HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE

Hello there! So, my husband’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago. I love that he was born in the month of July, as it’s the perfect month for entertaining alfresco, something I love to do on our European-style terrace. So today I’d like to share with you how to host a sensational summertime soirée.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Party Planning

Any party worth executing will require a good deal of planning & advance prep work. So I start with the following:

  • A Guest List (To determine how many people I’m seating and feeding)
  • A Menu
  • A Shopping List
  • A To-Do List

Flower Arrangements

Flowers can be very expensive when ordered through a florist so I always make my own arrangements. For this party I knew I wanted to use sunflowers, as they are very summerish. Fortunately they had lots of them at Costco, the place I generally buy my flowers as you can’t beat their prices. I use my large, laundry room sink for flower arranging. I made my flower arrangements the day before the party and stored them overnight in my garage fridge. We keep an empty refrigerator in the garage that is only used when entertaining. It is vital for storing all the additional food, drinks and flowers needed for my parties.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I also went shopping at the new Restoration Hardware Outlet that opened less than a year ago in nearby Ontario Mills. It’s huge and is a treasure trove of wonderful home goods. There I purchased the small gold vases you see in the photo below.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

RH also sold a smaller version of these vases as votive holders which I also purchased for my tablescape. Everything is unbelievably inexpensive at the RH Outlets, so I didn’t break the bank investing in my party tablescape.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

When I entertain I like to place flower arrangements not only on my dining table but around the house as well. A small arrangement always goes in my powder room too.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I’m lucky that I have a forest full of trees for a yard, so I like to cut greenery from the pine trees. I thought the yellow and green colors looked great together and they match my home decor as well!

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

An arrangement went in my family room, another on the buffet table, and another in the foyer adjacent to the bar where I served appetizers.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Setting The Table

Setting the table is one of those things that can always be done in advance. Doing this a day or 2 ahead will cut down dramatically on your To-Do list the day of your dinner party. I scored these fun numbered napkin rings at the RH Outlet.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And for my Summertime Soirée I used the beautiful embroidered napkins I got for Christmas from my DC dwelling son. Find similar ones here.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

For the tablecloth I simply used burlap cloth purchased by the yard on Etsy here. Get a 1% rebate on Etsy from Ebates. My Green Mexican Bubble Glasses were purchased a number of years ago for use at my son’s wedding rehearsal dinner. You can find similar ones here. My china is from Lenox and the pattern is called Eternal. Get it here at Macy’s, where you can also receive a 6% rebate from Ebates.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

My Italian resin flatware comes from Neiman Marcus. Get yours by clicking here.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

It’s beautiful, comes in many different colors, and is affordable at $150 for a 20 piece set (4 place settings). And don’t forget you get a 3% rebate when you shop at Neiman Marcus from Ebates. Not an Ebates member yet? Sign up here.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Set The Buffet Table Too

I usually always do my own cooking when I entertain. Sometimes I’ll hire a helper to serve, bartend and help cleanup. This time I was entertaining a dozen people so I decided I could handle it all myself. That meant I’d need to serve dinner buffet style. So, after consulting my menu, I pulled out all the serving equipment I’d need: chafing dishes, serving bowls & platters, trivets and serving utensils for each menu item. I used my iron votive/placecard holders to indicate to my guests what each menu item was. This was all done a day ahead as well, saving me time on party day.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Provide A Place For Gifts

If you anticipate that people will be bringing gifts, as they did to my husband’s birthday party, think about a place where they can be easily placed as your guests arrive.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The Menu

When I entertain without help I plan a menu that can be made ahead with little more than warming a few things last minute and tossing a salad. I chose a Mexican themed menu for this party. I used my beverage dispenser for self-service Margaritas and we had tubs filled with bottled beer, wine & soft drinks. This way the birthday boy didn’t need to play bartender. Here is what I served to start:

Cocktails In The Bar

Pineapple Coconut Margaritas

Fresh Tortilla Chips

Green & Red Salsa

Guacamole

Assorted Cheeses, Dried Fruit & Nut Platter

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Margarita Glasses $4.95 at Crate & Barrel

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Get Your Own Personalized Cocktail Napkins Here

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Iron Stand From My Own Iron Collection

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Get a similar Chips & Dip basket here.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Dinner On The Terrace

Celia’s Caesar Salad

Chili Relleno Casserole

The World’s Best Chicken Enchiladas

Refried Beans & Mexican Rice

Cherry Pie & Hagen Daz French Vanilla Ice Cream

My Ceasar Salad & Chili Relleno recipes are really delish and I’ll be sharing them soon. Click above for my Chicken Enchiladas recipe, that really is the best in the world. I love the Mexican Rice & Refried Beans that they sell in the refrigerator case at Costco. I can’t make them better, plus it’s so convenient to simply buy them ready-made and warm them up before the party. I get my husband’s favorite, cherry pie, at a local bakery that makes them better than I can. This is a great time-saver too. 

The Entertainment

After everyone had a chance to mingle over cocktails & appetizers in the bar, we all went out front where I had organized a table tennis tournament. It’s amazing how margaritas and a ping pong table can really get the party going.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And it helped to get the appetites for dinner going as well. It was a lovely evening spent with good friends celebrating Brad.

HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

So there you have it: HOW TO HOST A SENSATIONAL SUMMERTIME SOIRÉE

Thanks so much for dropping in! 

Express Yourself!

No blog post is truly complete without a word from you. I’d be so delighted if you’d leave a comment below. 

All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission. This post contains affiliate links which help to make this blog possible. Thank you for your support.

Comments

  • Here I sit trying to figure out two table settings for a photo shoot and what pops up! You are Martha reincarnated!!

  • What a wonderful compliment Cindy. Many thanks and good luck with your table setting and photo shoot!

  • What a great looking party. You make it look so effortless!

  • Thank you Vanessa. As you know, it’s never effortless to entertain but it helps to have a lot of practice. I remember when I was young and inexperienced how stressed I used to get when prepping for a party. Now I know how to accomplish things to avoid the stress which does take a lot of effort. But, I love it!

  • classiccasualhome

    Sounds like a perfectly wonderful evening. Have to pin the enchilada recipe and table settings.

  • Thanks Mary Ann! Yes, my enchilada recipe is a great one, if I do say so myself;) Thanks for pinning!