Quick and Easy Tips for Entertaining

Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything just happens all at once and the world just keeps piling on? This past week was such a week as we had graduations, an all day volunteering at Taste of the Nation Food Festival, wedding dress fittings, videographer interviews…and to top it all off we had a last minute dinner party!

Being a part of Foodbuzz has it’s perks, including opting in to win some fabulous opportunities. We applied to host a summer party sponsored by Cost Plus World Market and didn’t think about the consequences or even think we’ll be selected—but we were. And we literally had 24 hours to it from the time we were notified to the only time we could squeeze a dinner party in on our tight schedule.

summer party

Although we’ve hosted parties with up to 50-60 people before, this was probably the fastest we’ve thrown a party together. Judging from the responses, we didn’t think it turned out all that badly! So this is what we’ve learned and some of our tips on how to throw together a party on short notice.

summer party

One Stop Shopping:

Minimize the number of places you have to go for party supplies.  If you ever dreamed of having the same decor that you see on the pages of food and wine magazines, Cost Plus World Market is the place for unique party supplies.  Featuring  hard to find and affordable decorate accessories from all over the world from India inspired candles and tableware to Chinese inspired lanterns and umbrellas. The beauty is that that you can find similar color coordinating items easily. We got everything from the lanterns, tableware, party favor boxes, drinks, wine,  and unique snacks for the gift baskets.  We hung twine around the lamp posts and hung alternating white and blue lanterns as well as lanterns around our manzanita tree.  Just adding these simple touches really transform a back yard party into something special.

summer party

Foods that feed many:

While hamburgers and hot dogs may be the go to foods in a pinch. Think outside the box and get an entire flank steak.  Typically this is about 2-2.5 lbs and can easily serve 4-6. Think of it this way—is it harder or longer to grill 6 burgers or 1 flank steak?  We think it’s probably the same, if not easier grilling one item. This cut of steak is quick to sear and slice up and can be served alone with sides or in buns with your favorite condiments.  Also, choose sides that are no fuss. We used organic ripe tomatoes on the vine, simply dressed it with olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper and roasted in the oven for a delicious side.  The goodness is in the product, so no need to fancy it up.

summer party

No Fuss Drinks and Desserts:

The same concept for entrees and sides can also be applied to desserts. We had a tray of graham crackers, chocolate, and marsh mellows for guests to roast in a fire pit to make s’mores.  Let the guests do some of the work fun cooking themselves so they feel more involved.   Another handy tip is keeping a squeeze bottle of simple syrup (water and sugar) for quick lemonades or even cocktails.

To see how we put it all together in a short time, check out the video above. Thank you Cost Plus World Market and Foodbuzz for making it possible!

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