Bring the fun back this summer by entertaining at home!
Summer entertaining is my favorite kind--casual, relaxed, serendipitous, and plain informal, at best.
However, I find that more and more people are shying away from entertaining. Perhaps it is a result of our busier lifestyles. I don't know, I must confess to not understanding the apathy that I so often find. I am always ready for a party! In truth, those of us who relish entertaining others do so because we amuse ourselves in the process. We have fun planning everything, from the guest lists to the menu and theme of the party. If entertaining seems to be a lost art among your friends, isn't it about time you brought it back?
Photo Copyright. Sandra Gutierrez. 2008. All rights Reserved.
As the economy sends us all for a tail spin, it might not be a bad idea to eat out less and entertain at home more. You have control over your budget and with additional help from your friends, organizing a party can be inexpensive and as easy as one-two-three!
Some people come up with the most original excuses not to entertain: the kitchen is too small, the new furniture has not arrived yet, or--my personal favorite--they just don't cook. Well, I think they miss out on a chance to make significant connections with others. Spending time with my favorite people always feeds my spirit. Add good food into the equation and I am really happy! What's not to love? Good people, good food--great party! I can't do anything about the size of your kitchen or the tardiness of your furniture delivery, but I can try to relieve you of that last excuse that you "just don't cook".
Anyone can entertain without heating a pan, without even boiling water and most certainly, without and iota of cooking experience. It's called hosting a Pot-luck party, whereby you provide the home and the drinks, all serving accessories, some nice napkins and drinking vessels and invite your guests to bring along their favorite dish to share. Simple? Yes, and a lot of fun too. If you love to cook--I am going to assume you do, since you're reading a food blog--provide the main dish and let your guests bring side dishes and desserts. If you're very lucky and have like-minded friends who also love to cook, then you're in for a treat.
Here are some themed ideas for your next summer party. Come on! I just know you're dying to throw the first party in your neighborhood. If you make it look easy, you might even get a new entertaining trend started on your street. Who knows? We might change the face of America into one that loves to cook and entertain once more. Have fun, be happy and entertain your way through the summer months!
1. The Garden Party: The perfect thematic choice for ladies who lunch and very easy on the budget, that is perhaps the easiest kind of pot-luck to pull together. Present one large bowl of assorted salad greens and assorted dishes of accoutrements such as raw and marinated vegetables, olives, nuts, raisins, and croutons. Select two different kinds of vinegar (a balsamic and a white wine, for example) and a good quality extra virgin olive oil; don't forget a bowl of sea salt and a pepper grinder. Ask your friends to contribute with artisan breads, or favorite salad add-ins. Offer sorbet for dessert and pitchers of mint juleps, sparkling water and wine spritzers. Now that's fresh entertaining without even turning up the heat!
2. Smorgasbord Party: Scandinavians have the cold buffet table down pat. Arrange platters of sliced tomatoes and seedless cucumbers and offer baskets of Swedish crisp breads, pumpernickell and rye artisan bread. then ask your friends to bring platters of deli ingredients--hams, thinly sliced roast beef--or Norwegian cheese--Jarlsberg comes to mind--interesting mustards or flavored aioli. Include pickled beets, gherkins--keeping in the no-cook zone, find them bottled in a store near you--and add a simple potato salad. Offer berries with whipped cream and Scandinavian cookies purchased in a specialty shop for dessert. Easy does it! No fuss, no muss!
3. Nostalgic 50's Party: Re-visit the era when entertaining was casual in America and bring back the classics. Hamburgers and hot dogs with all the trimmings; old- fashioned cole slaw and potato chips; consider add-ons such as guacamole and baked beans from a can--I won't tell if you don't tell. Fill a tub with ice, beer, and colas; serve pink lemonade. Ask friends to contribute their family's favorite desserts--brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cheesecakes. What could be easier than that?
Copyright. Sandra A. Gutierrez. 2008. All Rights Reserved