Now that summer is in full swing, I am gearing up for some fun outdoor parties at our house. Whether it's a small party for four, a spur of the moment drinks on the patio event or a full blown mega get together, there are a few tricks I use to make these events a success.
One of the things I have learned about summer entertaining is to keep things simple. Simple doesn't necessarily mean serving in tupperware or red solo cups. Simple, for me, translates into planning ahead, making ahead and limiting the menu. I admit I don't always follow my advice - but when I do my parties are more fun for all, including this hostess!
The Bluebird household has an extra special summer event coming up at our house and I am sharing some of my party planning tips with you today. Our Sweet Daughter will be attending graduate school at Virginia Tech for the next two years and will be moving there at the end of July. We are throwing her a going away party.
The fine folks over at Paperless Post offer a huge variety of cards, both online and paper. I am a paper invite kind of girl, but I know Sweet Daughter is more of an online fan. I thought these Kate Spade invites were so fun. These are available as an ecard only, but at $6.00 for ten - and no postage - I think I am converting to online invites!
Paperless Post is a new to me site that I have discovered to be an awesome and affordable source for invitations and cards. They have a huge variety of online/paper cards, stationery, invites - all are customizable, which means no more hand writing out a gazillion cards/invites! They also offer many free products that you can use if you are on a budget. I think you should check them out! ( Note: Paperless Post contacted me to do this post, but I was not compensated in any way and the opinions are my own.)
For the party, we chose an All Things Wisconsin theme. I think it is always important to establish a theme for an event - it makes it so much easier to have a framework to plan your party around. We are keeping decor simple, but I know I will be incorporating little flags of our favorite Wisconsin sports teams and also will include a Virginia Tech garden flag. I am going to string them together banner style and hang them on our patio pavilion.
No party is complete without a great menu. We are cooking up some of our favorite Wisconsin bites, including:
We will be grilling them up ahead of time, serving them with buns, sauerkraut, onions, ketchup and mustard - this scream Wisconsin summer! Of course, no sausage entree would be complete without a Milwaukee Midget Dill Pickle...
What would a Wisconsin event would be without cheese? Mr. Bluebird will be deep frying up more than one batch of this decadent treat. Although it is not something that can be prepared in advance, we do set up the deep fryer outside - keeping the kitchen clean, cool and allows guest participation and conversation.
One of our favorite family activities each summer is attending the Wisconsin State Fair. And, the one thing none of us can resist is the famous and delicious Wisconsin State Fair cream puffs. They are like no other and and are sooooo good! The puff part of the cream puff is very easy to make and can be frozen (a huge time saver), so Sweet Daughter requested cream puffs for dessert. I will fill them with delicious fresh whipped cream - the Fair puffs have a secret to their cream recipe, but I have come close to replicating over the years. Yum yum yum (may have to make a "test" batch ahead of time, lol)!
As a nod to Virginia, I have ordered several bags of their famous Route 11 chips - they will be a fun, tasty and simple side to our bratwurst.
I am also going to whip up some Virginia fried fruit hand pies. I found an easy, make ahead recipe from the always amazing Pioneer Woman.
Besides cheese, no Wisconsin party would be without beer and one of our family favorites is Spotted Cow. There will plenty to go around, along with lemonade, sodas and water, of course.
I will fill in with a few other sides and snacks - potato salad, Italian pasta salad, taco dip and fresh fruit and veggies. To simplify things, I will use disposable paper plates, cups, napkins and flatware. I am also planning to order out the fruit and veggie trays. I like to use stoneware bowls I have put in the freezer over night to serve my cold salads...it helps keeps them nice & cool. Another trick I like to use to keep cold food cold, is to use smaller serving bowls and trays that can be replenished as needed. It assures food is kept at a safe temperature and prevents waste.
We are looking forward to sharing our special Wisconsin send off for our daughter with our friends and family later this summer. I will be sharing pics with you - so stay tuned, and pray for good weather!
Any summer parties in your plans this year? I'd love to hear your ideas to make entertaining fun and easy!
Thanks for stopping by,