16 ideas for a no-fuss summer party

For your next backyard bash, impress your guests with these deceptively easy ideas for food, drink, and festiveness

The rub that goes with everything

Photo by Jeffery Cross

The rub that goes with everything

Try zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, with lamb, beef, chicken, steak­—even cheese and veggies. Or do a combo, like the meatball, halloumi, and squash skewer here.

Recipes: 

Fresh Zaatar Rub

Grilled Meatball, Halloumi, and Baby Squash Skewers

 

Fruit gets fancy

Photo by Rachel Weill

Fruit gets fancy

There’s something about mango and papaya that makes us feel like we’re on vacation. This platter can be any mix of those plus pineapple and fresh coconut, served with lime wedges and a dipping salt of three parts kosher salt and one part cayenne.

Recipe: Fancy Fruit Platter

 

 

A fresh, easier take on deviled eggs

Photo by Jeffery Cross

A fresh, easier take on deviled eggs

Bring the craze for izakaya, or Japanese small plates, into your backyard. Set out hard-cooked, bite-size quail eggs; then next to the eggs, arrange two bowls, one with furikake (Japanese seaweed seasoning mix), the other with a dipping sauce of mayonnaise seasoned with wasabi paste, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and salt. Ingredients are available at Chinese and Japanese markets.

The 2-in-1 blanket

Photo by Jeffery Cross

The 2-in-1 blanket

Washable, eco-friendly wool works as a picnic blanket or thrown over your shoulders for warmth. From $118; pendleton-usa.com

Frozen treats, no ice cream maker required

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Frozen treats, no ice cream maker required

Nothing says summer more than a ice-cold, sugary treat. Try our adult spin on popsicles (pictured) or this granita's unusual flavor combo to satisfy your craving. The margarita “poptails” require popsicle molds, but the granita, inspired by one at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, just needs a square pan.

Recipes:

Margarita "Poptails" (pictured)

Honeydew Rose Water Granita

Foolproof mood lighting

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Foolproof mood lighting

Solar panels power a small LED light that casts a pretty, geo­metric shadow. Hang them up or set on a table. $30 for 2; allsopgarden.com

Candle holders get an upgrade

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Candle holders get an upgrade

Made from cast iron and windproof glass, these candleholders last for generations. Hammer them into tables or fences. $35 each; shophorne.com

Easy lantern glow

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Easy lantern glow

Bright, lemony paper lanterns give your backyard a romantic feel. Just hit the switch to get them glowing. Ikat lanterns: $17 for 4; worldmarket.com

A super-simple summer “fondue”

Photo by Rachel Weill

A super-simple summer “fondue”

Bagna cauda, an Italian version of fondue, hits all the right notes: It’s delicious, it showcases fresh veggies, and it invites conversation around the bowl, or “hot bath,” flavored with garlic and anchovies. Put it in a heated bowl to keep it warm longer.

Recipe: Bagna Cauda

Wow ’em cocktails

Photo by Rachel Weill

Wow ’em cocktails

None of these take more than 15 minutes to make. Just prep the simple syrups and fruit in advance, employ the booze potluck, and voilà, you’ve got yourself a pretty impressive bar.

Recipes (pictured left to right):

Watermelon Daiquiri

St-Germain Fizzy

Lemon–Thyme Pimm’s Cooler

Italian Raspberry Cocktail

Green Gin Cocktail

The shortcut DIY soda bar

Photo by Jeffery Cross

The shortcut DIY soda bar

Add a splash of these garden-inspired simple syrups to sparkling water for a riff on the Italian soda (or use them in our summer party cocktails).

Recipes: 

Lemon-Thyme Simple Syrup 

Celery Simple Syrup 

Basil Simple Syrup

Raspberry Simple Syrup

Stock your bar on the cheap

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Stock your bar on the cheap

It can cost more than $100 to serve drinks at a party. The answer? A booze potluck. Choose two cocktails you’ll mix at the party, then ask your friends to bring a bottle of liquor instead of the obligatory white wine.

What you need in your party kit

Photo by Jeffery Cross

What you need in your party kit

Party tray: Buy these lacquered trays in multiples to make serving (and cleanup) easy. From $29; westelm.com

Glasses: Durable acrylic glasses in bright candy colors can with­stand any party treatment. From $20/set of 4; surlatable.com

Festive napkins: Marimekko’s colorful patterns elevate even the humble paper napkin. From $5/set of 20; crateandbarrel.com

The bamboo spork: This brings the need for two utensils to one. Plus it’s washable and reusable. $8/set of 4; bambuhome.com

The 5-minute crowd-pleaser snack

Photo by Jeffery Cross

The 5-minute crowd-pleaser snack

To fancy up chips and dip, make the bowl you serve them in pretty, the dip smoky, and the potato chips Western. We crunched through 30 brands to pick our faves.

Recipe: Smoky Clam Dip (pictured)

Our picks for chips: 

  • Kettle Brand Chips Backyard Barbecue. The perfect balance of sweetness, smoke, and a little heat. kettlebrand.com
  • Alaska Chip Company. Their classic chip is crunchy with natural sweetness. akchip.com
  • Tim’s Cascade Style Jalapeño Chips. Thick-cut chips with a bright, zippy flavor. timschips.com
  • Poore Brothers Salt & Vinegar. Crisp, with wonderfully tart flavor. Find them in Arizona, Colorado, and SoCal.

Better than cheese and crackers

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Better than cheese and crackers

Slice a baguette, brush slices with olive oil, and toast on the grill. Then set out a bowl of the toasts with any of the sweet or savory toppings here, and let guests build their own bruschetta.

Recipes for our favorite combos:

Olive and Pistachio Bruschetta (top)

Beets and Preserved Lemon Bruschetta (bottom right)

BLT Bruschetta (bottom left)

 

Even more ways with bruschetta

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Even more ways with bruschetta

Here are three more delicious ways to top off an olive oil-brushed and grill-toasted baguette slice.

Recipes for our favorite combos:

Zucchini and Harissa Bruschetta (top)

Cheese and Chocolate Bruschetta (right)

Strawberry Mascarpone Bruschetta (bottom left)

 

And if you want a party theme...

Photo by Annabelle Breakey

And if you want a party theme...

Create a playful vibe at your next bash with these fun outdoor party themed menus, complete with options for drinks and appetizers.

More: 12 outdoor party themes

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/entertaining/summer-party-ideas-00418000077206/