Keep warm-weather gatherings easy with our collection of creative, hassle-free party ideas.
Don't toss that gift wrap in the trash. Instead, use it to welcome guests to your home. Cut decorative wrap into triangles, stick them to seam binding, and display for your summer shindig.
Get fired up for a leaner, greener grilling season with this healthy menu.
Grilled Stone Fruit
Grouped together on a tray and filled with leaves and flowers, weathered bottles and jars make an easy, eco-chic table dressing. Collect your own bottles of various shapes (mustard jars, perfume bottles, and jelly jars all work well) or salvage some for just pennies at thrift stores. Randomly fill some of the containers with leaves and flowers and place them on a serving tray or platter, packing the jars tightly together.
Pack up these quick dishes to take to your outdoor gathering at the beach, the lake, or wherever you're heading this summer.
Raspberry Rosehip Iced Tea
Summer is when most fruits and vegetables are at their peak, so there's no need to blanket them in sauces and marinades. Whole grains and vegetables are healthy choices for side dishes, and they're easy to prepare alongside grilled entrees.
Find new purpose for mismatched dinnerware sets in the form of a tiered serving tray for hors d'oeuvres or desserts.
Gather three plates and two cups. Alternating between plates of descending size, using teacups as spacers between the tiers, glue the dishes together with a strong epoxy. To avoid using excess glue, apply only to the rim and bottom of the cup, rather than on the plate. Allow the glue to dry overnight, then hand wash before using.
These little dishes, long popular in Spanish restaurants and bars, have come to include a whole range of savory tidbits. Some, like stuffed mushrooms, are finger foods; others, like grilled seafood salad, require a fork. All tapas, however, are simple to prepare, so they are perfect for summer entertaining. Prepare one recipe to have as an appetizer -- or, even better, make a meal of tapas by choosing a few and sampling them all.
Turn unused cotton button-downs into cloth napkins or dishcloths, reducing your need for paper products at your summer soiree. Wash the shirts well and cut the fabric into uniformly sized pieces, about 12 inches square. Either leave edges frayed or sew a hem for a cleaner look.
Liven up your summer soiree with these appetizers and beverages.
Caponata with Flatbread
Sparkling Pear and Cranberry Cocktail
They don't just keep your wine from spilling and spoiling -- corks can also protect your party tables from hot pots and pans. For a medium-size trivet, collect at least 50 uniformly sized corks. Stand them upright and arrange them into a tight circle. Surround corks with an 8- to 10-inch metal hose clamp (sold in the plumbing section of the hardware store). Tighten the clamp to bind the corks together and then trim the excess clamp with metal clippers.