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…)
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
Looking for veggie tray ideas for your next BBQ or dinner party? I love laying out a variety of fresh veggies and dip for guests to enjoy. Especially at a summer BBQ where the menu is typically heavy on grilled meats. A fresh veggie tray is a great way to offer guests a great appetizer to snack on without being to heavy.
When possible, I always head to our local farmers market to pick up some fresh vegetables. I love to mix up what I serve based on what’s in season. And I always look for something unexpected to add into the tray–in this case they were some delicious black figs I discovered.
There are several ways you can go when thinking of veggie tray ideas, but my favorite is creating a long board like this that can go in the center of the table. I find when you put the appetizers off to the side or out of the proximity of where your guests are sitting, they often go untouched. Using a long board almost makes it feel like a colorful (and edible) centerpiece. (more…)
My entertaining style is all about creating a beautiful and thoughtful event but all while keeping things as simple as possible. When I was in middle school, I was addicted to two day time TV shows (I used to record them on VHS every day to watch them when I got home. Sad? Maybe. But totally true). They were Martha Stewart and Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee. Martha was all about details and making things perfect and pretty, while Sandra was all about starting with store bought and elevating it a little to make it impressive and “your own.” My style is definitely a combo of these! So, if you’re looking for pretty (but simple) engagement party ideas, this post is for you! The four parts to the perfect engagement party are: Desserts, appetizers, a themed cocktail, and a couple of thoughtful details. Desserts When it comes to creating beautiful desserts for any party, my secret is to start with store bought. Yep, head to the grocery store or local bakery. You can then dress up these pre-packaged good and re-plate them and no one will know the difference. Plus, you’ll save yourself time and stress if baking isn’t your thing. I picked up this chocolate cake and these eclairs from my local grocery store. Then, I simply put them on a serving platter and added some fresh flowers (also from the grocery store). These blooms are not edible so you would just remove them before eating. If you’e worried about it, you can always pick up some edible flowers. I made this “congrats” cake topper using my new Cricut Explorer Air Machine which totally dressed up the cake. It only took a few minutes to make this vinyl decal that I added to a piece of crafting wood I had. I loved how it turned out! Don’t the desserts look pretty? And there was no baking required! Appetizers Another engagement party idea I love is to serve one appetizer that guests can eat while holding a cocktail. If you want to serve two to offer variety, go for it. But don’t do more than that. This simple appetizer took me a few minutes to put together but looked gorgeous on a plate. Just skewer: watermelon, basil, feta cheese, and a blackberry. Such a unique flavor combo! Themed Cocktail Every great party needs a themed cocktail. I created this “love punch” which would be so fun at an engagement party. The grapefruit gave it the perfect peachy-pink color which was so pretty. I think I’m in love with this grapefruit cocktail actually. (Grab the recipe, here.) Isn’t just so perfect? And it tasted delicious! Thoughtful Details Like the cake topper above, I used my Cricut machine to make a couple more thoughtful details for the party. I made these vinyl heart decals for my punch glasses, and also a decal that said “love punch” that I added to a acrylic sign holder which I placed next to the punch bowl. The glasses might be my favorite element! You can let guests take them home as a party favor. Or, if you want to keep them, remove the decal before washing. They come off very easily and leave no residue on your glass. I also love how the white heart pops from the color of the punch when the glasses are filled. If you’re looking for engagement party ideas that look great but won’t cost a fortune (or require you to turn into Martha Stewart), these ideas are perfect. Start with store bought, dress things up, and add a few details, and you’re ready to entertain! Be sure to check back next week, I’ll show you how to create these thoughtful details. I’ll show you the step-by-step one how I used my Cricut to make the vinyl decals.You can also browse the Cricut Design Space–there are so many great projects to make!
Be sure to enter to WIN your own Cricut machine here.
I was invited to participate in the Cricut Party Blogger Program Kickoff.
This experience is based strictly on my opinion. Others may have a different opinion or experience with the product listed above. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company or PR agency and I have given my honest opinion.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.
If you’re looking for the simplest idea for healthy game day snacks, this is it folks. It’s really simple and will please a crowd. If you’re not planning to make an entire snack stadium tray, this is a similar idea but in individual form.
I love serving appetizers that are easy for guests to grab and eat easily (especially if they’re huddled around the TV watching a game). You can make these dip cups ahead of time by putting your dip into a short plastic cup. I’m loving Heluva Good! Dips because they have a wide variety of flavors that taste amazing. Check them out in the dairy aisle of the supermarket. They are made with real sour cream and lots of flavorful spices. For this recipe I used the Bacon Horseradish flavor which went to well with the veggies. I really liked how it felt like a great dip, with a flavorful upgrade.
Place the dip cups on a platter with a variety of cut veggies. That way guests can choose which they want to dip. I offered celery, carrots, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas. (more…)
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
Super Bowl is around the corner and it’s always a great time to gather with friends and family and have a little fun. Whether you’re into the game or, like me, just in it for the half time show, you know you also get excited for the snacks. I mean, how could one not get excited for the food?
I’ve always been intimidated to make a snack stadium tray in the past, but let me tell you, it does NOT have to be so hard.
A snack stadium is really the ultimate game day party food. It covers all the basis because it’s delicious and doubles as party decor. It’s a game day win-win in my book. The key to creating a snack stadium is choosing a really good dip and building your dip-able snacks around it. (Dip-able is a word, right?)
I love to make it easy with Heluva Good! Dips. They have so many unique flavors (I’ll be sharing some of mine next week with more Super Bowl snack ideas!). You can find Heluva Good! Dips in the dairy aisle of the supermarket. They are made with real sour cream and flavorful spices. Keeping it simple it my style. Really you open up one of these dips and you’re ready to go.
Isn’t this cute? And really, you don’t have to be scared to give it a try. If like me, you’ve seen some of those snack stadiums that look like architectural food palaces that seem to defy gravity, and have been totally intimated, this easy snack stadium tray is for you! Start with a great dip, build your snacks around, add a few simple details and you’re ready for kick-off! (more…)
This is a sponsored post, of course all thoughts are my own.
I have a confession: I absolutely love that after Christmas dinner we always have a ton of leftovers. Why? Well, because for the next few days I tend to stay in my sweats, binge-watch holiday movies, and avoid going to the market at all costs. I’ve come to realize that with a little leftover planning and prep, I can set myself up for delicious meals in the post-Christmas craze. Here are three leftover ham recipes that I plan to serve up next week. Don’t they look delicious?
Ham and Brie Strawberry Sliders These are going to be a hit with the family for sure! Sliders are always fun to serve and the combo of melty brie and ham. I’m drooling already.
Ham and Brie Crostini with Fig Jam Because everything is better with brie. And these would be perfect if you have company coming over. Fig jam sounds fancy (even though it’s totally not) so you’ll look like an awesome hostess.
Smithfield want to inspire you to put those leftovers to good use and they are sharing many inspiring recipes so you can whip up crowd-pleasing dishes. I’m making the three above, be sure to pick a couple and grab your ingredients ahead of time so you aren’t running to the market (well, unless you’re into that sorta thing).
If you weren’t planning on make a ham this holiday you might want to reconsider. I mean, did you see those leftover recipes?! No holiday table is complete without a Smithfield Signature Spiral Sliced Ham. A lot of people don’t realize how easy ham is to prepare – you just pop it in the oven at 275 degrees for about 10 – 12 minutes per pound, then evenly brush on the tasty glaze and you’re done. You seriously cannot mess it up–so simple!