August kicks off a busy season of back-to-school shopping, crazy schedules and getting back to routines. Some families are planning last minute vacations while others have already switched gears and purchased colored pencils and notebook paper. Here in Florida, school bells are ringing but the weather still screams ‘summer’ to the tune of 100 degree afternoons. With the stress of the new school year ahead and the closing of vacation season, we all need a little break from the grind.
One of our favorite ways to unwind is to host a patio party. We keep ours pretty small, usually just inviting my husband’s parents over. We chill a few bottles of wine, typically light, crisp whites or rose since the heat is still raging. We prepare a cheese and meat board and make our way to the deck for some fresh air and relaxation.
Since building our new patio almost two years ago, we’ve somewhat perfected these backyard gatherings. In this post I’ll share a few tips for hosting the perfect end-of-summer patio party. Let the corks pop!
- Build the perfect cheese board. The staples for all of our charcuterie boards are cheeses, meats, crackers, olives, and some type of sweet spread. For the cheeses, we like to mix it up and have a few ranging from smooth and creamy to sharp and smoky. We love Havarti for our smooth option, aged cheddars and Goudas for our sharper options, and crumbled blue cheese for the bold flavor. For meats, there are lots of options in the deli section at grocery stores. We love thin sliced hard salami, prosciutto and summer sausage. For crackers, we prefer wheat, but there are so many options, you can simply choose your favorites. For the olives, I usually put Kalamata olives straight from the jar into a small bowl, but I’ve also made marinated olives using an assortment of green, black and Greek olives along with oil and herbs. If you plan ahead, this will go over hugely with olive lovers. My husband isn’t the olive connoisseur I am, but even he appreciates the flavors in marinated olives. Finally, we love to add a sweet spread to the mix. You can choose things like raw honey, blackberry jams or fresh preserves. One of my favorites is a jar of fig preserves I found in the deli section at Publix. These sweet spreads pair perfectly with blue cheese and salty meats like salami and prosciutto. It adds a flavor element that is so satisfying. I like to assemble these items on a large wooden chopping board.
- Choose your beverages. We tend to drink wine with our cheese boards because the light, crisp summer wines pair so well with charcuterie. We also just love wine. But you can also offer some light beers for beer drinkers. My husband loves Kona Big Wave, and Corona with lime is always a great summer sip as well. I purchased a mini beverage dispenser from Dollar Tree and I fill it with ice water and set it out on the patio table so that we stay hydrated. I stack the small throw-away drink cups, like the kind you might use for wine at parties, on top of the dispenser. I also purchased a $5 pineapple carafe from Target that I use for water sometimes. It’s super cute and just dresses up the table. However, it is glass, so the plastic Dollar Tree dispenser is the safer patio option. This leads me to my next tip: invest in plastic drink ware. I purchased bright pink and teal plastic wine glasses at Dollar Tree and they have been perfect for our patio days. Nothing kills summer vibes like the sound of glass shattering (especially if you have kids).
- Invest in food tents. Enjoying wine and snacks outside is one of the best summer activities. But swarming flies and gnats can become so annoying, its almost not even worth it. That’s why I bought some cute pineapple themed food tents from my online Avon store. They pop right up and sit over the cheese board and drinks to keep unwanted visitors off the goods. They’re lightweight and very easy to just lift up when you need a bite or sip.
- Cue the music. Nothing tops off patio sittin’ quite like some soft music playing in the background. We bring our Alexa out with us and set it on a side table nearby. Everyone takes turns calling out songs to play. You can also just connect your phone to a Bluetooth speaker to play your Pandora stations or iTunes. You can switch up the music to fit the mood of the day. For date days at home, I love to play Norah Jones. For evening gatherings with our friends, we usually play a lot of 90s tunes that bring the energy level up. When we sit with my in laws we play a lot of oldies and Motown. Just play whatever floats your bubbles!
- Invest in a tower fan. If you live in a steamy climate like Florida, the heat tends to last well into fall. We have a tower fan we place near our patio table to run while we sit outside. It’s amazing the difference that breeze makes. An added bonus is that it helps to keep those flies and gnats we talked about at bay.
While I wrote this post with summer in mind, I should add that we enjoy patio parties all year round. When the weather turns cold, we switch out the white wines for the spicy reds and the tower fan for our fire pit. I’ve even made a spiked hot chocolate for our cold weather gatherings. During winter, festive cheeses with cranberries and pecans are great additions to your charcuterie board. While we wait for the holiday season to arrive, we’ll keep popping our bubbly whites and roses and soaking up every bit of sun we can. August may mark a time for new beginnings and goals, but we are never too busy for good food, good wine and good friends and family. And sunshine. 😉
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