Summertime in California. There’s nothing better—especially when it comes to summer entertaining. Yes, you can host casual beachside barbecues or poolside barbecues…or the ever-popular backyard barbecue—or you could shake things up a little and create a chic summer soirée that will be truly memorable.
The ideas are endless thanks to inspiration-fueled sites like Pinterest sparking ideas like watermelon kegs and outdoor s’mores stations, but that’s only the beginning. In addition to fun eats and drinks, an unforgettable California summer soirée also needs a dose of style. So take a look at five of the newest Summer Entertaining trends to hit the West Coast—and get ready to truly be the host with the most.
1. Small Plate Shindig
Small plates are so en vogue right now with restaurants all over the state serving up appetizer-sized samplings of delectable fare. And you know what? It’s fun! So make it the theme of your summer party with an assortment of finger foods and cocktails. To add to the cool sophistication of the theme, make sure to decorate with some flare. Try colorful chairs and a fun runner to jazz up the table—then add an array of bud vases with a wildflower in each. Guests can mingle as they get their fill of delicious small plate options like Eggplant Parmesan Sliders, mini fish tacos, grilled fruit kabobs and mini cupcakes. For beverages, order some mini cocktail glasses and serve up tiny tastes of summer favorites.
2. Eco-Chic Party
Who would have ever thought that “tree hugging” would ever be hip. But oh is it ever. Hosting an Eco-Green summer party is a great way to show the neighborhood just how chic and fun green can be. Decorate your outdoor space with a fresh garden theme: lay out fresh wildflowers, hang mason-jar soy candles from branches and use recycled tins or flower boxes filled with potted flowers or fragrant fruit for your centerpieces. Next, decide on an eco-friendly vegetarian menu with items like grilled artichokes, tofu lettuce wraps, organic, whole wheat rolls and organic pasta salad. Last, but certainly not least, make sure to have some eco-friendly beverages on hand. Organic beer and wine are great choices or serve a signature party cocktail like the Eco-Mojito.
3. Food Truck Social
Food trucks have become such a grand part of our culture, it’s no surprise that Food Truck Parties are an enduring California trend. Just the fact that your party is being catered by food trucks will get people talking, but to make it comfortable and memorable, make sure your outdoor party space is equipped with all of the necessities. Have a “settings” table laid out with old-school straw containers, recyclable plates and an array of condiments. Make the decor low-key but cool and include plenty of seating, good music and a cooler filled with beverages. This is food truck paradise after all, not the opera. To help you get the party started, here are a few food truck resources across the state: Los Angeles—Roaming Hunger/ San Francisco—Off the Grid/ San Diego—SD Food Trucks/ Sacramento—Roaming Hunger SAC.
4. Beach-Themed Party
It may sound cliché to have a beach-themed party in the summertime, but it’s one trend that will never fade away—not to mention, it’s so much fun to decorate! Collect shells, palm leaves and other beach relics and use them as table-top centerpieces laid out on a bamboo runner. Set up a bar area and hang Mexican Rain Cape Sheets to create a tropical feel and make sure you have plenty of comfortable seating and beach towels laid out for guests to lounge on. For beach eats, make a carved fruit salad, gourmet sliders and Asparagus Mint Slaw. For dessert, beach ball cake pops and s’mores are two options that will definitely get your guests’ mouths watering. And don’t forget to serve up some beach drinks like a delicious mango daiquiri.
5. The Evening Soirée
Evening summer soirées are a must-have in California. No jeans and t-shirts at this shindig—request upscale beach wear on your invitations and make the atmosphere true California-Chic with candles mounted in sand-filled glass jars and LED Paper Battery Lanterns hung from branches. Think of something special for entertainment, like hanging a white sheet and projecting “Beach Blanket Bingo” or Elvis’ “Blue Hawaii” in the background. For nourishment, give your guests small dishes like Spicy Thai-Style Pineapple Wraps, Margarita Chicken Skewers and Tomato-Onion-Cucumber salad to nibble on through the night. And as they’re enjoying their food, pull the bar cart out and serve a few pre-mixed cocktails, from Margaritas to Hurricanes—and also make sure to have some non-alcoholic options, as well.