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Summer Entertaining Essentials

I love having intimate gatherings at my apartment with a handful of friends. My apartment is small at 600sf so we cant fit more than a handful of friends in at one time! I am not a great cook and I honestly just don’t care to spend much time in my tiny kitchen preparing elaborate meals. But a party with cocktails and finger food..I am always game for that and pretty much have a fool proof method for hosting a memorable evening among friends.


┬áMelanie and I styled this table with food made by me and accessories from the shop for a night of cocktails at Tobe’s (the popular blogger of Because It’s Awesome). The night was centered around the drinks courtesy of Smirnoff Vodka, see the full post here. I got to thinking that this would be the perfect opportunity to offer some great entertaining tips.


Cheese is a must at my place for a low key gathering. I have both a wood and stone board at home and it just depends on the rest of the mix and how I want it to all lay out on which one I use. We used the long marble boards at Tobe’s and I put all of the meats on one and all of the cheese on another. To make things feel more upscale I highly recommend buying quality blocks of cheese and letting your guests cut their own pieces. My boyfriend works at a cheese shop and admittedly I have turned into a bit of a cheese snob because I now totally scoff at the regular sliced variety from the grocery store.


Whats a nice cheese board without some fancy knives? I love this Gold Feather set that we have in the shop.


These mercury glass votives have a silver lining that really makes a pretty sparkle in a dimly lit setting. We scattered these on just about every table surface at Tobe’s party. I don’t think you could over-do it with these!


Want to really class things up and also be a good steward of mother earth while you’re at it? Switch from paper napkins or paper towels to cloth napkins. I don’t just use these on special occasions, they are an every day staple at my house.



For an alternate to the predictable flower arrangement try using succulents instead. Smaller sized pots like these hand thrown, raku fired, terra cotta vessels are the perfect size for using as a center piece or accent on any surface. For the party we clustered about 3 on the main table and then scattered the rest on the bar cart, side tables etc.

Although we didn’t get to use the hang forged iron forks at the party I think they would be perfect for a multitude of purposes. Obviously great for grilling, how about roasting hot dogs or marshmallows in a fire pit? I’ve had several customers tell me they would just use them in their kitchen cooking steaks or other meats on the stovetop.

Here are some great finger food ideas that always go over well when I use them: deviled eggs, figs or dates wrapped in prosciutto, cheese tray, meat tray, hummus with veggies & crackers, roasted & seasoned nuts and the ultimate lazy persons go-to, frozen spanakopita from Trader Joe’s.

Lastly but arguably most importantly, music. In my opinion good music with good audio goes a long way for setting the mood. I can’t tell you how many gatherings I’ve gone to where the music has been either non-existent or barely audible. Make a play list, put it on Pandora or Songza, whatever you need to do, but make your guests feel like they are at a bar with good music just not as loud and with only their favorite people.

The second photo is by Jason Hanna Photography, the remainder of photos are my own.