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Entertaining This Summer? Try These 5 Tips for Impressing a Crowd, Without Spending All Day In the Kitchen

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As soon as temperatures rise into official sandal territory, a familiar itch to both paint your toenails and do anything and everything outside—with friends—can strike. And this season, with a year of pent-up social energy fueling our busy calendars, that excitement can quickly spill over into overbooked stress.

First, breathe. Second, relax—because we tapped a professional event planner to break down how to kick back with all your favorite people without spending hours on hostess duty. "Get as much work done as you can ahead of time," says Sydney Herring, owner and lead planner at WILDLY IN LOVE. "If you really want to ensure you can enjoy the party as the hostess, I would hire someone or ask a friend to help out."

Psst: Full permission for that friend to be your new favorite delivery service. Caviar, the easy-to-use platform that delivers cuisine from cool, local restaurants, makes sure your food arrives in style (and makes you look like a genius foodie in the process). From crafting the perfect wholesome menu to creating a cozy-yet-Instagrammable spot in your outdoor space, here's how to wow your friends and fam without breaking a single sweat in the kitchen.

Keep scrolling for 5 expert-approved summer dinner party tips that require zero time in front of your stove.

1. Be thoughtful about the menu

"[Guests appreciate] thoughtfulness in the menu decision making process. For example, you could ask the guests if they have any dietary restrictions," says Herring. "Taking people’s preferences into consideration...goes a long way."

With a localized selection of gourmet restaurants that tap high-quality, wholesome ingredients,  Caviar makes it ridiculously easy to craft a special menu of your BFFs' favorite foods (there's even collections curated by nutritionists, if you really want to go all out).

2. Lean into a theme

Admit it: Themes are always fun. Herring suggests having at least one item that aligns well with the purpose of the night, whether it's a special dish or bev. "If it’s a summer soiree, maybe have a drink that's inspired by summer, like a watermelon cocktail," she says. "Tying in the concept in the details is what truly makes an incredible event."

Photo: Caviar

3.  Mix up your apps + entrees

Another way to take your summer dinner party to the next level? Mix-and-match your appetizers and entrees for a fancier take on a backyard potluck. "I would recommend two to three entree dish options with a variety of sides and starters," Herring adds. "That way people aren’t locked into one option if they don’t like that food or if they have dietary restrictions." 

And Caviar makes this part super fun (and super simple). Choose from your local favorites section for the creatures of habit in the group, scroll through the various cuisine types for those who want to try a little bit of everything, and head to the staff picks for your friends who can never seem to land on a decision.

4. Bring on the florals

Herring's motto? "You don’t need to buy expensive items to make it beautiful." Case in point: By picking up a few blooms (grocery store flowers immediately look cute once artfully jumbled and placed in a vase) or adding a runner of greenery down the center of the table (you can even commission your existing potted plants for the occasion), you can bring the whole mood to life.

5. Fine tune with music + little details

If you haven't caught on, attention to detail is a huge part of nailing any summer dinner party. "A successful event isn’t just about physical items like decor and food, it’s about the entire atmosphere," says Herring. "That would include adding music to set the tone and greeting people with a welcoming smile as they enter through the door. Be intentional with how you bring joy into people’s day, that doesn’t cost a thing!" Now that the food (courtesy of Caviar, of course), vibes, and details are secured, all you have to do is watch all the RSVPs roll in.

Ready to let Caviar cater your next hang-out? Get $7 off your first order of $25+ with promo code 7OFFCAVIAR.*

*Available to new Caviar users only.

Art: Well+Good Creative; Top Photo: Caviar

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