So you’ve decided to buy a markiser and want to play host and entertain some friends and need tips on summer dinner party etiquette? Great! Congratulations on heading toward proper adulthood.
Oh wait. Maybe you’ve only just been invited to a summer dinner party and you’re confused on how to conduct yourself…?
Either way. We have you covered.
One of the simple pleasures about summertime is dining al fresco. Crisp air, good conversation, free-flowing wine, and delicious, yet easy recipes; what could be better?
Regardless of whether you’re hosting or you’ve shown up simply for the food, there is a summer dinner party etiquette which is applicable to parties in the Hamptons and Hollywood.
Casual luxury is the phrase we use at Hamptons to Hollywood to sum up pretty much everything – and your dinner party should be no different. You’re going to want to make a large meal for guests that’s really easy on you to prepare, but that has an undertone of sophistication. For example:
- Hors D’oeuvres – crudités and crackers on a large server platter is completely acceptable. However, you just need to make your dipping accoutrements elevated. Pâté, spinach & artichoke dip (topped with truffle oil), and hummus (with a dollop of caviar) are all perfectly reasonable things to serve. Use your imagination and think of fine ingredients you don’t use everyday. Or when in a pinch, a homemade summertime charcuterie plate works every time.
- Entree – eating family style is wonderful in the summertime. It adds an intimacy you can’t discount. One-pot dishes and a salad are great for this. Try our Rockfish Bruschetta recipe – only instead of in a pan, load as many filets as you have guests into a large skillet and bake until golden brown.
- Table – again, don’t stress! Remember casual luxury. You don’t even need a tablecloth in the summertime, especially if you’re eating outdoors. Opt for placemats with cloth napkins that match. Make sure you have two forks – one for salad and one for your entree, if you’re feeling fancy – one knife (set to the right of your plates, of course), one water glass at the top right of your plate, and place your wine glass adjacent to that.
- Wine – is a always a good idea. For the guest, it’s more about what you’re bringing to the table – in this case quite literally. A bottle of local-ish wine is a perfect gesture. Red never fails, no matter what type of dish your host may be serving.
- Flowers – win people over big-time. Even if your guest already has some sort of a flower arrangement on the table, they can easily use the bouquet to spruce up their house over the next few days.
- Homemade Goods – if you fancy yourself a chef or baker, a little tray of cookies are NEVER a bad idea. Don’t go crazy, a simple batch of chocolate chip are fine. Even if your host doesn’t serve them for dessert, it’s a generous token of your gratitude, and one they will savor in the coming days. But a word to the wise: if it’s not homemade, don’t bother. Bring two bottles of wine over one bottle a tray of fig newtons.
And that’s that! Enjoy all your summer dinner parties this season!