When I entertain, I become this hyper-focused soul with two missions: provide great food and create a sexy ambiance. It’s really that simple. In the middle of summer, barring any major heat waves or monsoons, I defer to taking it all outside! The fresh, au natural environment lends to perfect backdrops to design the look you want. When Madria Sangria and I started coming up with tips for entertaining at home, I was beyond the moon excited! A national platform to show off some fun and ultra easy (not to mention affordable) ways to impress your guests, even the unpolished, uninvited ones, because yes, we all have those friends and fam that live in that “me” bubble and will just show up. Styling and ambient creativity apart, sharing some of my favorite summer recipes for afternoon or evening fetes was a delicious order.
As summer and fall approach, I’ll be dishing out my recipes and tips on TV, print, and online. The first, a few weeks ago on Telemundo‘s ‘Buenos Dia Nueva York‘ morning show, was more about setting eclectically appealing styles for your fiesta. But with a few sips in hand for the hostess and me.
For starters, I always design my menu a week in advance in order to give myself time to modify the dishes… if that works out for you without serious alterations, moving on to the look and theme of your party is where it’s all really at. Consider your geographic location for inspiration. If I were in Miami, where palm trees line the driveway, I’d opt for a completely different theme. No one living there wants to see more of the same at someone else’s house, right?! But, an adobe, Tex-Mex vibe with cactus plants throughout would be so fly and different. Of course, being in DC, I can choose all kinds of looks since we are so far from desert and water…
No matter what theme I end up going with, here are a few sure ways to keep your guests feeling like family, warm, and enthused about enjoying an evening with you.
Mason Jar Lighting: Give your outdoor night party some sparkle – fill old mason jars with colored sand and candles. Place them throughout your party space as decor, cluster a few on tables to create a centerpiece or line them along your backyard walkway as a special touch.
I’ve done this several times in the last 5 years and it’s always a copy-cat hit! You can always experiment with the designed paint job… like a Missoni-inspired jar to match colorful table setting like in this post.
Tostada and Salsa Bar: Switch up your dinner party routine by letting your guests customize their meal with DIY tostada and salsa bars. For salsas, chop up a variety of unique chiles, fruits and vegetables and serve with chips. For tostadas, have pre-cooked shrimp, chicken, carnitas and steak and fill bowls with a variety of toppings including lettuce, tomatoes, jicima slaw, avocado, lime scented black beans and queso fresco. Let your guests pick their favorites.
This saves so much time and allows your guests to do their own thing without much effort on your part to make so much uniform food!
Newspaper Wrap: Shake up your party platter – wrap sandwiches or tacos in different sections of your local newspaper to identify the type of sandwiches your serving (turkey, beef, vegetarian, etc.). First, wrap half of the sandwich in clear plastic wrap. Then, fold newspaper around the plastic wrap – use a toothpick to secure your delicious creation.
This is probably the one I spend most time on and just love to see my friends’ reaction! It’s so fun to do this unconventionally and it work to everyone’s delight. Literally. You know I love the fashion and travel sections most!
Fruity Bites: For a refreshing dessert, hollow out a halved watermelon and fill with fresh cut fruit. For an adult twist, pour Madria Sangria Tradicional or Moscato on top for a sangria fruit salad. Serve along with skewers so your guest can pick and enjoy.
This just rocks. Every time.
These are just teasers! I’ve got a fab list of other ideas to host a chic fiesta any time this summer, so I’ll invite you to check out my Tweets, FB posts, and on the chance you catch me on a live TV segment, you’ll really get a feel for how easy the party set up is! For now, check out the Telemundo NY segment. If you don’t speak Spanish, just watch it a few times… chalk it up to a great mini Spanish lesson!
Here’s one of the cocktail recipes I’m clinging to this summer, using the tradicional sangria, which by the way is ready to sip after chilling. No fuss kind of cocktailing.
What are you staple tips for entertaining at home?