Typically by this time of year, I have been on the lake a few times with a good solid tan and am ready for another hot weekend on the water, but this week I am just praying that it is a hot 4th of July weekend! Currently the weather is calling for rain and more rain, but I am going to dream of sunshine and burgers that I hope will fill the upcoming weekend!
Neither Carly and I are doing a big party this year, but this weekend is often filled with family, friends and lots of food. I know that creating a menu can be the most painful part of planning a party. So, I have gathered a few tips & tricks that may make that easier as well as a menu of those quintessential 4th of July foods that you can't go wrong with! Below are a few of my favorites that are perfect for the hot weekend, a large group of people and can ideally be prepared ahead of time!
Tips & Tricks
- Try to make as much a head of time as possible. I like to make salads ahead of time about a day with the dressing on the side. This takes out all the prep work, so the last thing you have to do is just toss the salad with dressing!
- Make sure to have a variety of foods with and without meat. This isn't really that tricky, just remember don't add chicken stock to anything that you are intending to be vegetarian.
- Make labels! This doesn't usually take too much time, but it also lets everyone know what is on the table without, having to explain each dish to everyone.
- Layout all the dishes with the labels to make sure that you have all your dishes ready to go and you have enough table room.
- Include a variety of drinks, but not too many. I prefer to stick to water, lemonade, 2 types of beer and maybe a mixed drink such as sangria. You can check out an amazing & easy sangria recipe here.
- When you set up your space, try to set the drinks up in a different location so that there isn't congestion at the drink/food station.
- Keep everything as simple as possible! I have to tell myself this all the time... for some reason once I get started everything seems to escalate, so set up a budget before hand so you have a rough idea of how much you are planning to spend. You don't need to break the bank to have a wonderful party!
- If someone offers to help, give them something that you really need help with, but be specific. If you want to make sure your menu all works together make a few suggestions such as salad, fruit or drinks that you know will work with what you are planning.
- I personally haven't ever made a Naked Cake, but they seem to becoming quite popular. By the end of a hot summer day, sometimes a little less icing/sugar is just what you need. Plus, a cake topped with berries & sparklers is perfect for a 4th of July celebration!
- Watermelon Wedges on a Stick are not exactly as easy as they look, but you can do them a couple days ahead of time and they are super easy to eat! I actually made these for a summer pop-up party in June and with a little bit of finagling Tyler and I figured out an easy wedge cutting & stabbing system.
- Burgers with all the right toppings off the grill are so delicious. This blog tells you how to make the perfect ones, and surprisingly enough you don't need that many ingredients.
- I have never been a huge potato or macaroni salad fan, but this new potato salad with sugar snap peas is very refreshing and light. In fact, I actually went back for seconds for both the potato salad and corn bean salad on Saturday at a birthday party.
- Corn on the cob is a must in the summer, and honestly I could eat it with just butter, but this recipe has a Chipotle lime seasoning that adds just a bit more detail to the everyday.
- Tortellini Kabobs are an easy, inexpensive vegetarian appetizer. Just remember that you shouldn't add the dressing until a few minutes before everyone arrives. You don't want the pasta to get soggy and fall off the stick!
- This black bean corn salad is amazing, and although I just had it for the first time this past weekend I am planning to put it on my summer dinner rotation. It has all the ingredients from summer including my favorite thing - avocado!
- No summer party is complete with out the baked beans. I personally think you can't have baked beans without bacon, but if you don't have a lot of vegetarian options you might want to make two versions - with and without bacon.
- Drinks are an important part to any party! Infused water and lemonade are both super refreshing during hot summer months. I like to put water and lemonade in containers with cups on the side rather than bottles. Not only is this WAY cheaper, but it also is really pretty and an easy refill.
- S'more cookies are some of the best cookies ever! They include all the essential ingredients - chocolate, cookie dough, marshmallows and graham crackers. Don't make these too early in the week because the cracker becomes a bit soggy, but you can make these a couple days ahead of time if you have enough will power not to eat them all.
- One of my favorite things during the summer is when the weather is just right where you are a little bit sticky at night and you could use a cool refreshment. These berry popsicles really are the perfect thing for that moment... Don't offer these up right away, but wait a few hours when everyone is lost in the moment!
I hope everyone has a fabulous 3 day weekend, filled with all your favorite summer foods! What are some of the must-haves at your parties?