In my last blog post I talked about the strategies my husband, Barry, and I use to keep things running smoothly and (relatively) stress-free when we host weekend guests at our home in Southampton. I thought I’d follow up by sharing some of the items that help us do that.
While “things” on their own can’t ensure a fun, memorable visit with friends, they can certainly help set a welcoming scene…and they can perform functions that help you worry a little less! I’ve found that having a few reliable, go-to pieces simplifies and streamlines the process of hosting, allowing you to enjoy your guests’ company instead of worrying about how you’ll set the table or the best way to serve snacks.
Here are several stylish items (including hyperlinks, so that you can purchase them if you wish) that have proved invaluable in my summer entertaining. I’ve received compliments on these pieces from my guests, and I hope you’ll find some of them useful as well!
Serve in style with Joseph Joseph dishes. I purchased Joseph Joseph’s Large Double Dish, Double Dish, and Triple Dish Set last year—and I’m so glad I did, because I use these attractive dishes almost every weekend. I love their fresh lime green and white color, because I use lime green and orange as my summer accent colors.
The two Double Dishes in particular are very clever because their rims have slots in which you can dispose of toothpicks, olive pits, shells from pistachios, etc. This keeps your serving area uncluttered and attractive and makes cleanup a breeze. Since the larger bowl in particular is divided into three serving compartments and includes a space for toothpicks, it’s perfect for serving small “spear-able” items like mushrooms, small shrimp, and cheese cubes. I bought the Triple Dish Set in which to serve guacamole, salsa, hummus, and chips.
Before my guests arrive, I fill up these bowls with hors d’oeuvres and set them on the counter. Having snacks ready helps welcome my guests, and I don’t have to stop and serve anything!
Cut down on cooking mess with elevated spatulas. Each spatula in Joseph Joseph’s Elevated Spatula Set includes a clever tool rest on the handle to keep the head of the spatula off the counter when you set it down. Anytime you’re cooking—but especially when you’re also entertaining guests—anything that can cut down on mess and cleanup is very welcome. And as an added bonus, the spatulas’ bright colors are fun.
Talk while you work with a hands-free headset. I absolutely love my Plantronics Cordless Headset—so much that I have one in my New York office and in our Southampton home. At home, I use it to talk on the phone while I’m cooking. (My cell phone clips right onto my waistband.) This is especially helpful when I’m prepping a meal and giving directions to arriving guests at the same time!
Dispense drinks with ease. Everyone who visits loves my Classic Glass Drink Dispenser from Pottery Barn. I bought the smaller 1.9-gallon dispenser with the white stand. The metal spigot works well and doesn’t leak. Each day I’m entertaining, I’ll fill the container with water, ice, and organic lemons and leave it, along with glasses and napkins, on my counter for my guests’ use. That way, my friends can serve themselves whenever they’re thirsty. Best of all, this drink dispenser is simply gorgeous—a classy and stylish piece of décor, rather than “just” a functional serving piece.
Sip beverages without worrying about breakage. Who says acrylic drinkware can’t look attractive and sophisticated? I love to use Crate & Barrel’s Swirl Acrylic Double Old-Fashioned Glasses and Pop Yellow Drink Glasses when serving meals outdoors, or when simply sipping something refreshing by the pool. And if the situation calls for a toast, I bring out Sur La Table’s Outdoor Champagne Flutes and Hammered-Acrylic Wine Glasses. All of these glasses are sturdy and elegant!
Set a cheerful table. When I’m entertaining in the summer, we eat a lot of meals out on the patio. I set the table with CB2’s Basketweave Placemats in either hot orange or chartreuse, and alternate CB2’s Uno Linen Napkins in orange and chartreuse (they’re huge squares, and the material is high quality that will stand up to many washes). I love the citrusy color combination—it just screams “summertime” to me. Finally, I finish off the place settings with bright white Lunea Melamine plates, dishes, bowls, platters, and/or serving trays—whatever the meals call for.
All of these items are affordable, durable, high quality, and functional. They’ve made it easier for me as a hostess to entertain my guests, and they’ve added color and style to my home. If you choose to purchase any of them, I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as Barry and I have!