A good party has a vibe and an energy in the air. It’s not something to take for granted, rather, something to cultivate. There is nothing better than hosting some people you love and feeling fully content in the moment. Whether it’s with family or friends, indoors or outdoors, there are some party foods and hosting habits I like to nail down to cultivate the vibe.
Rule #1: Most people, especially when they just arrive, are first drawn to the easy to snack on foods. Those foods on the table that you can take and eat (no plate or fork required) are usually grabbed first. Present them in small ceramic bowls or piled up on a plate to add depth and dimension to your table.
Regardless of who your guests are, and whether it’s a family and kid party, parents night out, holiday celebration, or brunch, there’s always a common theme. The mingling moments and when your company is arriving. These foods are for those times. If you’re serving a meal, it will no doubt be delicious, but this touch of appetizers on the table adds a lot, especially for when your guests first arrive.
If you’re an annual subscriber, search “Snack” or “Party Food” on prepandrally.com for inspo, or search my favorites below.
- Sweet potato stackers
- Peach Caprese Skewers
- Loaded cheese board
- Old bay spiced chickpeas
- Morroccan spiced nuts
- Pop rock Pretzel bark
- Whole wheat blueberry scones
- Furikake buttered popcorn
- Pumpkin sage corn muffins
- The best chocolate chip cookies
- Pizza bar. My favorite outdoor pizza oven makes a party in it of itself
Rule #2: Tablescape: And that doesn’t mean you need to bring out your fancy china and gold cutlery. Although you obviously can if you want to be extra, that’s a vibe too. A few additions can uplift your entire table. Knowing how to position all the pieces on your table and adding easy slight touches adds a load of dimension and is so visually pleasing.
Food and Lifestyle stylist Adina Schlass of the @the_chefs_wife on IG shares her thoughts and tips here on effortlessly sprucing up your table.
On cultivating a vibe~
Unless it’s a Friday night, a formal occasion, or a holiday, I always try to go for a laid back relaxed vibe. I love when guests feel comfortable and at ease, and the way to do that is by making sure the table and aesthetic reflects that.
Things shouldn’t be overly thought out. For summer barbecues, I love to create a buffet so people can help themselves, and dig in when they’re ready. I don’t set the entire table, I leave a stack of plates at the buffet for self service, and just add some green plants and candles on the table to dress it up a bit.
On simple uplifting tips~
For a relaxed outdoor vibe, you can’t go wrong with some greens, eucalyptus or fresh herb plants, and some candles.
For something more formal, dress your table with pretty florals, candles and real napkins. Real napkins always feel more chic. Instead of using a napkin holder, find some pretty matching ribbon, maybe it’s a soft peach colour, or a grey, or maybe something that matches your florals – and loosely tie a knot around the napkin, and let the ribbon drape down. It adds a beautiful softness without feeling over the top.
On utilizing greenery~
Whilst I love flowers, and of course they play a major role in many of my more formal tablescapes, I do believe it isn’t the be all and end all of table scraping. I love the idea of taking some earthen jugs and simple greenery and creating something unique with a lot of character.
Flowers are important but I would say greenery and candles play a bigger role for more informal settings.
On food centerpieces~
I love setting a Sunday brunch with big French baguettes, and beautiful sourdough breads, lots of fresh herbs and lemons, with big wooden boards filled with lox and veggies. It feels very organic and farm to table, and I love the freshness they exude.
You can find more of Adina’s brilliant work plus recipe ideas, hacks, and chic lifestyle choices @the_chefs_wife on IG
Rule #4: Have a good beverage. Wine, mimosas, hard seltzer, smoothies, or juices, have something good on the table to pour. These also add some nice color to your table!
Try my favorite Cider Spiced Sangria recipe on prepandrally.com
Rule #5: Know the program and then chill out. Even for a gathering that is not structured, plan to relax. Do all your prep beforehand so you’re not stressed in the moment, and then sit back and let it all run smoothly. Enjoy the moment.
I love hosting, and if I can hit all the party foods and hosting habits marks mentioned above, I’m a happy hoster.