This post is in partnership with Bed Bath & Beyond. All opinions are my own.
I absolutely love to entertain in my backyard. We’re pretty lucky here in Southern California and have a long season where we can comfortably host a backyard dinner party without worrying about the weather. I jump at every chance to set a table outdoors and invite friends and family over for a laid-back evening of food, wine, and good company. Are you wondering how to host a backyard dinner party? I’m sharing some of my simple tips with you!
Although it just might seem easier to host your group indoors, I encourage you to consider dining alfresco next time. I’ll show you how to host a backyard dinner party that is simple but feels really thought out. Here are the main steps.
Purchase and gather a few outdoor entertaining essentials
Stage your area by setting up the table and place settings ahead of time
Here’s a glimpse at our set up from the other evening. It all really starts with getting a few essentials for entertaining outdoors. Bed Bath & Beyond is a great place to head if you’re looking for outdoor entertaining essentials like tablecloths, cups, plates, and serving pieces. I recently partnered with them to highlight some of their great finds for outdoor entertaining. Here’s a look at some of the items that set the stage for our recent dinner party.
I just fell in love with this palm leaf tablecloth. It’s stain and water resistant which means it’s perfect for dining outdoors. It just screamed “summer” to me and knew it would make a great base for our palm leaf tablescape.
I wanted to mix patterns and textures to keep it interesting but not too matchy-matchy. I grabbed some melamine serving pieces that had a wood and marble look to them. Melamine pieces are great for dining outdoors–you won’t be afraid to break them. I also layered melamine plates on square natural woven jute placemats. These brought a nice earthy feel to our outdoor table. I also love how versatile they are. We use them regularly.
Next, I layered on some place cards, glasses, stemware, and bowls. I highlight recommend setting up everything you can ahead of time. It gives you time to enjoy setting the table without feeling rushed. You can do this hours ahead of when you expect your guests to arrive.
About 30 minutes before guests arrive, I bring out an arrangement for the table. Flowers tend to wilt fast in the heat so I don’t bring them out too early. I always combine fresh blooms from my yard (in this case roses) with a few store-bought blooms (like the hydrangeas and greenery). A small arrangement just makes your table feel pulled together and adds such a thoughtful touch.
About 15 minutes before guests arrive, I bring out the chilled rosé (though, rosé spritzers would have also been a great choice). I recently got this copper plated ice bucket and am mildly obsessed with it! It’s going to match everything on my bar cart and get used so often. I just love discovering unexpected and unique items like this and Bed, Bath & Beyond never disappoints on that front. (more…)
It’s almost May which means it’s almost time to fiesta! I recently got together with Sauza® Tequila to plan this simple Cinco de Mayo backyard celebration for a few of my friends. If you’ve read my past entertaining posts, you know I am a huge fan of keeping things SIMPLE–and that’s just what I did for this party. I’m sharing all the Cinco de Mayo party food, drinks, and easy fiesta-inspired decor ideas with you. You’ll want to pin these simple ideas to your “Fiesta” Pinterest board for later!
The setting was simply my back patio. How easy is that? I pulled my patio table over to a nice shady spot in the yard and it was the perfect spot to set up our fiesta dinner.
I’m a huge fan of incorporating fresh flowers into every tablescape but I never put the pressure on myself to make perfectly arranged centerpieces (simple is key, remember). I picked up some colorful flowers from my local grocery store, trimmed off the stems, and just grouped them together in the center of the table. SO EASY. I mixed in a couple fresh oranges and limes to bring in that citrusy-fiesta vibe.
An easy way to add to a basic table is to layer on textures. I used a burlap runner, wicker chargers, and linen placemats. Not everything matched either–I just used what I had already and ended up with an eclectic, yet festive look. (more…)
Looking for fun and festive New Year’s Eve Cocktails? If so, you’re in luck. Although I do love to serve a nice bottle of champagne (or two) on New Year’s Eve, I also like to mix things up a bit by offering guests a unique cocktail that they might not have tried before. These three recipes are simple to make and fit the bill for the perfect New Year’s Eve Cocktail. Grab these few ingredients ahead of time and you’ll be ready to play bartender!
First up, a Spicy Tomato Martini that will be perfect to serve anyone who is a fan of martinis or Bloody Marys. (I happen to love both!) It’s crisp and flavorful and really an interesting vodka cocktail to serve. Be sure to grab vodka, Clamato Juice, and Tabasco.
Next we have another vodka option, a Cranberry and Rosemary Cocktail (which you can serve as a mini holiday martini version as well). Mini martinis are fun to serve before dinner or as a dessert drink. Pick up cranberry juice, vodka, and fresh rosemary and cranberries for this one.
Third, we have a twist on the traditional mimosa with this Tangerine and Thyme Mimosa (which became my favorite this season). The tangerine lemonade gives it just enough familiar citrus flavor but a lot lighter than typical OJ. And the thyme makes it just so interesting. Grab Tropicana® Tangerine Lemonade, champagne, sprigs of thyme, and tangerine slices for garnish.
What will you be sipping on this New Year’s Eve? Will you make any of these New Year’s Eve Cocktails? If you do, be sure to tag @HostessTori and #TSCocktails on Instagram!
Before entertaining season is in full swing, be sure to gather a few entertaining must-have items to round out your collection. I like to add a couple new pieces every year. Last year I started collecting pieces that are marble and copper and I have loved using them each time I entertain. Here are a few recent marble and copper finds I plan on adding to my arsenal this season.
One of my favorite elements of entertaining is setting the table. I love to get creative and mix new colors and textures together. This year I am all about adding these copper chargers to the mix. I think they will work year-round and can’t wait to try them out.
The matching marble and copper wine chiller would look great sitting on any bar cart. This is something I definitely need (hint, hint Santa!). You could even gift a bottle of wine to really make a complete gift.
Speaking of wine, I am in love with my Winc wine club membership. The wine is super affordable and you can pick three bottles a month (try it out and get a free bottle on me). I like to stock up so that I am ready for any impromptu guests or celebrations.
This hammered copper barware set is a real statement gift. It’s handcrafted and will last a lifetime) that’s a lot of drink to be made!).
What do you think? Is marble and copper your thing? Which would you get first?
I love to play hostess. Inviting people into my home and welcoming them with food and drink is my love language. But not everyone feels natural in that role–I totally get it. In fact, for many of you, the idea of all that planning, prepping, and entertaining might make you feel completely overwhelmed. Heck, that’s the reason I started this blog back in 2007! I want to share tips and inspiration that takes out the overwhelm and leaves you confident and excited to send out those invites or to cook up a special weeknight meal.
But, even I am guilty of the occasional overthinking, over planning, and overextending myself (just ask my husband and kids!). And I’ll admit I may have had my share of “company is coming” freak-out moments. But despite the slip ups, overall, I like to keep things simple which translates into a less-stressed hostess and a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests.
So, as you start planning those inevitable holiday gatherings I urge you to try your best to keep things as simple as you can and take pressure off of yourself to “do it all” or make everything “prefect.”
Believe me, you’ll be a better hostess and your guests will have an even better time. In fact, here are a few things your guests wish you knew.
1. They are thankful you are hosting (and they don’t have to)
They didn’t have to make sure their toilets were clean, they had drink ice on hand, or have to be the ones cleaning up tonight’s mess, tomorrow. So basically you’re already their favorite person because you’re willing to host at your home.
2. They can’t tell if you baked the pie or if it came from the store
They won’t be able to tell one way or the other so make it easy on yourself and grab food at the market. Just take it out of the packaging and present it in a thoughtful way. (You know, like Sarah Jessica Parker did in I Don’t Know How She Does It.)
Looking for a fun family game? This DIY cactus ring toss game was a huge hit with my family!
We like to play games together often (and we’re also a pretty competitive group so it gets interesting), indoors or out. Since summer is winding down, we’ve been trying to play more outdoor games and that’s what inspired this DIY cactus ring toss game.
The cactus trend is still going strong and I thought making a cactus ring toss game just screamed summer–so viola! It was really easy to make. We were playing within 30 minutes of putting it together (it’s triple digits with a dry heat so the spray paint basically instantly dried). We put ours in a pot so you can technically play this indoors or out (or even take it to the park for a picnic). (more…)