Graduation is imminent, summer is here and that means… yup, you guessed it… Summer parties!

I am planning to have a few summer pool parties-socially distanced of course-with a few of my friends, family, and neighbors. My head is already spinning with which weekends we are going to have “who” over and although seeing people in person is legit amazing, for me, it is also all about the food.

What are your plans? Have you thought about having a few friends over, perhaps a few girlfriends with punch on the porch, or maybe you are thinking that you will enjoy some BBQ by the bistro.

Whatever you are thinking – do it. The world is opening up, the rules of engagement are relaxing and we can see actual people again!

If you are anything like me and you want to entertain with food, but have no interest in cooking while your friends are chatting amongst themselves while you are cooking feverishly to create the perfect ambiance and the ideal meal, then you have popped in at the perfect time.

I am a planner. I mean, I am fine to have people pop over spontaneously, but I LOVE to plan the Who, What and When. Who is coming, What are we eating and When is this fabulousness happening.

Step 1: Who

Close your eyes and visualize your backyard. Who is with you? Are your 3 friends from high school there? Or perhaps you see the neighbors on either side of your house with their kids. Maybe you see 3 moms that you used to dance on the bar tops with at Blue Mountain. Ok, that is a story for another day… Who do you see being at your house as this will dictate the vibe of what you are serving.

If I am inviting my girls from high school, I am having something that is delish non-alcoholic as they will be driving in from out of town and I will be thinking about keto options as one friend follows this plan. Now, if I am thinking of having the moms that I was dancing on the bar tops with at Blue Mountain and their families, I am having beer, wine, Coke and Scotch. In fact, I may think about a Scotch tasting night. And I will ensure that I have vegetarian and gluten free options as there are a couple of folk that require this diet.

The who is important. It sets the tone and gets you thinking.

Step 2: What

Alright, now that you know who is coming, how many, and thoughts about their diets, what are you doing? Is the crowd into 80’s House or can you play some spa-like music for background music? Are you going to turn your pool into a giant hot tub, float around, drink and chat? Perhaps you will be just sitting on the front porch and casually catching up.

Think about the tone of your gathering. You don’t need to go into a huge amount of detail here, but if you have a plan you can vibe off the intent of the gathering.

Step 3: When

Pick a freaking day! Can your girls only get away from their kids at lunch on a Saturday? Maybe your gang can come over with the family in the evening on the weekends… map out the date and the time. Yes, let them know a time when they can start to arrive. Chances are, your friends will not arrive on the nose when you say, but at least you will be ready.

Step 4: Food

Alright. You know who is coming-allergies, diets, restrictions, how many people. You know the vibe of your gathering and lastly, you have a date and a time.

Now it is time to pull it all together!

Start off with drinks. Think both alcoholic and non alcoholic options. As an idea, think about this amazing Peach Prosecco

Next, think about finger foods or appetizers. Maybe some flavored Pecans, or some asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. Create a small fruit and veggie tray with what is in season. Nothing big or flashy, but something that people can snack on as they chat and catch up with you. And you do not have to lift a finger.

When you are thinking of feeding people, you want to be comfortable with what you are serving. Maybe you want to do a smattering of appies, but I like to follow a particular rule for a dinner party: 1 protein, 2-3 veggies, a salad, a starch and bread/rolls.

Need a few ideas? Alright, check these out:

Korean Short Ribs with Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Green Beans Almondine, Broccoli in Lemon Sauce, and for dessert, have Whisky Maple Apple Crisp. Make a garden salad with lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes, and pick up some rolls from the grocery store. And you are done.

Once you have your food mapped out, create your grocery list. Then, sit back and think about timing of when you are going to prep and cook. Pick recipes that you are familiar with and that are quick and easy.

For those of you reading this, I am going to make you a deal: If you are having a get-together in the summer of 2021 and you have no idea what to make, drop me an email and I will help you out. We can walk through the “who, what, where, food” scenario and will build out a plan for you. We will create a grocery list and a plan as to when you will be making everything so you can enjoy your friends rather than being stuck cooking.

The summer is yours for the taking. Make the most of it and let your freakin’ cape flow behind you.

Stay sassy friends.