Happy Summer everyone! We’re Jamin and Ashley Mills from The Handmade Home, and we’re thrilled to be here at Homes.com to talk about all things summer gatherings. Whether you’re still hunkering down, socializing with a few select families, or just want to save this for later, we hope that this little take on all things summer soirées, gets you excited for all things summertime.
Dining alfresco is one of our very favorite things to do, and hosting is a given since we’re ‘the friends with the pool’. Our home is basically a swinging door all summer, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The key is keeping it low maintenance while doing what we love and having fun. So we love creating a warm, welcoming area for friends and loved ones to gather. Here are a few of our best tips for an easy summer soirée.
Get Creative With Your Tablescapes
Just because you’re outdoors, doesn’t mean you have to use paper plates. We like environmentally friendlier options, like melamine plates. They won’t break and they’re perfect to use by the pool. But I also like layering pretty place settings, because, why not? Selections don’t have to be expensive, so there’s no stress in using them with dinner guests. If paper makes it easier, by all means, we’ve had those nights, too. But I’ve collected lots of pieces over time from sources that vary, and guests seem to enjoy that option. From Amazon to Target, and all those stores in between, it’s easy to grab up pieces as you go for simple, layering fun.
We say cheat a little and mix in what you have organically for the best set up.
Flowers Don’t Have to be Pricey
I get it, we’re outside. Why is she saying that, you may ask? I love bringing color to our table in fun ways, and flowers are an easy, inexpensive option for doing that. I’ve had many a person ask me where I get my flowers. My biggest two sources and affordable tips? Grow an easy cutting garden each spring with zinnias + wildflowers. During the sparser months, mix them in with grocery store finds and you’re winning at life.
Such a great option without breaking the bank.
Keep Food Simple
Prep ahead and you won’t regret it. There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck in the kitchen during a fun gathering, and nothing more awkward for your guests than when you disappear during the fun. Avoid those mutterings of “Uh, can I help you?” and be sure that you can chill and enjoy your gathering, by doing a few simple things before hand.
- Prep ahead: This may seem like a no brainer, but some people get overwhelmed, and forget. Do everything you can ahead of time, so that things are ready to go.
- Keep items like serving ware in easy-to-access areas: Solutions like a tray for plates, or silverware can be kept in jars, make for a quick grab.
- Keep it simple: Limit the ingredients. Check out what your local store offers, that they’re already serving. A basic potato salad can be a great base, spiced up to your own liking. Or the deli may carry the perfect tray of prepped fruit for kiddos. Look for options that are party planning friendly, to save you time.
- Drinks. If you wanna get theme-y with it, go with a basic drink everyone can access on their own. and keep coolers nearby for other options. From mocktails for the kids to drinks for the adults… you can’t lose with easy access that’s already out, poolside.
Have a Kids’ Table
No really. It may be a cliché, but it’s smart. Have it all set up for them, and they’re guaranteed to enjoy themselves. Plus, the adults get some much needed conversation time of their own.
Entertainment Made Easy
Have an easy stash ready to go with ideas for when the kids proclaim “We’re bored”. We love to set aside our activities before guests arrive. Even though we have a pool in the back, the kids still seem to want to do something else after they’re waterlogged. Classic lawn games like corn hole never get old, and if you don’t have a pool, the old slip-n-slide is never a bad idea.
We also love simple elements like glow bracelets or lazer tag guns that can make for some pretty epic hide and seek games in the dark. Or how about firefly bug catchers for an easy form of catch and release? Less is more, and old school is the best.
Celebrate summer the easy way, and it’s guaranteed to keep them occupied while the adults relax.
Prepping ahead of time is the best way to guarantee less work for you. Enjoy your guests, do what’s easy for you, and let your fun ideas shine so you can be present in the moment.
It’s only here for a little while, after all. Happy Summer!