Easy Summer Hosting Tips

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Photography by: Madison Katlin

 As the weather warms up, I’m sure many of you are starting to dine outside! You’ve got more daylight to burn which means more opportunities to spend time in the evenings with friends and family. Since we just finished our patio with Ballard Designs, we spend most of our evenings out there. My girlfriends came over for a little happy hour and dinner two weeks ago and they kept asking me how I threw the table together with a toddler on my hip. I thought it would be fun to share my go-to summer hosting recipes because I assure you these are so simple. If you work late, if you have kids that keep you busy or if you just don’t have the time to spend making things fancy, you can easily throw this together!

5 Tips for Easy Summer Hosting

  • Keep a Bar Cart Stocked

    • We recently got the Jill Bar Cart from Ballard Designs and while it is made for indoors, it rolls so easily to our back patio. Some bar carts are pretty stiff and won’t move with ease, so I liked this feature. I keep it stocked with serving pieces, coffee table books, and champagne. If I know we are going to host, I can easily set that up and I’m not running around looking for a wine glass. You can also seasonally decorate your bar cart if you live in a smaller space and don’t want to set up Thanksgiving, Christmas or Valentine’s decor all over. It’s a great way to not clutter the rest of your room!
  • Have a Go-To Menu on Your Computer

    • This is going to sound nuts, I know. But I promise you, it’s my favorite trick and people always comment on how thoughtful the table looks! Make a little PDF on your computer {I use Adobe Elements, but you could use something much simpler, even a word document!} of a menu. You don’t have to fill in the exact menu, but just put your family’s monogram up top and list out “Appetizers” “Main Course” “Desserts.” Then before a party, type in the menu, print on nice paper and you’ve got an easy party detail that took you 5 minutes total. You’ll use this way more than you think. If you don’t want to spend money on flowers, this is always a fabulous and inexpensive touch!
  • Don’t Stress Patterns

    • If you’ve got a color scheme going on with your patio, you don’t have to match it to your dinnerware. Don’t over think patterns, most classic ones will always blend! Our patio has black and white stripes, palm print pillows and tortoise vases. Those are pretty classic prints, so you can easily work in a color scheme. The Bamboo Melamine Dinnerware we got from Ballard Designs is shatterproof {perfect for outdoor/toddler dining!} and have pops of blue and white. In the end, this definitely gives the table an eclectic look, but it works when you choose classic prints to start off with. I also use these placemats from Ballard! I have had these for quite a while and you all always ask about them!
  • Choose Full Flowers

    • When you are arranging your flowers, you could spend 30+ minutes perfecting rose arrangements or something of the like. Grab fuller flowers for outdoor dining! I love blue hydrangeas for outdoor dining as I don’t have to fuss over cutting a million stems. I use the Tortoise Vases by Bunny Williams as they match my cups! I also use these wine glasses for my banana pudding!
  • Know Your Simple Recipes

    • If your guests are outside, you don’t want to be inside all evening preparing courses. Have a few simple recipes you can always reach for and I’ll share mine below! If you have any, feel free to share in the comments so other women can reference. I truly believe outdoor dining is all about enjoying the ambiance and the company. Plus, who wants to feel stuffed from some fancy recipe when it is 90 degrees out?! I always reach for my summer pasta salad, roasted ranch asparagus, and deviled eggs when dining al fresco. These can be made quickly and while you’re chatting with friends because you truly can’t mess them up! Below are the recipes, and I also made a small little graphic you can save to your phone to have on hand as well!
      • Katey’s Deviled Eggs: I always eyeball this recipe, so it’s not 100% exact! I’ll boil about 8 to 10 eggs. Everyone has their own way of boiling eggs, but this is my go-to method. I’ll boil for about 7 minutes, then I will put the eggs in a bowl with water and ice to stop the cooking. I let them sit for a few minutes and then peel. Slice eggs in half lengthwise and transfer the yolks to a bowl. I will mash the yolks with 1/4 C of mayo, 1 tbs of dijon mustard, 1 tsp sugar, salt, pepper and a dash of hot sauce for good measure! Mix well and then spoon the egg whites with the filling. I will slice cornichons and garnish the eggs with those!
      • Summer Pasta Salad: Cook your pasta of choice, I love fusilli for this! Once cooked, rinsed and cooled I top the pasta with pesto. Use enough pesto that the pasta is gently coated, then I squeeze one lemon over the pasta! If you need to thin the pesto out, you can add a little bit of the pasta water to the sauce. I add in a handful of arugula, sliced cherry tomatoes {I will slice a pint} and fresh mozzarella cheese. Before I serve, I drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar.
      • Roasted Ranch Asparagus: I found out about ranch asparagus from Six Sisters’ Stuff and have been making it since they posted it. I add parmesan cheese and lemon juice to mine as well!

I hope this tablescape gives you a bit of inspiration for your next family dinner! I feel like I love the blue and white paired with black and white Ballard stripes because it reminds me so much of our first home and how I decorated it. How do you decorate for dining al fresco? See more outdoor dining decor here.

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  1. Simple recipes are a life saver when it comes to hosting! I always use tried-and-tested recipes! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Published 29 May 18Reply
  2. Kristen wrote:

    Such a fun post! Another mega-cheat for your hard boiled eggs would be buying the pre-packaged ones from costco! (Also a great snack to have on hand)

    Published 29 May 18Reply
  3. I am obsessed with your whole look here Katey! You have to do a bun tutorial, yours is adorable!

    Published 29 May 18Reply
  4. Jazz wrote:

    My go-to recipes tend to change over time but these have been very consistent for the last few years!
    This simple pasta bake is one of my go-tos for easy entertaining: https://www.dashofjazz.com/valentines-day-date-night-in/#wprm-recipe-container-16634
    This sangria is always a hit at summer gatherings and I love that it can be made ahead: https://www.dashofjazz.com/sweet-spicy-sangria/
    And this dip is easy to make and everyone always wants the recipe: https://www.dashofjazz.com/praline-brie-dip/

    Published 30 May 18Reply
  5. Claire wrote:

    So much work went into that post, thank you. And now I must dash to make deviled eggs for my husband who saw your photos on my screen and has been bargaining with me for them ever since!

    Published 30 May 18Reply
  6. Yes! Keeping the bar cart stocked is a must!


    Published 31 May 18Reply
  7. Teresa wrote:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing the recipes. I’d love to know where you got the personalized napkins?

    Published 31 May 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Teresa! They were a Christmas gift, but I think the brand is Mud Pie! xo, Katey

      Published 31 May 18Reply
  8. Laura Leigh wrote:

    The tablescape looks amazing – love the table settings! And the tips are fabulous. Thank you Katey!

    xo Laura Leigh

    Published 06 Jun 18Reply
  9. Nicole L. wrote:

    Hi Katey! What size paper do you use for your menus?

    Published 13 Jun 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Nicole! I normally print and cut at a 5×7″! Hope that helps! xo, Katey

      Published 14 Jun 18Reply