It’s Summertime and the Entertaining is Easy

by Kimba on June 9, 2011

in Entertaining,In the Kitchen,Sanctuary at Home

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I have a confession to make. There was a time in my life when entertaining at home stressed me out. A lot. And it was my own fault.

I made entertaining too complicated.

Every gathering turned into a major party, because I didn’t understand the joy that comes from connecting with just a few friends over dinner. I pulled out my fancy cookbooks and tried out fancy new recipes that didn’t always work out. I scrambled to finish complicated decorations and my mood always suffered. I smiled on the outside, but by the time my guests arrived, I was stressed and tired. It was impossible for me to relax and enjoy my company.

The more I tried to entertain this way, the more reluctant I became. It was too hard.

Then something began to change. People came into my life who made it look easy, so I studied them. And I began to realize that the best hostesses weren’t the ones who cooked a fancy meal or had an immaculate home. The best hostess was the one who enjoyed connecting with her company. All the other stuff was unimportant.

In July of 2008, my husband and I moved into a new house. We were convinced that the Lord wanted us to be very open with our home. We needed to connect with our family and friends in a more personal way.

I knew that I had to keep it simple if we were going to open our home to company more frequently. Summer has become my favorite time to entertain and this is my go-to meal. It lets me spend my time focused on my guests and not myself.

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Hot dogs on the grill. That’s all. Not hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and kielbasa. Just hot dogs. I’m a bit of a hot dog snob, so I get the all meat ones from the butcher. But they’re still just hot dogs.

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A big bowl of juicy watermelon. Sometimes it’s cantaloupe or honeydew depending on that I find at the store. Not fancy tropical fruit salad with lemon basil dressing. Just a big bowl of cut fruit. Delish!

corn on the cob

Corn on the cob served straight from the stove. Nothing screams summer to me like yummy corn on the cob rolled in butter and sprinkled with salt. And nothing could be easier to make. Just shuck it on the back porch (I sometimes ask my guests to do this) and steam it in a big pot for 5-6 minutes. Done.

condiments

The condiments go right on the table. No sense dirtying up more dishes for serving ketchup.

Dessert is easy too. I let someone else bring it. Someone always asks “What can I bring?”. So I ask them to bring dessert and I always have popsicles in the freezer for the kids. Easy as pie…or cake…or pudding.

And, in case you’re wondering, that lemonade up there is Country Time.

Keeping things simple has made all the difference for me. I love being able to connect with my guests when I’m not stressed and tired.

Linking up to Centsational Girl’s Summer Linky!

This article was published last summer at The Reluctant Entertainer. It’s just as true now as it was then, so I wanted to share it here.

Check out Sandy’s 30 Days of Summer Entertaining for lots of beautiful inspiration.

What’s you’re favorite summertime dinner?

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{ 29 comments }

1 J. Hill June 9, 2011 at 9:15 am

I am throwing myself a 30th birthday party with all my friends in a week and a half, and you know what I am going to serve? Pizza, delivered to my door by the helpful pizza man. Paired with some pop and beer, and a campfire. And lots of laughter.

That’s entertaining.

2 Kimba June 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I love it! That sounds like a perfect party!

3 Jamie @ charmingly ordinary June 9, 2011 at 9:47 am

Wow. I couldn’t agree more! I remember feeling the exact same way about entertaining. Oh, the pressure! And then, like you, I discovered that not everything needs to be a production and now we have a good time when friends/family come over for a meal or drinks. :)

4 marion June 9, 2011 at 9:54 am

This is me!! I was reading your words and nodding in complete agreement!

I’ve turned entertaining into this huge multi-course extravaganza that requires days of work. But when I turned it into that, I rarely entertained.

I think the more you entertain in the new way you describe, the more comfortable and enjoyable it can become. Thanks for helping me see this!

5 Deborah June 9, 2011 at 9:58 am

LOVE, LOVE LOVE this post!! Did I say I loved it yet?

I think what it hard is being surrounded with all of the seemingly perfect people who throw seemingly perfect parties and do everything in life just right. I am always trying to be that person, when in reality, I just want to enjoy life, not outdo some one or something every time. It has taken me years to realize this same thing. I still like to pull out all the stops from time to time, but not every time.

Thanks for another reminder to simply enjoy life and the people in it.

6 Kimba June 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm

You nailed it. Life is so much better when you excuse yourself from the competition. Just enjoy it.

7 Comeca Jones June 9, 2011 at 10:06 am

Thanks for reminding us it doesn’t have to be hard.
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8 Heather S. June 9, 2011 at 10:13 am

Thanks for the reminder. This is so true and with my good friends I am excellent at entertaining this way. However, I am hosting a summer Bible study in my house on Tuesdays and I need the reminder that it doesn’t all have to be perfect. What is most important is that I am available to meet the needs of the ladies I am welcoming into my home.

9 bobbi June 9, 2011 at 10:58 am

This is great. The food looks delicious and the mood is relaxed. I’m in.

10 Sandy @ RE June 9, 2011 at 11:28 am

Ahh, thanks, girl. Summer entertaining is easy. So glad you reposted this cuz it’s encouraging to others! Have a beautiful summer!

11 Brown Eyed Girl June 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Ha! I think the reason we are clickin’ so well as of late is we are on the same page, a LOT…my favorite summer go-to meal is EXACTLY the same as yours, except I am a burger gal, so we tend to have those instead of the dogs. And my entertaining menus in general have evolved to much simpler fare, also…because really, the more that’s out the more that has to be managed, kept cold, kept hot, wrapped up, put away…and who needs that when there are friends and family to enjoy?? We’ll be havin’ y’all over for burgers, corn on the cob, and fruit sometime soon. =)

12 Kimba June 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Excellent! And I’ll bring dessert. :)

13 Angie June 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Amen and A-MEN! I think you sacrifice a lot of connection when you aim for perfection, in so many ways. I get tired when I try so hard… and then have no energy to connect. If ketchup is displayed beautifully in a pedastaled bowl with a dainty dipping spoon… I’ve lost those who are fearful of the fancy. I love this post.

I just want to enjoy myself and enjoy my company! Simple is the way to go… and simple doesn’t have to sacrifice fun and beautiful and welcoming.

14 Penny June 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I LOVE this! That is just as it should be! My Mamma used to get all bent out of shape if we were having company and it made things NOT FUN! Now that I am the Mamma, I have adopted the attitude that you are welcome in my home, as lived in as it is! We do a lot of “pot luck” or crock pot dinners to make things easy and if there is dust around feel free to sign your name in it or leave me a love note! If you are invited to my home, then you must know me well enough to know that I am NOT perfect! Love me, love my _______ (mess, dust, kids, dog) you fill in the blank! Life is too short.
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15 Debbie June 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Great post, so true!
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16 Erin June 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I couldn’t agree more! I remember how elaborate my first Thanksgiving was. I took a day off from work to prep and was up late every night that week. Then I had kids. One year, we even ordered most of the dinner on-line. While I sometimes fall back into old patterns, I try to make one special thing and keep the rest simple or store bought so I can enjoy myself. I hated missing out on my company because I was running around like a chicken without a head. Thanks for the reminder! Have a great summer!
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17 Rachel June 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I love this post because it is so true of me and my husband! We literally just had the conversation the other day that you hear all these people on home shows and talk shows talking about how they need a great space to entertain, or how they need a new space because they just ‘love to entertain”. My husband and I both looked at each other and came to the conclusion that we much be the only humans that don’t like to entertain! You are right though, with good friends, it makes it easy….and as we age I enjoy the art of entertaining that much more. thanks for sharing and making me feel like I am not the only one.

from a fellow hot dog snob

18 Nessa June 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Love this… and I so relate. I am having company in tomorrow and was starting to stress. Relax… and enjoy them. Thanks for the reminder.
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19 Ami June 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Thank you for this post! I am planning a 4th of July BBQ and I was already starting to stress. When really I just want it to be fun and relaxed. Thanks for the reminder. :)

20 Lori F. June 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

This is so true! Two of our most special get-togethers were “nothing fancy.” One time I actually served creamed dried beef on toast to a Cornell-educated Ph. D. who has traveled the world with the U.N. But deep down he is just a farm guy who loves the simple things. Another time I had chicken and biscuits for a sled-riding party. As more people showed up, I just kept making more biscuits.
We recently entertained our minister and his wife with take-out pizza (a church fundraiser) and a big salad. They loved it and can’t wait to come back to visit with us again.
I also don’t have sets and sets of different dishes stashed away. Several years ago I bought 3 dozen plain white 10″ plates from a restaurant supply company. Now when we have a large group of people, I can at least offer them a real plate and then they can all go in the dishwasher when we’re done.
I like to follow Ina Garten’s advice-make one or two things and buy the rest. Don’t stress yourself out cooking for days!

21 Mandy @ This Girl's Life June 9, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Yes! I’m all about keeping things simple. And if there is fresh buttered and salted corn on the cob, I’m a happy camper. Add some s’mores and I’m in heaven. :)

22 The Mommy Therapy June 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I defintely over complicate things when I entertain. This is a great reminder of what is really important when gathering with friends and family. I need to keep this summer menu in mind.

That lemonade looks fabulous, regardless of what kind it is!

Thanks for sharing!
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23 Immeasurably More Mama June 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I love this post. The entertainer/hostess in me needed to be reminded to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!). Stupid is exactly how I feel like when I go over the top and stress myself out!

24 Nancy June 11, 2011 at 2:48 am

You and Sandy have taught me so much these past years. My menu for tomorrow after our foreclosure sale is hot dogs on the grill, corn on the cob and fresh fruit. I must have been taught by some great women ;-)

25 Emily June 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

My dad always reminds me that it’s not what you do or serve or house the house looks but how welcome you make people feel that makes the difference between a successful get-together and a time of frustration. People will enjoy their time in a garage or around a campfire or into a messy living room as long as they feel loved and welcomed.
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26 Trish @TheOldPostRoad June 11, 2011 at 9:35 am

Yum. Never thought I would say that about hotdogs. Those photos remind me of a nice day with friends and family, outside!
-Trish
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27 kathysue June 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

Great article with some very good advice!! Happy summer weekend,Kathysue

28 Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam) June 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

And this is just as great a reminder NOW as it was last year, the only difference, I want to hang out with you and eat those hot dogs with you now…and NOT in one more year. ;)

(Isn’t it time to visit your NC relatives? MOI!)
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29 denise @ victory rd. June 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

i need to learn this. not to make a big fuss. to simply realize people are here to be with me not my preparations.

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