As summer draws to a close, there’s no better time to plan one last dinner party. Now is the time to take advantage of the warm weather before the fall chill sets in. Follow these tried-and-true tips, tricks and recipes, and all you’ll need to worry about is who to invite.
Send out Invitations
Sure, a text, email or phone call works just fine, but why not make your guests feel extra special? Mail out invitations the old-fashioned way to invite everyone to your last summer soiree. It doesn’t need to be a fancy, custom-designed invitation, but a handwritten note on some chic stationery gives your party a festive feel. Include all of the specifics (date, time, address, attire, etc.) as well as if you want them to bring anything.
Set the Mood
One of the things that separates good hosts from great ones is attention to detail when it comes to the atmosphere. Create an ambiance that embraces the summer vibe, such as the following:
- Top the table with a simple arrangement of in-season blooms like hydrangeas, sunflowers, magnolias and orchids.
- String twinkle lights in your backyard to add some mood lighting to the entertaining area.
- Be proactive against mosquitoes by lighting a few citronella candles and having bug spray on hand for guests.
- Create a playlist on Spotify or find a station on Pandora that suits the mood of your party.
Create the Main Course
Keep the menu simple to avoid being too stressed out on the day of the party. Since you’re sending off summer with this bash, a traditional barbecue theme is a great way to guide the menu.
Main Course: Lentil-Mushroom Burgers
- 1 cup of green lentils (dried)
- 2 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1 1/4 cups onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 2 cups fine bread crumbs (or make you own from vegan bread if unable to find a vegan option)
- 1/2 cup flax seed meal
- 3 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups dino kale, destemmed and finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
Combine the first three ingredients with one minced garlic clove and 1/4 cup of the chopped onion in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 35 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. While you cook the lentils, mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
Sauté the mushrooms, kale and remaining garlic and onion in the coconut oil for nine minutes, then remove it from the heat to cool. Once cooked, allow the lentils to cool a bit before adding the mustard and vinegar. Then, mash this mixture to form a thick paste.
Combine everything together in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Cool this mixture in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before forming into patties. Grill them for three minutes on each side. Serve with sliced avocado and your favorite vegan buns.
Serve Sides & Dessert
- Tomato, peach and basil salad: Scoop up some of the season’s star produce at the farmers market for this simple and refreshing salad.
- Veggie kabobs: A fresh marinade of garlic and herbs helps bring out the best flavors for the vegetables featured.
- Refreshing quinoa salad: Lemon zest, parsley and pine nuts take this tabbouleh-like side dish to the next level.
- Coconut cupcakes: These tasty treats from vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli taste like a tropical getaway, making them the perfect summer send-off.
You’ll love how everything comes together. Get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather. With good food, good wine and good company, you’ll host a dinner party that people will be talking about for months afterward.
Thanks to Allison Wilkinson for this great article! Allison is a WAHM, an explorer, an amateur chef and a fitness buff. You can find her Instagramming photos of her (adorable) son or researching everything from the latest parenting theories to healthy hacks for desserts.