My friend Tracie loves to host parties, and has probably hosted more parties than anyone I know. Ever since she bought her first Martha Stewart book in 1987, she has taken a cue from the Queen herself, and made sure that every gathering is perfect. Not because she wants the accolades, but so her guests would always be treated to a perfectly stress free event.
Tracie called me and asked if I would oversee the food and decorating for a baby shower she was throwing at her home on the beach. Her friend Jennifer was due with twins, so Tracie wanted to give her an extra-relaxing, special day.
I wanted to share with you some of the ideas that helped bring this fun luncheon together.
Here’s a helpful do-ahead, time-saving tip: Whether you’re serving champagne, a wine spritzer, sparkling cider, or club soda, it’s a good idea to line up all of the glassware a half hour before the party begins, and fill each with a few fresh chilled berries. As each guest arrives, you can fill their glass with their chosen beverage.
Flowers always make a beautiful addition to any gathering. You don’t need a lot, and if you want to cut costs while still making a beautiful impact, use fewer stems, shorter vases, and only 1-2 colors. Adding multiples of other objects ties the theme together. In this case, I used glass stones, seashells, and sea stars.
Asparagus wrapped prosciutto is one of the easiest appetizers to make, and it really has a lot of flavor. It’s something you can assemble ahead of time, and refrigerate. About 30 minutes before the party, set the pan of asparagus on a counter to take the chill off, and then pop into the broiler for a couple of minutes. After it’s out, squeeze a bit of lemon over them and serve.
Setting out a buffet of various fruit, vegetables, breads, and cheeses is always a good idea. An assortment of muffins, croissants and rolls from the bakery look pretty when presented in baskets with cloth napkins.
We also made freshly baked quiches, and gave the guests their choice of bacon or vegetarian.
Tracie’s daughter Emily made her famous lemonade, garnished with lemon slices, floating in a beautiful pitcher. Adding rosemary or lavender is a great way to slightly infuse a second flavor. Another refreshing idea is to use cucumber slices with sprigs of basil.
The day before the luncheon, cut a lot of fresh mozzarella into small cubes, between ½” and ¾” each, and place in a bowl. Finely mince fresh herbs, such as Italian parsley or chives, and sprinkle over mozzarella. Optional; sprinkle cracked black pepper over mozzarella. Roll cubes around until herbs & optional pepper are sticking well, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator, overnight. To assemble: Cut just the tops off of cherry tomatoes, and hollow out. Stuff each tomato with a cube of mozzarella.
Stacking plates on tiered holders is especially helpful when you have a lot of different foods to put out together. I put out fresh fruit, alongside the sweets for those guests who wanted a lighter ending to their meal. For those who wanted more sugar, Emily made and decorated special cupcakes, each topped with a blueberry. She also made brownies in cupcake liners, and topped each with whipped cream and a raspberry.
All in all, it was a fun day, and all of the luncheon guests had a relaxing afternoon.
Hope my ideas spark some creativity for your next get together!