Entertaining at home is always a stressful situation. Between cleaning and planning menus and making sure you have enough of everything you need, without going overboard. You want to impress your guests, without looking like you’re trying too hard. How do you balance it all? Luckily, there are great and easy-to-find products that help you put your best hostess foot forward.
Before you begin your event, make sure you have the right serving-ware and glasses…aka ones that don’t have to be washed at the end of the night. Lots of paper plates can be thrown away but we were happy to find Bambu, a brand that makes compostable products made from (you guessed it) bamboo! Their plates are much sturdier than the standard paper plates, and when the night is over, you can compost them and give a little back to Mother Earth.
Then you can move onto the fun parts. For starters, no party is perfect without a few drinks! There are plenty to choose from, but summertime means light wines. That’s a no brainer. From bubbly to white wine to the ever-favorite rosé, wine is the perfect drink to have on-hand for any party.
Our go to choices are:
- Bubbly: Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore: There is no bubbly more classic than this one. Crisp, clean, and perfect for a toast to summer.
- White Wine: Santa Magherita Pinot Grigio: The first Pinot Grigio to be imported to the US, this is a classic drink all year long, but especially great for this season.
- White Wine: OneHope Pink Glitter Edition California Chardonnay: No other bottle of wine will look as pretty and festive on your bar cart!
- Rosé: Chloe Wines: This varietal is no oversweet, and almost clear in color. It’s perfectly light and tasty.
If you want to make a cocktail with your delicious vino (gasp! but we will allow it), our favorites are the Beauty Elixer from Cosmopolitan and Everything’s Coming Up Rosé from Food & Wine. They’re visually pretty, and also pretty easy to make!
Another sweet treat in cocktail form is the Chocolate Martini. It looks quite fancy, plus is a nice chilled taste of chocolate at the end of the evening. The Cocoa Exchange makes a rich mix that makes it easy to create your martini. All you have to do is combine 2 parts of the mix with 1 part vodka and 1 part milk. Voila! Awesome cocktail ahead.
When it comes to food, people often times go straight for a veggie or cheese platter from their local grocery story. It looks well-laid out and colorful, plus is an upgrade from the usual bag of chips and salsa. However, with a few simple upgrades that you don’t even have to cook, you can take your patio apps or BBQ sides up a serious notch this summer.
For starters, go Mediterranean with olives, stone ground mustard and dip-able treats. Olives are a perfect accompaniment to many cheeses and crackers, which you were probably going to have on your table anyway. Gaea is a Greece-based, much-awarded, and ethically produced company that focuses on olive-based products. From spreads to oils to pop-able olives, you know you’ll be getting the best quality and taste available. We love their Sun-Dried Tomato Spread baked onto a crunchy bread with cheese, but even putting a few varieties of olives out on the table provides a great snack as guests arrive.
For dips, toss out the queso for now and focus on savory mustards. These can serve multiple purposes if you add them onto a barbecue brisket or simple sandwich, but they can taste great on their own. My newest favorite is the Stone Ground Mustard from the Cocoa Exchange. I have been dipping everything from pretzels to carrots to chicken fingers in this baby because it’s the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Your main course it up to you, as it’s harder to get away with not cooking when it comes to the entree. If you have a grill, you should of course use it while you can! You can stick to the usual burgers or steak, but we also recommend taking it up a notch by grilling more unique items like watermelon, peaches and pineapple. They will be a wonderful compliment to heartier meats, and give your vegetarian friends something special to bite into.
When it comes to dessert, continue to keep it simple and bite-sized. After loving the Stone Ground Mustard, I went back to The Cocoa Exchange to pick out unique dessert bites. Their Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Dusted Almonds make a not-too-sweet dessert that have also doubled as the perfect afternoon snack. If you want to go the more classic route, truffles are never a bad idea, and their Tea Truffle Collection will impress even your foodie-est guests with the cool flavor combinations. Or, you can just eat the Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bites by the handful like I do.
If your guests are more into the fruit profile than chocolate, we have recently fallen in love with Nonni’s THINaddictives cookies. They truly are addictive, come in a variety of fruit flavors, and are made to minimize post-dessert guilt. The perfect treat for summer-body season!
These are some of our favorite foods and drinks right now, picked after tirelessly testing products just for you (happy to make the sacrifice!) However, when it comes to party-planning, especially in your own home, the key is to find things YOU love. It makes your event feel more authentic, and your guests can tell when you are passionate about something. So, try these out, pick your favorites, and then go hunting for your own signature dish! You might just find a new favorite food this summer.