I’m thrilled to have Danielle Rollins as a guest here today! I’m sure you’ve all ogled the photos of her beautiful home designed by Miles Redd and published everywhere, including most recently in Veranda where she is a contributing editor. (It’s truly one of my all-time favorite homes in Atlanta.)
Well, she also happens to be the best selling author of Soiree, Entertaining with Style (Rizzoli 2012) so as we prepare to host all those summer parties, who better to give us some tips? So please welcome Danielle Rollins to FTRB!
Any time you entertain having a general guideline, whether it is a feeling you’re trying to evoke, a theme or simply from some inspiration you want to share with your guests, having a thought-out “Garanimals” approach helps you create a party that feels cohesive and it also makes planning the table settings, menu, flowers and other details MUCH easier! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Garanimals, this children’s clothing line is all about what goes with what to allow easy mixing & matching to create multiple looks. This is the principle you want to always go back to for flawless entertaining!
Summer Entertaining Tips
Buffets & family style serving is perfect for summer outdoor entertaining!
Keep courses simple, fresh and light. Salads & cold soups for starters then, easy entrees – whether it is a one dish main course, like farm fresh veggie topped pizzas, or chicken enchiladas with verde tomatillo salsa. or something that can be served at room temperature and you can prepare ahead such as grilled chicken breasts & multiple sides. And stick with light fruit-based desserts, ice creams or sorbets.
Think about foods that are from countries with warmer climates as a guide – e.g., Mexican, Italian and Thai for flavor influences.
Avoid things that could spoil in the heat (think mayonnaise), must be served hot, with heavy sauces or overly complicated.
Add a twist to an obvious choice. For instance, a Thai basil lemongrass vodka gimlet or a pineapple jalapeno margarita or a lemoncello sparkler are all delicious choices!
For wines and beers, I often consult with my local wine store on what to serve to compliment the menu.
Not to sound like a broken record, but keep it seasonal! For the novice floral arranger it is easiest to use all one flower in a single color, or use a single flower in multiple colors. Or branch out and use multiple flower variety in a single shade. Sunflowers in a cylinder vase filled with limes sliced in half elevates a very inexpensive flower into a real wow! Don’t forget pots of simple flowering plants or herbs can be beautiful as well as economical!
4. Table Settings
Make your table settings fit the feeling of your menu or fit within the surrounding area that nature’s backdrop provides. www.Tablevogue.com makes machine washable & affordable fitted table covers in a large range of sizes & colors (Mention my name to get free shipping!). You can easily make table overlays from fabric purchased at a fabric store or from tablecloths available at various retailers to create a great looking setting!
For the dinnerware, melamine, tin & even bamboo plates are great options if you don’t want to worry about something breaking. Colorful glassware adds a nice pop and there are a lot of options available in both inexpensive glass and unbreakable but still quite chic plastic.
Let your imagination go! Entertaining should be fun!
5. Ambience & Atmosphere
Keep things feeling casual & easy yet still elegant by the thoughtful details & personal touches you provide to make the party perfect!
Make the bar just as special as the tables. It is not an afterthought. Flowers & flavorful nibbles mixed in with easy to access premixed pitchers of cocktails, wine, beer & plenty of ice will always be a hit!
Making sure your guests are comfortable is always key for a host or hostess. Just like no one wants a heavy meal, when the temperatures rise, no one wants to put on heavy & constricting clothing, so suggesting casual summer attire on the invitation will ensure your guests will be much happier!
Start dinner a little later so that you are not trying to eat before the sun has gone down & temperatures cooperate a little bit more!
Balance your lighting. Using a mix of torches, hurricanes, lanterns, strings of light or paper globes hung from above and lots of votives on the table to provide ambient light will keep guests lingering a little longer. The key is to provide enough light so that everyone can see what they are eating & yet avoid feeling like you’re dining under searchlights! Need an added bonus? Everyone looks better in candlelight!
Music should fit the mood of the party. Download a playlist & bring out the portable speakers! Sexy French lounge music, or bossa nova might even get guests dancing barefoot later on!
Thank you so much for sharing your tips with us today, Danielle! To learn more about Danielle please visit her website.
(Photos by John Kernick for Soiree, Entertaining with Style)