Are you planning a summer get-together? From menu to look to general comfort, Vibrant Table’s professional event staff has some ideas to make summer hosting a breeze.
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Reduce the stress of entertaining by prepping ahead. We recommend plenty of cold sides with hot entrees that come straight off the grill. Have everything ready to go in the fridge, with little or no assembly required. Want to handle some things but not all? Your local caterer or deli will gladly help. Order times vary, so call ahead to see when you should place your order.
Premixing signature cocktails makes serving much easier. For a wide range of guests, consider a fruity beverage that can be made alcoholic or non-alcoholic, such as a strawberry lemonade. Serve the lemonade in a bubbler and let them add the liquor at their discretion. Sangria is always a popular libation, and there are tons of delicious sangria recipes to choose from (104 on the Food Network alone!). A red wine lover? Try chilling a light red for a refreshing summer option.
Pretty buffets by serving dishes at varying heights. Boxes covered in a linen work great. Think outside the bowl or platter for a fun twist. Consider fruit salad skewers or individual desserts in shot glasses or mason jars (reuse mason jars in fall canning). Stylish with a social conscious? China is the most sustainable option, but for larger groups we recommend banana leaf plates. Creative Director Kurt Beadell adores MyDrap, attractive cotton-linen napkins that come on a roll. They can be washed up to six times and offer a vast array of color options. Completely biodegradable, throw them into the compost bin when done!
THE GATHERING AREAS
Guests are drawn to food, music, and seating areas. To keep guests out of the kitchen, provide them with alternative gathering spots by setting up food and beverage stations in a more convenient location. Consider setting up the beverage station on the porch, with seating nearby. Create an area for outdoor games, such as croquet, badminton, or horse shoes.
Choose a color scheme with 2 colors and work it throughout. An attractive garden needs few extra touches, but you might consider signs to direct your guests or labels for food items. Have a few blank labels on hand for items your guests bring. DIY flag strands or pom-pom balls can be added to brighten up gathering spots or food stations.
Stumbles to the restroom are no fun! If you plan to go after dark, light all food stations, gathering spots, and important pathways. Popular solutions include hurricane candles, string lights, torches, or solar lamps.
Take advantage of naturally shaded areas. If your party isn’t at home, survey the event locale during the same hours as your event so you know where the sun hits. Lack natural shade? Consider a shade sail with a pretty cloth, muslin or canvas. Ikea has ready-made shade sails for $25, but we found this DIY tutorial on Apartment Therapy. Mint extract and water in spray bottles can be cooling misters. Kids love water guns or balloon fight, but prepare to be target practice!
Bugs are a fact of life with outdoor hosting, but there are some tricks to deterring them. If possible, connect a fan so that a breeze runs over the food display. Use attractive glass containers with lids (i.e. apothecary jars, cake stands, etc.). Lemon candles can supplement citronella, and there’s always the standby bug zapper. If meat-loving yellow jackets are a problem in your area, the best approach is to bait them away from the festivities with meat or seafood scraps (but not too far to be ineffective), taking care to place canisters out of reach of pets and children.
PORTLAND PARKS, PERMITS & RESOURCES
Based in Portland? Here are some handy links and resources:
- Holding Your Event in a Public Portland Park – Leaflet outlining general things to know when holding an event in a public park. Offers broader information than specific manuals listed below.
- Reserving a Park for Your Picnic -This brochure is for you if you want to reserve a Portland park for your event. Includes locations, rates, and how-to instructions. Download application.
- Wedding Brochure – Planning a summer wedding in the Rose Garden, Hoyt Arboretum or other park? This is the brochure for you. Portland Parks reserve quickly for weddings, so book early!
- Special Event/Use Permit – Instruction manual for large public events.
- Block Parties – Webpage devoted to hosting a block party. You’ll find tips, guidelines, and application links.
- Additional Event Permits -List of permits that may be required for your event, including links for noise permits, fire marshal permits, or parades.
Do you have any summer hosting tips to share? Add them in the comments below!
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Portland-based Evrim Icoz generously donated the images of the punch and candles for this blog post. As always, we extend our gratitude!