I love to entertain. But let’s be honest, entertaining can be a lot of work. It can be just as expensive as it is time consuming, regardless of the size of the affair. That’s why it’s always nice to find ways to have stress-free summer parties without breaking the bank. To help, I’ve consulted with some of Santa Barbara’s coolest ladies (who also happen to be small business owners) for their tips on throwing the best summer parties. In fact, we threw a party to test everything out, so that we could help YOU throw a summer get-together with friends without feeling overwhelmed.
7 Tips for Stress-Free Summer Parties
1. Repurpose household objects.
No need to spend money on items for entertaining when you can use what you already have in a new way. Use a fun blanket as a table cloth or put bar essentials in different cups and vases. Or, take a tip from Dalla Vita, the cool outdoor lifestyle brand founded by Cali Dunn and her brother. Cali suggests finding ways to bring natural elements to the table. Use potted plants or succulents that you already have for tabletop decor rather than splurging on flowers. Unexpected decor is always fun.
2. Expand your guest list.
It’s easy to invite guests you know well, but being thoughtful about the guest list can change the vibe and create new connections! The savvy business ladies of Sprout Concepts, Heather Greene and Jenny Roberts, suggest asking guests to bring a friend to help mix things up—it’s a great opportunity to expand your network while inspiring new conversations. New people bring new perspectives, and interesting dinner conversation always makes for a successful party!
3. Ask guests to contribute.
Think outside of the standard potluck for your summer parties. Ask friends to contribute to your party in fun, creative ways, suggests party planner extraordinaire Jaime Kotsechko, who owns Wild Heart Events. Throwing a party is way easier when you get a little help, so delegate a friend who loves music to put together a playlist or have another person bring herbs from her garden for the food or bar. It will not only save you time and money, but will create a more inclusive experience!
4. Keep the menu simple (and seasonal).
Private chef, Denisse Salinas, who owns Le Petit Chef Santa Barbara, knows a thing or two about cooking for a crowd. She encourages using seasonal, local ingredients from the farmers’ market to create a menu of fresh salads and crostini, rather than spending too much time and money cooking an elaborate meal using hard-to-find ingredients. It’s a great tip, because throwing a party is way less stressful when you focus on keeping things simple in the kitchen!
5. Make it personal.
Adding personal touches to acknowledge your guests will not only enhance your party, but leave a lasting impression. The uber creative Chelsea Aiello, who makes handmade bun pins for CA Makes, loves to create keepsake place cards or personalized favors for guests to take home. Personalizing is a great way to make it special, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be elaborate or expensive.
6. Bring on the bubbles.
Sparkling wine not only pairs well with a wide variety of foods (cheese, spicy food, sweets…) but let’s be honest, bubbly makes any environment more festive! Laura Booras, GM of Riverbench Winery, loves to create a signature cocktail for parties using sparkling wine. Find a recipe for sparkling sangria or add a touch of liqueur to add color and flavor to the wine. Some of my favorites include fruit and flower-based liqueurs, like creme de cassis or a splash of elderflower liqueur, to add a touch of sweetness and color.
7. Stay comfortable.
There’s nothing worse than throwing a party and not feeling comfortable in your clothes. You’ll be more at ease if your outfit is easy and comfy. Alice Brophy, who styles lovey ladies for a living, recommends pairing a super simple outfit with one signature pop — either a bright lipstick or statement cuff — for effortless chic.
There you have it. A few top tips from some of Santa Barbara’s most inspiring lady bosses on how to entertain effortlessly this summer. Now you all have no excuses… there’s still time to throw your best summer parties yet, and without all the hassle and stress!