4 Ways to Impress Your Guests NEXT WEEKEND

June 11, 2018

 

Hello Monday!


Last week, K. Renee had a full house for our 4th School of Styling workshop which was focused on summer entertaining.      



And from that event, I wanted to share with you 4 super simple ideas that  you can immediately use to impress your guests next weekend (or any one of the weekends ahead.)  Sometimes the best gatherings are the spontaneous ones that pop out of nowhere, and it's essential to have a few impressive tricks up your sleeve that literally take no time at all to pull together.   


 Summer Sangria

One of the easiest yet festive drinks to pull together for large groups of people is a refreshing summer sangria.    I found this recipe for a White Strawberry-Lemon Sangria (you can download by clicking here) that was a hit at our workshop and I will definitely make again.   

This five-ingredient sangria is light, refreshing and not-too-sweet.  The proportions I have above are for making a batch that will serve 25.   After cutting and slicing the fruit, you literally throw it all in a pitcher or jar for a few hours.

 

One of the best purchases I’ve made in the last couple of years is an oversized (256 ounces) glass jar with a lid.     I frequently make sangria when entertaining year round usually white in the warm months and red in the winter.  



Create a Charcuterie Board

These artistic displays of meats, cheeses, nuts, and fruits are gorgeously simple to make, and we all love to snack on them!

 

 

While some of us (not me) have the knack for picking out just the right tasty ingredients to literally throw down on a beautiful piece of serving wood, the rest of us can be quite perplexed by just what to get and how much.

Which is why when I create one of these, I go straight to the Hy-Vee meat and cheese department and tell them I want to create a board and ask for their help in picking out exactly what I need.  They will even slice meats and cube cheese for you!     

When assembling your board, start with the most important part - your meats and cheeses.  Don’t worry about laying them down perfectly, instead create little piles which makes the board more welcoming for your guests to start immediately snacking.     



Once you have a variety of meats and cheeses piled around your board, start layering in random fruits (grapes, apricots, kiwi, dragon fruit), nuts and some greenery for color.   Your goal is to make your board visually appealing and sweet and savory.  





When in a pinch for time and creativity, call a caterer.    I know that sounds intimidating and expensive sometimes, but I would make a safe bet that I spend less when I call places like Table 128 or Catering by Cyd for a group of 10-15 (or more) than when I decide to do it all myself.     I don’t have the experiences and discipline to buy precise amounts of ingredients and tend to get twice as much as I really need.   



For our event last Thursday, Catering by Cyd created some easy summer treats for our guests!   She always plates them beautifully and drops them off right before guests arrive.   Super simple, super impressive.


 

 

Create a floral arrangement from your garden

At our Schools of Styling event, Jen O’Neal from PepperHarrow Farms presented a workshop about how to create floral arrangements from locally grown blooms and greens.   She brought a variety of the fresh flowers and foliage that grow on her 20-acre farm in Winterset, Iowa.    Each person had a selection of Ranunculus, Roses, Salvia, Tulips, Penny Cress, Mint, Oregano and native grasses.  

 
She reminded us that we all have many of these already growing in our own yards or in nearby fields and ravines.


Creating whimsical floral arrangements from locally grown flowers are much like a charcuterie board...the beauty comes from the imperfection and casual nature of your creation.

One of the tricks I learned from Jen was the importance of creating a support structure within your vase to help you create a flowy, whimsical arrangement.   Jen used this little chicken wire trick which I thought was just brilliant.



I loved watching all of our guests create their own perfect bouquet.   Each person left with a personal creation - there were no right or wrongs - just different.   






And if you don't have the patience or the yard to cut flowers and foliage from your own garden,  these beautiful, wild and wonderful summer flowers can also be purchased in bundles every Saturday between May and October at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market where PepperHarrow Farms has a booth.    


Well, I’m inspired to do a little easy but impressive summer entertaining.   How about you?


Have a wonderful week,


Julie