wooden skewers, dip each in melted chocolate then roll in graham cracker crumbs. The bite-size snacks will offer guests the taste of the campfire classic without the need to prepare them fireside.
As the party comes to a close and everyone prepares to go root on the home team, give your guests a tailgate survival kit packed with cold soda, sunscreen, trail mix, napkins and moist towelettes. The kit will also come in handy when the game is over and your squad heads back to the truck for a post-game celebration.
Serve Snacks Singly
Serve your sweet and savory snacks in a rustic bucket packed with brown paper bags filled with favorites like popcorn, pretzels and chocolate candies. When the party heads into the stadium, guests can each grab a brown bag of their favorite snack to enjoy while watching the game.