There’s nothing quite like the old Kiwi BBQ on a pleasant summer night. The smell of steak on the barbie brings back countless memories of lounging in the sun, laughter between friends and families and staying up until it got dark (which happens to be almost 10.30pm in the middle of a Southland summer). My parents were always great hosts and their house has always been, and still is one of those houses that everyone seems to congregate at after church on Sunday for lunch. We were told more times than not, to invite friends over for a feed after church and that’s exactly what we did.
When I got married and moved in with Aaron I knew that I wanted the same kind of feel at our house. Thanks to my Mum and Dad’s fabulous entertaining skills, I’ve learnt a few tips to makes your summer evenings run smoothly so they’re more about spending time with one another and less about dishes and dirt.
Tip 1: Think About the Flow of Your House
Think about where you guests will come in, where they can take their shoes off (if that’s a things in your house), put jackets and bags, etc. I like to have a nice tidy and clean house, even if it only lasts a few hours!
Tip 2: Set up a Drinks Station
Every good gathering has a well stocked drink station! Definitely a must have for summer entertaining! I have a drinks dispenser that I like to put water in, and then a flexi tub of ice for the other drinks. Having some kind of system to label glasses/cups is a great idea too! Try a vivid and/or washi tape!
Tip 3: Shuffle Around Furniture Inside
We don’t have a particularly large living area so if I know we’re going to have lots of people over I like to arrange our lounge differently in order to accommodate everyone. I always take the chairs from around the dining table and scatter them elsewhere. I sometimes move the TV cabinet and put the TV in another room to make extra space too. Beanbags can be a great option for a bit of extra seating too!
Tip 4: Clear Space in Your Fridge and Freezer
If you’re having a potluck style dinner where guests bring their own contributions, it’s likely that they’ll want to put things in the fridge, freezer and maybe the oven! I’ve made the mistake many times of forgetting about this job and then having to rearrange everything to fit a tub of ice-cream in the freezer.
Tip 5: Start with an Empty Dishwasher
It takes no time at all for the kitchen to fill up with dirty dishes after dinner so make sure you empty the dishwasher before everyone arrives. It saves the hassle of emptying it later on.
Tip 6: Snacks!
I love a good snack platter! It’s always good to have a bit of a pre-dinner snack, especially while the men try and figure out if that steak is cooked of not. Snack platters don’t need to be fancy, most people are happy with chips and dip or crackers and cheese!
Tip 7: Check the Bathroom
I like to make sure that the toilet and bathroom are spotless before people come over. I put a fresh hand towel out and make sure the soap is fully stocked too!
Tip 8: Create a Playlist
Music sets the mood for summer entertaining and helps provide a bit of atmosphere, especially for the first person that arrives! Put together a playlist on Spotify or simply choose someone else remade playlist. Just don’t have the volume up too high as your guests still want to hear each other speak.
Tip 9: Consider Your Lighting
The things about events in the evening in summer is that its usually light when people arrive and dark when they leave. I like to hang up a few fairy lights and light a few lanterns outside instead of just flicking on the flood light.
Tip 10: Light a Candle
I love walking into a house with a sweet smelling candle burning. It just makes it feel so homely and nice! I have a rather extensive stash of scented candles with various ones dotted around my living area.
Tip 11: Decorate for the Occasion
This one is totally not a must, but something I enjoy doing when we’re doing a bit of summer entertaining. I faked a letter board in the photo above by putting stickers on a blackboard. If you want a proper letter board, you can get one here.
Tip 12: Consider Your Outdoor Setting
And no, I’m not talking about $4000 outdoor furniture. We have a few half size pallets for tables with a pot plant on top for a bit of decoration. If you don’t have any outdoor seating, just tell people to bring a camp chair!
I hope you enjoyed my summer entertaining tips! I’m looking forward to longer, warmer evenings spent with family and friends.