Our Favorite Tastemakers’ Advice for Hosting Summer Gatherings
Ahead of the fourth of July, we’ve called in a range of experts – interior designers, florists, event planners, party designers, chefs and more to answer your most pressing summer entertaining questions. Whether you plan on hosting a backyard barbecue, seated dinner, cocktail hour or weekend by the pool, these tips will elevate your event into the perfect soiree.
Consider it our love letter to summer – from our outdoor oasis to yours. Cheers!
The Cocktail: Looking for the perfect cocktail to spice up summer evenings? Nicole White of Nicole White Designs recommends a strawberry margarita with jalapeno infused tequila garnished with fresh mint leaves. The perfect combination of sweet and sour.
Cocktail: Strawberry Margarita with Jalapeno Infused Tequila
For the jalapeno infused tequila:
750ml blanco tequila
5-6 jalapenos, whole
For the strawberry margarita:
Strawberries, tops off and quartered
1/2 oz simple syrup (use more or less to taste)
Lime, juiced, plus a slice for garnish
1/2 oz jalapeno infused tequila
1/2 oz triple sec
Grand Marnier, if desired
Salt and sugar, for garnish
Mint leaves, for garnish
The Menu: The key to a delicious meal is to not over think it. Source what’s in season and keep it simple. Frances Schultz, well-known writer, television personality, traveler, hostess, and more, recommends starting with an heirloom tomato salad, grilled zucchini, tortilla chips with guacamole and pico de gallo. For the main: extra crispy fried chicken, coleslaw, and corn muffins. And of course, chocolate brownies for dessert. “Simple always works.”
Sarah Copeland, award-winning writer, cookbook author and tastemaker adds, “Don’t forget herbs! Herbs are the hero of any dish. I would add chopped parsley or dill, mint, thyme to a fresh salad. That will really make it come to life.”
The Tablescape: “If you are doing a buffet, the secret is to make the table look really full to create a visual sense of abundance. And not necessarily with more food. Add wine bottles, condiments, greenery, baskets. That all helps contribute to the visual sense of fullness,” says Frances Schultz.
Steele Marcoux, editor in chief of Veranda Magazine adds, “Consider the table lines too! Table linen designs these days are piling on the color and the pattern. That helps to make your tablescape visually attractive too.”
The Florals: “Everyone loves a summer favorite like dahlias, but take a closer look at your farmers market, bodega or grocery store for more unique blooms and textures. Seasonal zinnias, celosia, and yarrow aren’t as dramatic as a dinner plate dahlia, but they come in rich colors, unique shapes, and look great on any table,” says floral arrangement event designer Kacey Ziegler of B Floral.
Hot tip for those planning to entertain in the heat: “Go tropical! Waxy flowers like anthurium, bird of paradise, and ginger were born to stand up to the summer sun and won’t wilt on you even if your guests stay late!”
The Playlist: If you are like us, the playlist usually gets saved for the last minute. Luckily, Spotify has a range of pre-made summer playlists that will make your guests smile and add the perfect background soundtrack. We love “Beach Vibes,” “Country Cookout” and “US Summer Hits of the 90s.” If you are looking to get the party up and grooving, “Party Cove” is a go-to.
To conclude, we will leave you with advice from New York City restaurateur and hostess extraordinaire, Donna Lennard: “I always say, you have to have an atmosphere and incredible ingredients. In my restaurant and at home, I have the same philosophy: put the most beautiful things that you have forward and hope the people coming to you really enjoy them. The table you serve food on, the linens you use, the glassware; it all contributes to the mood. The simpler it is, the more beautiful it is.”