This post is sponsored by Pier 1 Imports.
I bet many of you are planning a lot of entertaining this summer. We entertain all the time- I absolutely love having friends and family over for a long leisurely dinner to relax and enjoy the gorgeous weather.
I thought I’d put together a few tips for stress free entertaining without breaking the bank. Hopefully this is helpful as you plan your parties this year. If you have any great tips of your own, please be sure to share them below!
For the most part I try to make everything ahead of time and have just one item that might need to be cooked- preferably on the grill. I love pasta salads, green salads, fresh fruit, sandwiches etc… as they can be made ahead. I might have friends over for Grilled Chicken, a light pasta salad, watermelon or burgers that we grill and serve with green salads and fruit plates. I am not stuck in the kitchen or watching timers and instead I get to be outside relaxing with our friends.
The fruit cups above were fresh from the Farmer’s Market blueberries, strawberries and raspberries all layered in pretty acrylic stemless wine glasses from Pier 1 Imports. I actually made them the night before and they were all set the day of the party to just pull out and serve. The wine glasses were perfect because I just rinsed the fruit directly from the market, layered it in the glass, topped with saran wrap and stored in the fridge.
Entertaining isn’t about breaking the bank, it is about spending time with people you care about. I love serving simple classics like hot chocolate and fresh baked cookies or root beer floats or we just did a S’Mores bar that was really fun. So simple, very inexpensive and who doesn’t love S’Mores?
I love this galvanized tray from Pier 1 Imports. It is lightweight and rustic and it has generous handles on the side to easily transport food.
I lined the tray with parchment paper, added three types of chocolate (cookies n cream, milk chocolate and peanut butter cups) plus marshmallows and graham crackers and each person made their own S’More. We have an outdoor firepit so it was easy to roast the marshmallows and the kid’s absolutely loved trying the different varieties of chocolate.
I will do this again and again as it was so fun. Something about S’Mores seems to invite lingering and that is exactly what I was going for- calm, happy, fun time to chat away with people we love. No rush, no stress.
We typically have several children at our house and I try to incorporate entertainment for them into the party prep. The more activities there are for the children to do, the likelier it is the adults will actually have a chance to relax. We always put out sidewalk chalk and added a few bright pillows and kid friendly snacks. These are outdoor pillows from Pier 1 Imports so they are very easy to clean. I also used melamine plates from Pier 1 Imports that can be carried around safely outside. The children can make themselves comfortable as they color away on the pavement with chalk.
I like to create a separate space for the children to eat as well. I think children prefer to sit together and play and there are fewer interruptions to the adult conversation.
This children’s picnic table was in really bad shape and we just gave it a fresh coat of paint and now it looks fantastic. I taped a long piece of craft paper to the table for the children to color. Coloring keeps them occupied and reduces the amount of clean up after the meal. Just rip the entire paper off the table at the end of the night and toss. If you don’t have a table to use for the children, picnic blankets also work perfectly! My girl’s love to have outdoor picnics so lay a few blankets on the grass and they have a fun, special place to eat.
Every time we entertain I am always tempted to buy a bunch of new things. Lately I have been trying to think of simple ways to either recycle things we already have (like the table above) or reuse things we have in different ways.
We had a pool party recently and I wanted to create a separate space for drinks so people wouldn’t be crowded around the grill area all afternoon. I didn’t have an outdoor table that was large enough so my husband actually dragged the desk out from my office and it worked perfectly! I lined the desk with placemats from Pier 1 Imports for a pop of color and to protect the surface from scratches. I used my favorite galvanized tray to hold drinks, added a pitcher of fruit infused water and that was it. So easy! Oh and the stand that the water is resting on is actually a terra cotta planter and tray that was spray painted and glued together. Affordable and it works beautifully.
I love reusing picnic blankets in summer as a casual tablecloth. They are usually bright and colorful, very durable and can be tossed right in the wash after dinner. No need to buy extra linens!
I found these pretty flower picks at Pier 1 Imports and used them to decorate mini cupcakes. I had a few leftover and decided to reuse them as napkin rings. I just tied some yellow cloth napkins from Pier 1 Imports with a little twine and tucked the flower pick in for a little pop of color and fun. Simple and very inexpensive.
And last but not least is my favorite outdoor entertaining tip- lots and lots of fun lighting.
Summer nights are so gorgeous in the backyard with the sun starting to set and the cool breezes. I love to maximize that magical time with lots of fun lighting in the yard.
My favorite purchase recently was a set of clear glimmer strings from Pier 1 Imports. These are delicate and pretty and they are battery operated. I popped the string into a large jar to create an easy DIY centerpiece for our table. This looks gorgeous once the sun starts to set and I know I will reuse these little lights in many ways this summer.
And last but not least, can we talk uninvited guests? Nothing ruins a party like bugs so I love to use Citronella candles on the tables to keep the bugs away and for a little extra glow at night.
This candle I made myself and then just took a bit of twine and clipped some fresh Rosemary to dress it up. The scent is not overpowering and I made a few extra candles to give as hostess gifts this summer.
So those are my tips to hosting a fabulous summer party! I’d love to hear any additional ideas that you have for successful, stress-free entertaining!
Find what speaks to you. See the Outdoor Living collection in stores or at pier1.com/outdoorliving.