29 January 2024

Summer entertaining hits different – the days are longer, the weather is perfect for eating outdoors (or eating indoors and herding the kids out) and everyone just seems more relaxed, making for fantastic get togethers that are warm enough to keep you smiling all year long.

My own home is small, so I love entertaining outside – whether it’s a regular or impromptu catchup with family (or friends that might as well be family) or something more special.  Key to success here are the basics – somewhere to sit and somewhere to eat – but that doesn’t have to mean expensive, beautiful picnics have made a resurgence and are a perfect option if you haven’t found the perfect outdoor set yet.  If you do have a table, start by giving everything a good clean down before dressing it up with placemats and set it as you would your dining table to create a sense of occasion.  Protect your guests from the sun with umbrellas and as the sun goes down, add citronella candles to keep the mozzies away while looking gorgeous too.

Whether you have kids coming or its adults only, outdoor games will be a hit, providing a chance to stretch your legs, move into different conversations and enjoy a bit of healthy rivalry.  I’m always surprised at how much my adult guests love a friendly game or two – for me, it takes me back to simpler days.

The best summer food is simple food.  Since buying my Weber BBQ I’ve been eating out at home more and more and this summer will be adding a pizza stone to my growing collection of tools and gadgets.  The key to a successful BBQ is planning!  Rather than overloading your BBQ with everything all at once, consider different cooking times and temperatures, using your oven to keep things warm if needed.  Surround your BBQ options with freshness in the form of salads and other light dishes.  My tip for making these just a little bit more special for your guests?  Add pomegranate seeds, strawberries, nectarine or even edible flowers for fresh, sweet summer flavours.

Reserve some space in the fridge for drinks, or better still, fill a large bin with ice and nestle drinks in to stay chilled.  I love the retro-looking metal troughs, but until I find the perfect one, I’m making use of a large square planter – with the added bonus of the drainage hole leaving me one less job to do at the end of the night.  Don’t forget to spoil those who aren’t hitting the hard stuff too – in the last few years, both the variety and quality of non-alcoholic options has exploded with options for everyone.  Drinking or not, everyone will appreciate large jugs of chilled water, dressed up with ice, lemons, limes and rosemary or mint – so refreshing!

If you’re looking to entertain at your place this summer, check out a few of my favourite finds in-store now at Northlands.

1. Drinkware Farmers, 2. BBQ Wondertool Acquisitions, 3. Citronella candle The Warehouse, 4. BBQ The Warehouse, 5. Serving bowl and salad servers Bed Bath n' Table.

However you entertain, it’s the people that make the occasion.  So remember to create an event that you can enjoy too – and don’t forget to pick up a phone (for just a moment) or camera and capture the joy.  Bon appetit!