Planning ahead can help ease the burden of hosting - but even a last-minute event can be simple and free of stress. Just relax, and follow these tips from Bellucci for prepping your summer party - and you’ll find yourself celebrating in no time!
Keep it cool.
Ice is as essential to a summer party as it is to the winter olympics—so stock up! If you have limited freezer space (don’t we all), then simply fill an empty cooler with bags for later—or, pile them up in a clean bathtub, and dip into your stash to refresh smaller buckets or bowls, as needed. Remember, cubed ice lasts longer and, if needed, you can always use your kitchen blender to really crush it (pun intended).
Warm temperatures are not for the faint of heart, so make sure you offer your guests plenty of choice when it comes to libations. Stock an empty cooler with bags of ice, and whip up a mondo batch of your favorite cocktail or mocktail before guests arrive, to feature your own signature drink. (Need some inspiration? We love these healthy, refreshing drinks from Shape.com, which can be prepared with or without alcohol.)
Also, don’t overlook the value of good ‘ol H20. We suggest ditching the tub full of plastic water bottles in favor of eco-friendly dispensers or pitchers. Add a few slices of cucumber, a handful of mint, or your favorite citrus fruit, and voilà! Plain old tap water transforms instantly into a tasty refresher.
Keep it simple (and fresh!).
Fresh food is far better than a complex menu, so build your menu around simple staples that you can jazz up with local seasonal fruits, veggies, and seasonings.
We love to draw on authentic Italian cuisine—the people of Italy long ago mastered the art of group dining in warmer climes. Most Mediterranean-inspired recipes also fare well in big batches and can be prepared in part or whole prior to your guests’ arrival.
An extra bonus? This type of cuisine doesn’t just taste delightful, it’s incredibly satisfying and also good for you! Authentic Italian cuisine and Mediterranean-inspired options tend to center on nutritious foods, and are rich in healthy fats and polyphenols. One of the staples—extra virgin olive oil—is not only a health-boosting ingredient, it’s a versatile and delicious addition to any summer meal. Bellucci authentic Italian EVOO adds fresh, verdant flavor and depth to grilled meats, salads, and veggie dishes, so drizzle it over your favorite recipes, and taste the magic.
Our best suggestions for planning a stunning (yet simple) menu:
- Choose a protein dish which is easy to prep in bulk prior to grilling, like these lovely Lemon Herb Chicken Thighs.
- Pair it with a simple, stay-fresh salad or pasta. (We love this Mediterranean Orzo Salad!)
- For a delightful side dish, feast on our Grill Roasted Fingerlings or simply roasted veggies tossed in authentic Italian EVOO - both of which are excellent choices for your vegetarian guests.
- For a delightful, refreshing dessert - the night prior to your party, toss your favorite fresh fruit and juice into a blender, and mix. Pour into ice trays, and freeze overnight. Pop them out for the party, and serve with a splash of Prosecco - you’ve got an instant adult treat, sure to please!
Supplement all of this with a platter or two of fresh, chopped fruit and local veggies, and you’ve got a well-rounded spread with little prep mid-celebration.
A tip from the Pro’s:
Delegate the chopping to friends and family, and the work will fly by in no time! Which brings us to…
Ask for help.
Really. No one expects you to go it alone—and spending time with loved ones is really the point of all this, right? So, invite your guests to contribute, either by bringing shareable items like bar mixers and mezze, or helping out with the prep work by taking on simple tasks. A sense of teamwork and shared accomplishments makes even the best party even more memorable!
Keep trash bins close at hand, and stash a few extra bags nearby. Clearly mark receptacles for compost or recyclables, so you don’t have to sort them out later. Clearing your prep areas and dishwasher prior to guest arrival will help you keep clutter to a minimum and streamline the clean-up process when all is done. And, for those of you who hate the washing-up part, invest in some eco-friendly disposables and give yourself a break. We love this list by WildLeaf tableware.
We shouldn’t have to remind you, but we will: It’s really all about gathering family and friends for a good time, so don’t lose sight of the goal! If the food isn’t perfect or the decor is a flop, you really haven’t lost anything, as long as you have a good time. Spend less of your time fussing, and most of the night relaxing and connecting with loved ones. That’s why they all showed up, after all!
As always, Bellucci is happy to help you host the most epic events, so check back frequently for more great recipes, tips, and tricks for entertaining. Pour More!