Entertaining Confidential: How to Throw a Summer Fete for Every Occasion

Warm summertime nights are a perk of the season and prime for entertaining. Whether you’re craving a backyard barbeque or an intimate dinner party, we’re showing you the ropes so you can pull it off like an entertaining veteran.
  1. A Couples Dinner Party

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    The VIP List: 
    Your couple BFFs and that couple you and your mate have been wanting to break bread with.

    The Potential Party Poopers: 
    That “keeping up with the Joneses” couple who always try to trump everyone else’s accomplishments, comments or facts. You know exactly who they are…

    The Signature Drink:
    Rosé! It’s the perfect accompaniment to the summer and goes with just about everything. If it’s still roasting hot outside when your guests arrive, keep an ice bucket filled with small cubes to keep the wine chilled. Scared of the stigma associated with, gasp, ice in wine? Trust us, it’s a common trend across Europe—give it a try!

    The Bites:
    Try cedar-plank salmon on the grill. Simply place fillets on the plank, top with herbs and lemon for an easy-to-make meal that satisfies. Keep the sides healthy with a simple green salad and pan-roasted baby potatoes (you can do this on the grill too!).

    The Party Trick: 
    Stay around the table and pull out a cheeky game, like Taboo, to start up conversations. 

    The Playlist:
    “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” by The Bill Evans Trio
  2. A Backyard BBQ

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    The VIP List:
    Take advantage of the casual vibe to catch up with your long-lost, new-parent friends. You can even invite them with baby in tow for a casual meet-and-greet with your favorite couple’s newest addition.

    The Potential Party Poopers: 
    The babies. Those little creatures are loose cannons who have the potential to cry, throw a tantrum or require a changing at just about any hour. Just hope that your friends put their loves down for a nap before they head over for burgers. 

    The Signature Drink:
    Your favorite IPA or local brew. Fill a party tub or wheel barrel with ice to keep the beverages chilled to perfection. Mix in some rosé, sparkling waters and juice boxes for those who prefer wine or nonalcoholic drinks (read: the kids!). 

    The Bites:
    Grill up some barbeque chicken, burgers and hot dogs. Set out a variety of condiments and side dishes so your guests can create their own BBQ foodie adventure. 

    The Party Trick: 
    If you have the space, set up a game of horseshoes for the adults and pin the tail on the donkey for the young ones. 

    The Playlist:
    “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
  3. An After-Work Happy Hour

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    The VIP List:
    Extend an invite to the coworkers you want to get to know better, or those cool neighbors down the street. Since cocktail parties are short lived, it’s the ideal situation for breaking the ice with people you hardly know.  

    The Potential Party Poopers:
    You’re looking for a night off from anything stressful, so skip the invite to the boss, but do invite the neighbors who always seem a little too cranky to say hello. They may not be the most fun (yet!), but you never know, an invite over may just brighten their mood and turn them neighborly. 

    The Signature Drink:
    Try a skinny margarita on the rocks with that new tequila you picked up on your last trip to Mexico. Fresh lime, agave syrup and a salted rim are all it takes for a beverage that’s super-refreshing when it’s scorching outside.  

    The Bites:
    Keep it small with finger foods. A happy hour is just that, an hour (or two), and less food means a smaller chance of party hanger-on-ers overstaying their welcome. 

    The Party Trick:
    Beer pong, adult style: Skip the beer and stick to water-filled red cups to avoid any wardrobe disasters. You’re adults now, so you probably won’t be too thrilled if your latest summer dress gets splashed with stale pale ale.  

    The Playlist:
    “Electric Feel” by MGMT

  4. An Adult Mixer

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    The VIP List:
    Shake up the norm by inviting your girlfriends and the boys your other half plays hoops with, and their plus ones. Branch out even further and have that bohemian couple you met on your last vacation or the college roomie you haven’t seen in ages.

    The Potential Party Poopers:
    Shake up the norm by inviting your girlfriends and the boys your other half plays hoops with, and their plus ones. Branch out even further and have that bohemian couple you met on your last vacation or the college roomie you haven’t seen in ages.

    The Signature Drink:
    Try a refreshingly tart mojito that will stave off the beating sun while keeping an exotic vibe at the fete. Garnish with a striped straw and a bright drink umbrella for added punch. 

    The Bites:
    Keep the exotic vibe by grilling up kebobs served with a fresh mango salsa or chimichurri sauce. Bite-size foods are best as most people will be mingling and eating. 

    The Party Trick:
    Surprise guests by setting up a gourmet ice-cream-sandwich bar. Have the ingredients for unexpected cookie and ice cream combos (think: raspberry sorbet with ginger snaps or mint-chip ice cream paired with Mallomars) but let your guests DIY their own sweet sando.

    The Playlist:
    “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

  5. A Chilled-Out Clambake

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    The VIP List:
    Make it a family affair to catch up with the 'rents, siblings and cousins over succulent shelled seafood.

    The Potential Party Poopers:
    Anyone with seafood allergies—a mid-party trip to the emergency room is a definite downer, not to mention dangerous! Keep some easy alternatives for those who have an aversion to shelled delicacies. 

    The Signature Drink:
    Stick to dry, crisp white wines that will complement each of the sea treats equally. Try a light sauvignon blanc or even a dry brut champagne. 

    The Bites:
    Keep it classic with clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster and sausage, as a seafood alternative, and corn on the cob and potatoes for sides. Since you can't dig a hole and make a fire pit in your yard, prepare the food on the stovetop in your kitchen. Serve everything together on a large tray in the backyard for a seaworthy fest.

    The Party Trick:
    Keep it East Coast-y and set up a game of petanque or croquet on your lawn. It’ll set the mood for a fun and relaxing summer day. 

    The Playlist:
    “California Sunrise” by Dirty Gold