Want to make your guests feel extra special when they drop round to enjoy your country-style hospitality this summer?
Maybe it’s a sunny brunch on the deck looking out to the hills, or a casual bite to eat back at yours after a morning with the gang at the beach. A cocktail party by the pool or a special dinner in the dining room with the doors thrown open so you can all enjoy the evening breeze whispering through the trees.
Whatever the time of day you decide to gather your friends and family, our 6 easy steps to holiday entertaining have your event planning covered.
- The guest list
Your turn to host the family’s traditional Boxing Day catch-up? Been a while since you and your besties dressed up and enjoyed a meal together? Haven’t had chance to catch up with the neighbours recently? Whatever the reason, the summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to spend time with those you love and those you want to get to know better.
Once you’ve drawn up your guest list, you can make the invitations as casual or as formal as you like. Why not design a personal invitation that can be emailed, attached to a text or popped through a letterbox letting your guests know the time, day and location, and whether or not you’d like them to bring anything. A dress code or theme can be fun, adding to the sense of occasion. If you’re catering for a large number of people, don’t forget to ask your guests to RSVP by a certain date.
2. The menu
Consider choosing dishes that can be largely prepared ahead, leaving you more time to spend with your guests. This could be anything from platters of finger food or a buffet-style banquet laid out on long tables in the alfresco while your guests mingle and chat, to a simple, but impressive, three-course feast in the dining room following pre-dinner drinks on the verandah.
Menus can be easier to plan when you have a theme or starting point. Seafood if you’re by the coast maybe? Or delicacies from your local farms and small producers? Locally-sourced produce is always a winner.
3. The liquid refreshment
As well as a boutique beer or two and a perfectly chilled rosé, chardonnay or chenin, summer is also the perfect time for spritzers, cocktails and mocktails. Retro mint julep anyone? Or a classic island-inspired Mai Tai? Line up a few crowd-pleasers and make sure there’s lots of ice, fresh juice and slices of fruit. And don’t forget to keep your guests’ water glasses topped up.
4. The table setting
Why not let an awe-inspiring location be your muse when dressing your summer table? By the coast, with ocean views forever and cooling sea breezes? Maybe you connect with the bright and breezy colours of Mediterranean styling. Citrus – lemons, oranges and limes piled high, or a few leafy branches snipped from the tree – make a simple but striking centrepiece. Or perhaps coastal inspiration comes in the form of soft blues and lots of fresh white, with driftwood and delicate floral sprays.
Nestled amongst the trees, surrounded by bushland and wildlife? A vase of slender, leafy stems or flowers fresh from the garden can help set the scene. Mother Nature is generous with colour, texture and shape. At night, moonlight and the soft flicker of candles might be all you need to illuminate your outdoor dining space.
5. The tunes
From jingle bells and sleigh bells for festive vibes, to chill-out numbers for laid-back lunches and classic jukebox hits for dancing the night away, music streaming services let you put together the perfect playlist.
6. The finishing touches
Want to take the presentation up a notch? A place card for each of your guests at the table is always a nice touch. And maybe an individual gift they can take away with them when they leave, such as a bauble for their Christmas tree, a posy of hand-picked flowers in a small vase or some homemade cookies or truffles. It is the holidays after all.