This 5 Tips for a Spectacular Summer Party article is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and EDWARDS®, all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #EdwardsPies http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
I love to entertain. Love, love, love it. Friends joke that our house is like summer camp because we have a so much stuff to do in the backyard. Since I homeschool with five kids, it definitely is a little bit Field Day 1986, but I just like to have fun. And thankfully our friends agree. I'm going to let you in on a secret though. One of the reasons I love entertaining so much is that it allows me to be in control. Having a hoard of young children makes everything more complicated.
Odds are, if I try to go out for any extended period of time, we will run into one or more nap times, snack times, bed times, or melt down times. And I don't let this stop us from going out, but sometimes I want to be able to relax a bit. It probably sounds contradictory - how is entertaining for a crowd relaxing? Well, if you do it right, it definitely can be. And there's nothing like being able to put the baby down for nap in his own bed while you enjoy a tantrum-free treat with friends.
So, today I'm going to let you in on five of my entertaining secrets for how to have a great summer party that both you and your guests will be able to enjoy!
1. Keep Things Simple
Even though I'm a food blogger and lover of all things extraordinarily delicious, when we have a large party I keep the menu very simple. Mind you, this does not mean the food isn't great - it is! But what it's not is complicated. My favorite big party meal trick is to choose one protein and set up a food bar so everyone can personalize their food.
For the 4th of July we did a hot dog bar, and in the past we've done burger bars, taco bars, fajita buffets, nacho bars, and loaded fry parties! This way, at most you're cooking one thing and everything else can be done ahead and just set out when it's time to eat. In the summer we usually throw something on the grill and inevitably one of the menfolk offer to take over. Say no more, gentlemen, it's all yours!
2. Have Something to Do
I'm not saying plan a series scheduled of games like at a baby shower, but have activities that your guests can do if they choose. It's always awkward to go to a party and wander about a little aimlessly at first. Especially if you don't know the other guests well. By having a few gathering points, your party will keep itself lively.
In the summer we always have water activities. At our home, it means the pool is open and we usually set up a slip and slide or sprinkler. This year we also spray painted a small soccer field in the back yard, and in previous years we painted a target on the ground and provided balls and bean bags to throw. We put basketballs out by the hoop and encourage people to get on the trampoline together. For rainy days and indoor parties, I've been known to print up black and white coloring pages of our guests (Facebook is a great resource for finding fun pictures!) and put them out with boxes of crayons.
It's easy to make friends when you're having fun, and it's easy to have fun when you're not awkwardly searching for a conversation topic with folks you don't really know.
3. Ask for Help
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Don't be afraid to ask your guests for a hand. Whether that means bringing a side or washing dishes, I can promise, they won't mind. They are your friends after all, right?
4. Take the Easy Way
If there's something you're not great at, or don't thoroughly enjoy doing - just don't do it. For me, it's dessert. I don't mind fixing something small for my family, but dessert for a crowd isn't my thing. This past party we got chocolate and key lime pies from the freezer section of Walmart. In the past we've done cupcakes, or pre-made brownies. Whatever it is, I'm not making it. And I'm not feeling guilty about it either!
5. Don't Invite the Wrong People
You know those folks that make you worry that they're gonna see the dust bunnies under your couch. Or who will say something snide about how difficult it must be to keep a bathroom with so many boys clean. (It's SO HARD). The ones that just might open the hall closet and judge you for your towering boxes and unfolded towels? Those folks? DON'T INVITE THEM.
The people who make you uneasy, or uncomfortably, or feel ashamed? Do not belong in your home. Not out of duty or kindness or anything else. If you need to see them, or even want to - do it at a restaurant or meet for a picnic, where the playing field is level and you won't be walking on eggshells in your own home.
Nope, no. No. Instead, put on your favorite swim suit, grab a slice of pie and join me under the sprinkler!
For this party I followed my own Rule #4 and picked up an EDWARDS® Key Lime Pie (hey, it summer in Florida!) as well as a HERSHEY’S® Chocolate Crème Pie (because, chocolate!) from the freezer section of my local Walmart. They were as delicious as they were easy. And since all I had to do was thaw them in the fridge for a few hours and take them out of the box, you can be sure they were very very delicious. This is saying an awful lot because as a Florida girl I am extremely picky about my key lime pies. I will absolutely be using these for my party desserts again.
You can join my in my stealthy desserting ways, and use this coupon while you're at it: Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) EDWARDS® Whole Pie by taking advantage of the Walmart EDWARDS Ibotta digital rebate (while supplies last)!
So tell me, what are your summer party secrets?