Tuesday, July 14, 2009

15 Tips for Easy Summer Entertaining

Summertime and the Living is Easy...

All July we've been sharing our tips for simple and chic summer shindigs in our weekly newsletter Trocadero Tidbits . Check out our complete list of suggestions this week as we end our list.
15. Themes aren't just for children's birthday parties, but also for the detail-oriented individual. Choose a theme like "Mediterranean Soiree" and carry it out in everything from the decor to the invitations to the food. Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey: The Mediterranean Flavors of Sardinia by Efisio Farris is full of tasty, authentic dishes.
14. Utilize the great outdoors with a backyard bash. Just be sure to have both sunny and shady areas for your guests and if entertaining at dusk, be sure to take care of problems like bugs with a natural deterrent like a lavender candle from Diptyque or more traditionally with Tiki torches and candles with citronella.
13. Use bright splashes of color to create a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Kikkerland's "Sing Sing" plastic dinner trays add a unique touch to any setting and are the perfect indoor and outdoor buffet line plate.

12. Bring out your inner Ina Garten. Yeah, sure, some of the Barefoot Contessa's recipes look hard to replicate but we have this easy, light salad made with fennel and oranges that will impress your dining companions. Take 2-4 fennel bulbs and chop into bite-sized pieces. Peel 3 oranges and slice into slivers. Mix with 2 oz of arugula. Combine and whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of 2 lemons, kosher/sea salt and freshly ground pepper and pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Serves around 6.
11. Create a "Signature" Drink. Instead of having to play bartender (or hire one), fill pitchers with a summery cocktail for guests to serve themselves. Just be sure to have plenty of ice on hand. We love this recipe for Clementine Margaritas from chef Todd English and actress Eva Longoria. The cocktail reminds us of combining Bond No. 9's "Little Italy" with "Coney Island" -- yum!

10. Create instant conversation starters. Encourage dialogue and mingling by playing an after dinner game. Try writing hot topics on small pieces of paper and filling a large bowl with them, pass the bowl around the table and have each guest start off the discussion on a topic. This activity is sure to keep friends entertained long after the food is gone.
9. Here's a quick start to a first course. Use the bounty of the season, and serve a chilled soup. All you need is fresh fruit and herbs, heavy cream, and a blender, and you are set for a dish that is as refreshing as it is filling.

8. Let Your Stomach be Your Guide. Be resourceful by using items you already have around the house for table decor. Filling clear bowls or vases with fruit makes for a fail-proof centerpiece and an appetizing treat for the eyes.
7. Get to Know the Neighbors. Co-host a 5-course "block party" with your fellow homeowners/apartment dwellers. Start at home #1 for appetizers and move onto the next for soup, the third for salad and so forth. If you're a wine connoisseur, create special pairings with each course. Perhaps start with an Italian Prosecco and end with a French Muscat. And with no driving, it's not only safe but also eco-friendly. Eat, drink and be merry!
6. You've Got Mail. Email invites just got revolutionized by
Paperless Post. These stylish and eco-friendly invites resemble fine stationery and are sent to your guests in a virtual envelope that even opens with a click of the mouse. Finally, the elegance of handwritten invitations is back and more convenient.

5. Bring the Ocean to your backyard. Create a beach theme in your home or backyard by decorating with items from the shoreline. Set the table with beach pails filled with condiments, silverware, or napkins, and decorate with picnic baskets and scattered seashells. To enhance the beachy atmosphere, burn a Diptyque Feu De Bois (firewood) or Essence of John Galliano candle (which has notes of Birchwood) to give the feel of a bonfire without the hastle of one.

4. One pot wonder. Nothing says summer on the beach like a New England clam bake. Since Omaha is a little far from the ocean, the traditional method of cooking it on the beach forms a challenge; so try an in-the-kitchen version like this one from Home By Design.
3. Spend a night overseas. Take a tour of the foreign beaches of St. Tropez or Biarritz with a menu of French seafood. Take a venture from the typical ocean cravings and try recipes from Eric Kayser's New French Recipes.
2. Take the party on the road. Lighten your load of responsibilities by taking advantage of festivities already going on in the community. Grab some friends, pack up a picnic basket and head to a summer music festival like Jazz on the Green to enjoy dinner and a show.
1. Create an instant dual purpose party-favor. Buy a dozen glass bowls and a dozen betta fish and use them as decorative touches on cocktail tables. Then at the end of the night, guests can choose a fish bowl to take home.

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