Outdoor “Green” Dinner Party
Featured in At Home TN magazine's July Edition
(Excerpt from the July article)-www.athometn.com
All images courtesy of Summer Harris Hancock
This month I had the pleasure of hosting several friends for an evening on our patio.
The weather was absolutely wonderful, and that’s no small feat here in Nashville in June! I wanted to throw a party on my patio and eat out under the summer sky, eventually getting to watch the fireflies and stars, after the sun set.
I wanted to make this party as “green-friendly” as possible, and encourage At Home TN readers to entertain this way as well! Some simple steps are all that’s needed to turn your next party into an eco-friendly one.
For the décor for this party, I knew I wanted to keep it minimal for it to be green friendly. I gathered roses from my friend Julie’s yard, and used an assortment of bud vases I have and scattered those around my tables. Julie’s roses come in a variety of colors, so I grouped the roses in similar shades and used those in clusters on the tables. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend with a fabulous garden, no fear! You can easily go to your local farmer’s market and pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers to use for your party. Try to stay local to keep the party green.
I also wanted to have a ton of candlelight. Candles help add visual depth to a party and at nighttime, they really help create an amazing ambience. I have an assortment of glass cylindrical vases that I use for events and weddings. Over the years, I have amassed a collection that I house in my basement. I have short vases, tall and deep vases, square vases, glass bowls, and the list could go on and on. Whenever I have a party, I go through what I have on hand and develop my décor around those items. For this party, I used 2 extra large vases and floated a trio of candles in each of these. They lined the entrance to my back patio. In addition, across my stonewall, I placed several large cylindrical vases with large white pillar candles in them. In between these candles, I added a ton of small votives with tea lights. On the tables, I added small cylindrical vases with floating candles, along with small votives.
I also placed tiki torches around the perimeter of my patio, which not only added some amazing glow but also helped detract the mosquitoes. Anytime you entertain outdoors in the spring or summer make sure to have your yard sprayed for bugs and utilize tiki torches that have been filled with a citronella-based oil. The last thing you want is for your guests to be bothered by mosquitoes and bugs all night! You want them to enjoy the party and focus on the food (not swatting bugs).
Once the candles and flowers were on the table, I added the linens and place settings. I used white ceramic plates for the table, along with chocolate brown and tan linen napkins. In addition, at each place setting, I had a menu card with the evening’s meal on it.
For dinner, I served:
Warm goat cheese and apple salad with Dijon vinaigrette
Wine and garlic marinated Pork Tenderloin
Josh's signature potato and onions
(For complete recipes, check out At Home TN magazine)
For dessert, I love mini-anything! I made homemade miniature peach pies, cherry pies and summertime strawberry pies. I also used wooden forks which I embellished with the words "PIE" and "YUM" on them. I also embellished wooden spoons with the words "SWEET" on them for the Purity Dairy mini ice-cream cups. (To find out DIY instructions, check out the July edition of At Home TN magazine).
Here are some pictures of my dessert table:
For a fun summertime drink, I served Martha Stewart's Rum Punch. I also used green and white striped straws and made drink flags that said "Drink Me." The rum punch was huge party hit!
Tips to throw a green party:
- Use seed-packets as place settings. They make a cute addition to your table, and guests will have a fun favor to take home.
- Ask your guests to take home the floral centerpieces and enjoy them in their own house.
- Use organic fruits and vegetables from local Farmer’s markets
- To create a visual impact but not have a huge environmental impact, use candles, paper lanterns, tiki torches and natural light
- Include seasonal foods in the menu to highlight locally-grown products
- Buy organic meat from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Here in Nashville, there are multiple CSAs from which to choose. To find one in your area, go http://www.localharvest.org
- Utilize items you already have for the décor-for example, I used vases from other events, or you can borrow from friends and keep the décor to a minimum.
- Utilize natural elements in your décor, such as burlap, wood, candlelight, etc.
- Use floral clippings from your friends and neighbors. With a little research, you may find out that your good friend has some amazing hydrangea bushes that need clipping or another friend might have a fabulous rose garden she’s willing to share.
Happy Green Entertaining!