Raise your hand if you’re ready for summer!
For me, summertime is a time to relax. I love getting together with friends at local parks, letting the kids run loose while I enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. But, having friends over at my own house is completely different.
Between cooking, cleaning and general party management, having company over can sometimes be stressful. The last thing you want to do is to spend extra time in the kitchen and miss out on all the fun.
Fortunately, you don’t have to! Here are my tried-and-true tips for easy summer entertaining, so you can enjoy the party as much as everyone else!
11 Easy Summer Entertaining Tips
(1) Have a few go-to recipes for entertaining.
I almost always serve raw broccoli salad as one of my dishes. That way I know there will be something healthy that all my kids will eat. Plus, I always have these ingredients on hand.
(2) Have a pot luck.
Friends will gladly bring a dishes to show their appreciation for hosting. Plus having a pot luck style party greatly reduces your workload. When friends ask what they can bring, we suggest appetizers like guacamole and root vegetable chips or easy desserts like peppermint fudge.
(3) Prep as much as possible in advance.
Most salads and baked goods can be prepared in advance. Why not make a double batch of Buffalo Chicken and Bacon Ranch salad on Friday for dinner and serve half at Saturday’s party? Potato salads and pasta salads are better the next day anyway!
If making the entire dish isn’t possible, consider making the components of the dish ahead of time (like preparing homemade dressing and chopping the vegetables) so the day-of you only have to assemble.
(4) Everything tastes better outside (says this outdoor lover).
Take advantage of fresh air and fresh produce and keep your menu simple. Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil (a la caprese salad) take mere minutes to prepare but taste great. Corn on the cob and asparagus don’t require any prep at all.
Add a salad, some burgers and homemade buns and you’ve got a delicious meal.
(5) What about paper plates?
We have a huge stack of plates that I inherited from my grandmother so I almost never use paper. I don’t feel that it’s a big deal to fill up the dishwasher with plates and our everyday cutlery even for parties.
BUT, if thinking about all that cleanup keeps you from having friends over, by all means, do what you have to do and break out the paper plates. No one will think twice about it.
(6) One place I do use disposables is with plastic cups.
We’ll set out a large jars of homemade herbal tea and a magic marker so guests can label their cups. This is a must if you’re dealing with 10 or more people.
Tea is something you can do ahead of time too, and we save money by making herbal tea by the gallon.
(7) Make clean-up even easier by grilling!
And if you’re like Tiffany, maybe you can even get your husband to do all the cooking. Sweet!
(8) Wash up for your guests.
If your guests have brought dishes to share, consider washing them before sending them home. People are usually mingling in the kitchen in my house so I don’t miss out on any of the company if I wash a few dishes at the end of the evening. I got this idea from a friend and people really do appreciate being able to go home with clean dishes.
(9) Aluminum foil is your friend.
I know – it’s really not frugal to be using extra foil, but it’s a real time saver if you line your casserole dishes and loaf pans with foil. Cleanup time is practically zilch. It’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make on an otherwise busy day.
(10) Put your kids to work.
I may sound like a broken record but I’m all about getting kids to help out in the kitchen! Kids will be extra proud to share their own culinary creations (well-supervised of course).
(11) Keep the desserts easy.
One of our favorite desserts is plain old store-bought ice cream. I’m grateful to not have to bake several different baked goods to accommodate our food allergies. A carton of Breyers vanilla is as healthy an indulgence as I can imagine, costs $2.50 on sale, and serves 6-8 people. Everyone is happy with ice cream!
Note from Tiff: This oatmeal crumble is super easy to make with any seasonal fruit, and is AMAZING with ice cream on top!