Seven-Up and Planning

Days are brighter, air is warmer, and flowers are blooming, is Spring finally here … and so its time for a party!

Love the idea of having friends and acquaintances meet and mingle, but dread the work it takes to plan and prepare? Well, follow my 7 easy steps and tips for easy entertaining that will still leave your guests impressed and you’ll enjoy your next gathering as much as they do!

1. Absolute first step to make all the next steps fall into place: Pick your theme and create the mood. Your theme can be anything that inspires you — a color, culture, or an activity (“Game Night” anyone?). The theme will help create the resulting mood. Are you hosting a Sunday brunch that you would like to be a bit more pristine and elegant or is it a casual, dress comfortably, outdoor bbq?

2. Now onto the Food! Let the theme and mood dictate the fare – Cocktails by Poolside?- you are fine with making some light hors d’oeuvres, no need for a 7 course meal this time. And of course hosting a barbeque, but a bit more Great Gatsby in nature, then grill up some steaks and chicken as opposed to your hamburgers and hot dogs for a more casual bbq. Still simple enough but slightly more elegant for guests donned in their white pinstripes. And remember your menu need not require hours of preparation. Be creative and find ways to make simple dishes have more flair. For example, instead of a typical circular crudités platter with dip in the middle, slice cucumbers and creatively dollop the dip on top, fill mushrooms and endive cups with the dip, and top both with grated carrots.

3. Getting thirsty? Onto Drinks! I like to display beverages so they are as inviting as the food. Present glasses on a tray and chill your drinks in a galvanized tin that can be decorated according to your theme. Use your theme and mood to choose the drinks and limit them accordingly, no need to be as fully stocked as your neighborhood bar. Not only is this cost effective, but you can focus on offering some unusual beverages or update a typical suspect. For instance, serving ice tea at your Gatsby barbeque? Why not garnish it with a peach and top with a sprig of mint. Simple, easy to do, and oh so elegant!

4. Plan and organize your Music in advance so you won’t be fumbling with plastic cases as your guests arrive. Background music helps set your mood and can spark some interesting conversation (or dancing even) if you should have an unexpected lull in the festivities.

5. Keep it simple and don’t overdue the Décor. You needn’t have everything red, white, and blue for your 4th of July Party. Colored candles on wooden stakes in a small silver bucket make a delightful centerpiece that subtlety says ‘Happy Birthday USA’.

6. Prepare ahead. Don’t leave your shopping for the day of the party and remember that you are not just shopping for the perishables. Check your pantry and be sure you have enough salt and pepper and napkins and don’t forget the ice! Also prepare as much food the day before as possible and be fresh and rested for your guests. You’ll be surprised as what you can make in advance, including your potato salad! — cook and chop the potatoes and make the dressing in advance, but keep them separate and marry the two a few hours before guests arrive. You can even set your table the day before your party.

7. Now on to the most important part of your party, enjoy and be the perfect host or hostess! Talk to all of your guests and introduce them to each other by noting common interests if they seem to be stuck for a topic of conversation …Golf anyone?