This article from Pure Wow was reprinted with permission and originally appeared as Fete Refresh: 7 New Ways to Throw a Summer Party.
If you’re anything like us (and we think you are), you love a good backyard barbecue. It just wouldn’t be a weekend summer party without grilled meat (and meat alternatives), oodles of potato salad, sliced watermelon and sending your sister’s new boyfriend on another ice run.
That’s why it pains us to admit this: We’re growing a little tired of the hot-dog-and-plastic-wine-cup party circuit. We’re entering the dog days now, people. And with that comes summer-party fatigue.
That’s why we’ve put together a few tips for a midsummer refresh: In other words, easy new ways to entertain that don’t involve a kiddie pool. But enough small talk. Scroll through to see the swaps we’re betting will make your summer shindig an affair to remember.
THE OLD WAY: CHIPS AND SALSA
THE NEW WAY: Crostini and Crab Dip
Yes, we agree, the old crowd-pleasing standby is delicious (and has saved us in a party pinch many a time). But this insanely cheesy and satisfying crab and artichoke dip really ups the ante and is a total breeze to make. Not a seafood fan? Try some of these elevated party nibbles instead…
THE OLD WAY: REMOVE YOUR SHOES
THE NEW WAY: Slip into Slippers
We get it: A shoe-free house means no dirt, grass clippings or other nasties get on your cream-colored carpets. But wait a sec: Have you seen your neighbor’s toes lately? Barefoot outside is one thing, but inside it can be just terribly unsightly.Set up a basket of lightweight slippers in your foyer (you can buy some inexpensive ones here) and encourage guests to help themselves to a pair. Your rugs will stay clean, and no one will be subjected to Cousin Frank’s cracked heels.
THE OLD WAY: PREMIXED COCKTAILS
THE NEW WAY: Chilled Wine, Straight Up
Now that everyone is noshing happily on fancy apps, what hostess wants to spend the rest of the evening playing bartender? Forgo the too-fancy cocktails and serve chilled wine instead. Less time spent with the blender means more time to catch up with your friends. But if you’re insistent, check out this Ultimate Summer Cocktail Guide!
THE OLD WAY: STORE-BOUGHT BOUQUET
THE NEW WAY: Imperfectly Perfect Backyard Blooms
Step away from the grocery-store arrangements (too matchy-matchy) and instead go outside (or send the kids) to gather up a hodgepodge of wildflowers, grasses and herbs from the garden. You’ll be surprised how pretty “undone” arrangements can look. Nothing in the backyard? Study up on these surefire tips on How to Arrange Grocery Store Flowers.
THE OLD WAY: THE STANDARD BUFFET LINE
THE NEW WAY: Gourmet Goodies Everywhere
Who wants to elbow their way to the good stuff along with everyone else? Make use of your space and spread out the snacks: Designate one side table for savory appetizers, another for the cheese spread, another for salads. Fling open the doors and use your patio too. This gets people moving around—and prevents awkward buffet-line small talk.
THE OLD WAY: ASSIGNED SEATING
THE NEW WAY: Scattered Floor Pillows
You’ve already covered every flat surface with casseroles and crudités. Skip the dining-room affair (save place settings for fall and winter) and embrace the boho vibe. Invite guests to grab a pillow and take a seat on the floor with their plate and drink. When they feel more laid-back, your party will follow suit.
THE OLD WAY: AN ELABORATE DESSERT
THE NEW WAY: A Take-Home Treat
Ditch the complicated cakes and parfaits in favor of a guaranteed delight: the world’s easiest ice-cream sandwiches. Made with store-bought pints and cookies, all you need is a big knife and a moment to assemble (see the how-to here). For guests who didn’t save room for sweets, wrap this no-fuss treat in a piece of waxed paper, then drop it into a plastic baggie to go. They’ll thank you later.
More summer party inspiration from Pure Wow…