We set the mood on the patio with strings of white lights, lanterns, and a variety of candles. Each element of lighting was unique and mismatched, but combined for a finished look. With a small patio to work with, we maximized the intimate feel with setting up one table for all to sit around. We surrounded it with vintage dining room chairs. Our centerpiece was a simple vase full of purple and yellow lilies, freshly picked from our garden.
With a 7PM start time, we served appetizers, dinner, and summer drinks. Charcuterie trays featuring our favorite cheeses, honey and jelly were displayed on the table for a snack as guests arrived and enjoyed our signature cocktail - Watermelon Basil Spritzers. We pureed fresh watermelon and created watermelon ice cubes to drop into our favorite champagne and white wines for a refreshing and colorful drink. See the recipe at the end of this post.
The feature of our cocktail hour was our popcorn bar. We portioned freshly-popped white popcorn in brown bags, tied with twine and displayed on our favorite West Elm tray. We set up a station with pre-bagged sacks of popcorn tied with twine on a tray. We accessorized the table with the old-time popcorn popper we used to make the popcorn. This was the focal point of the bar. Accompanying the popcorn were a variety of toppings and salts so each guest could make their own original creation. We labeled 3 different mini tin buckets (found in the Target Dollar Section) with add-ins including M&M's, Reese’s Pieces, and Honey Roasted Peanuts. For the salts, we filled mini-shakers (also found at Target) with Ranch, Jalapeno Cheddar, Garlic Parmesan, and White Cheddar seasonings. We labeled these with round, craft paper labels. The best part about the popcorn bar concept is that any topping goes! This is great opportunity to tailor the event to your attendees and their preferences.
Our selected cuisine reflected a traditional summer BBQ with class. We used fresh ingredients from our garden in the variety of salads served.
Homemade Potato Salad
Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad + Ginger Peanut Dressing
Greek Pasta Salad + Feta Cheese
For dessert, we opted for a variety of bundt cakes. These are the newest trend, and we were inspired by the local Nothing Bundt Cakes. Using fresh produce, we baked a Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake and a Fresh Strawberry Bundt Trifle. These were both fresh, low fat dessert options utilizing Greek Yogurt in exchange for sour cream, and applesauce, in place of part of the butter.
As the sun went down, the lighting on the patio twinkled and the temperature dropped. We provided blankets for all guests to stay cozy with the touch of fall in the air. Our blissful event was enjoyed by all, and the best part is that the patio is now set for the rest of the summer.
Have you hosted any outdoor gatherings this summer? Share your recipes and fun party ideas in the comment section!
Watermelon + Basil Spritzers
4 cups watermelon (seeded), cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp sugar lime juice
Puree the watermelon cubes with the sugar and lime juice. Pour mixture into ice cube tray and add 1-2 basil leaves per ice cube. Freeze until solid. Serve with white wine, champagne, or vodka.
Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad + Ginger Peach Dressing
Recipe from AmbitiousKitchen.com
Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake
(Source: Cooking Light)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened (or substitute applesauce)
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) container greek yogurt (or sour cream)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°. To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Set aside. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
Place 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, butter, and rind in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (about 4 minutes total). Beat in vanilla and sour cream. Add flour mixture; beat at medium speed just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over cooled cake.