Summer Entertaining Made Easy

Studio 5 executive producer, Michelle Kettle shares five tips for making your summer soiree both affordable and attainable.

The real work in entertaining is in the planning and preparation, so do the work once and recycle your theme throughout the year.

When I found a darling daisy serving plate that I just couldn’t live without, I decided to create a daisy party theme that could be used for a friend’s baby shower, a garden party with girlfriends, mom’s birthday, a backyard barbeque, and a “favorite things” party with my sisters. It’s my simple entertaining philosophy:

1. Pick an inspiration piece (a color, a serving dish, a flower, a quote)

2. Once you’ve picked a theme, be on the lookout for ideas and accessories to compliment your theme. Once you have an idea in your head, it’s amazing what will pop out at you when you’re at the craft store, Target, the grocery store, etc.

3. Make a minor investment in some key accessories that will make your party pop. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is worth the money.

4. Use your theme throughout the year – incorporate it into baby/wedding showers, birthday parties, lunch with friends, backyard barbeques and picnics.

Five tips for making your party chic, stylish and stress-free:

1. Select a big impact idea: Incorporate a “big” idea into your party. It both “wows” your guests and
sets the theme for the party – it also serves as your décor.

Easy Ideas:

– Create a posterboard stencil and use it to decorate the path to your front door with sidewalk chalk or paint. Stencils can also be used on the grass by misting your grass with water and sifting flour on top of the stencil to create the image.

– Parasol planters are another way to make a big impact. Spray paint a flower pot or find plastic buckets; fill with rocks, and place parasols inside. You can find parasols at or Zurcher’s party stores.

– Use lanterns or create your own tissue pom-pom’s to hang from an outdoor patio. Directions for creating tissue pom-pom’s can be found on Martha Stewart’s website at .

2. Create tabletop charm: A charming table sets the stage for what’s to come and let’s your guests know that this is special.

– Create your own dishware by stamping images on melamine plates. You can also die-cut your images out of contact paper or self-adhesive vinyl. Place glass plates over the melamine plates, to prevent paint or adhesives from touching the food.

– Create fun cake stands by filling a vase with small candies such as lemonheads. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and flip upside down. The bottom of the base can hold a plate and becomes an instant cake stand. Be sure to use double-sided adhesive to hold the plate in place.

– Fruit centerpieces are easy to make by placing a smaller vase inside a larger vase – you need about an inch between the two. Place sliced lemons, limes, or candies between the two vases and use the inside vase to hold your flowers.

– Look for unique centerpiece ideas like this ribbon spool idea from Rachael Ray .

3. Add the personal touch: Include your guests names and/or small gifts to make it personal.

– Once I had my theme, I found a daisy cupcake tin at Williams-Sonoma and that becomes my personal touch for each of my parties – a cute cupcake with each guests name.

– Sugaring your glasses and adding a straw with your theme element attached is another easy way to make it personal.

4. Find one fabulous food: Pick something unique that you are going to specialize in and will garner lots of compliments for being fun and different.

– Instead of trying to be fabulous at everything, pick one thing that your guests will remember such as these dessert cones from Rachael Ray—Cream-Cones .

5. Initiate interactivity: The best parties are those in which guests interact in new ways and that is often initiated by the hostess.

– Have your guests “show & tell” one of their favorite things – it’s a great way to learn about your friend’s can’t live without mascara, or the Swiffer mops you’ve always wanted to try.

– Ask your guests to bring and share a piece of advice that has changed their life.

– Ask your guests to bring five pictures that sum up their summer.

– Ask your guests to “show & tell” a project they are working on – knitting, a scrapbook, a cookbook, etc.
Once you’ve thrown one party using your theme, put everything away in a Rubbermaid storage unit and tape a laminated grocery list, recipes, and a picture of how you set it up on the outside of the box. Your next party will be a cinch!

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