Summer is in full swing and BBQ’s are happening on the weekly. We love having our family and friends over for a cook out and just hanging out outside, kids playing in the sprinklers, etc…I love to entertain and having people over. From planning the happy hour and apps, to getting together the dinner, figuring out a dessert and lastly pairing the perfect wine or cocktail to complement the snacks and meal.
But, planning any get together can be stressful and hard, I know I’m always wondering what others are wanting or expecting. Thinking should I try something new or go with a tried and true recipe? Do I just have a bunch of appetizers or should I have a main course? What about drinks, do I have wine, cocktails and what about the non-drinkers? There are so many parts to hosting a BBQ, so today I’m sharing how I plan for a party and some of my tips and tricks to help make it less stressful!
I think one of my favorite things to put together is a cheese tray. It’s so fun to go to the store and pick out different cheeses and fruit and nuts to compliment them. I usually go with three cheeses for mine and you will always find one of them is cheddar…because who doesn’t love a good cheddar cheese. I am not picky when it comes to a white or yellow cheddar, I tend to mix it up, but one of my favorite go-to cheddars is the Kingdom Organic Sharp Cheddar from Costco. It’s perfectly paired with dried mango (I love these, but there have less sugar and are great too). Other great choices for the trey are manchego, gouda and brie. Lately, I have been loving this Champignon Mushroom Brie, also found at Costco.
Tips For The Perfect Cheese Tray
- Here a few tips for the perfect cheese tray. Make sure your cheeses are contrasting in flavors and in texture, this keeps thing interesting and provides an array of experiences.
- Make your tray 30-45 minutes ahead of time. This allows for them to get to room temperature and all of the aromas and flavors to really come alive.
- Make your tray look pretty, using a great platter, butcher block or stone tray is very inviting and draws the eye to it….we eat with our eyes first, #amiright??? Love this, this and this as great options.
- The pairings are just as important as the actual cheese. Adding nuts, dried and fresh fruit, spreads, baguettes slices and/or crackers always compliment and bring out the flavors. These are my favorite to pair with cheddar cheese
Other great snacks and appetizers are cold or roasted shrimp, chicken skewers, vegetable and fruit trays, and any great dips….this can be anything from chips and store bought salsa or dips for something fast and easy, to a homemade seven layer or spinach artichoke dip or anything else in between. My tip for buying anything store bought is to take it out of the package and put it on your own platters and bowls.
Depending on who you’re entertaining will depend on what you make. If it’s super casual it can be as simple as hot dogs, sausages (LOVE these) and hamburgers/turkey burgers. These are usually crowd pleasers for all ages. Our favorite thing is marinated chicken, THIS is one of my favorites.
If budget isn’t a factor or the group is pretty small, steaks are also a great choice.
A fast and easy option for any get together is also anything Mexican, enchiladas, taco/burrito bar and salad.
I’m all about cookies and ice cream…and together nothing screams summer more. I love having fresh baked cookies and then having a few ice cream flavors and bowls of different topping for people to make their own ice cream cookie sandwiches. The kids LOVE this activity and you would be surprised at how much the adults love doing this … I think they even love doing it as much, if not more than the kids!
But of course, to keep things simple you can buy them pre made too!
COCKTAILS + MOCKTAILS
We are mostly red wine drinkers over here. But, whenever I put together a happy hour or appetizers for guests I typically choose a white or rose wine. They’re great for hot summer days because they are chilled and tend to be more refreshing. These are also softer and won’t over power the these lighter flavors. They’re also great for sipping on and don’t often require food to enhance their flavors.
A few of our favorites are from Brickhouse, Domaine Serene, WillaKenzie and Domaine Drouhin. If you love clean and crisp whites then look for wines from Oregon and even Santa Barbara. The use of steel to age keeps them much crisper, and less thick and buttery!
Besides having the main items listed above, I also place snacking type foods out, like on the coffee table, or on any side table. I feel like no matter how much real food you have out, people love having small snacks to pick at throughout the party. My go-to snacks are mixed nuts, Monster Mix, and Popcorn. You can actually grab a lot of these option from Dollar General to keep cost down.
Check out my 7 Summer Entertaining Tips for hosting to help you have a fun and smooth get together.
Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope your Summer has been off to a great start already!