Saturday, August 18

6 Easy tips for your end-of-Summer soiree

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 set a festive table for your last summer soiree
  I used blue & white with natural textures and a shot of lemon yellow to set a pretty table for last night's lobster bake.
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 a week until the Hampton Classic 
and two weeks left of summer, 
let's make the most of the festivities with 
6 easy entertaining tips 

I don't know about you, but as the end of summer rushes in I long to slow down the clock.  There is something surreal about the last lingering days of summer.  We try to cram all the summer wishes we have into the last two weeks.  In the East End of Long Island the last week of August is literally taken over with Bridgehampton's Hampton Classic Horse show.  Hotels are booked, restaurant reservations are nearly impossible to get and everyone seems to be talking "horses" around these parts.
girls preparing for the Hampton Classic Horseshow at Haverhill barn
Ali Epstein, Gabby Stephenson, Raquel Lopez and Alex Lopez
Having an equestrian in the family, we have simply gotten used to the end of summer becoming all about the Hampton Classic Horse show.  When driving the back roads of Bridgehampton the usually quiet streets are now buzzing with activity.  The farmer's field is literally transformed into an equestrian mecca to prepare for the throes of people and horses arriving from all corners of the country to compete under the blue tents and out in the farm fields.

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 images I captured of the tables and festivities 
during past Hampton Classics

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2011 Hampton Classic Horse show
my daughter Gabby receiving instruction from trainer Patrick Rice
Victoria Vandergriff putting last minute touches
on her Grand Prix table Hampton Classic 2011
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The week of competitions end with a splash: 
spectators coming out in their finest Sunday best, donning hats and cameras while sipping bubbly under the VIP tent to watch the Grand Prix riders compete.  The tables at the Hampton Classic, which are jumbled together and erected literally hours before the event begins, is a sight to behold.  I'll be there again, camera in hand and voting for my favorite table, so stop back for my perspective on it all.
In the event you are throwing one more summer party, either under a tree, a pergola, on your city terrace, or a table at Grand Prix Sunday, read my six easy entertaining tips below.
What makes summer entertaining special?
Of course elaborate winter holiday tables are adorned with great detail, and a Thanksgiving table can truly be a sight to behold, but a summer table beckons with a fresh, unique style of its very own. 
you may have read my outdoor dinner party post in July 
complete with recipes and table setting ideas

Summer Entertaining 
is about the small details, fresh in-season food, beautiful surroundings and flowers.  With Labor Day on the horizon, I hope you enjoy the last hurrah! Check out images on my 
Dinner Party board on Pinterest 
Tip #1:  Keep It Simple
Okay that's a bit of an over generalization, but just as in good interior design, successful entertaining and table setting is about editing.  It works when there is a fine balance of color and textures and symmetry.  Of course all the bounties of the season help a great deal, like fresh flowers, beautiful fruits, vegetables and local wines.  Once you've worked the magic of setting a pretty table, stand back and maybe take one thing away for a clutter-free look. 
pay attention to the small details when summer entertaining.  You can serve individual sesame noodles in Chinese to-go cartons with chops sticks for a nice detail, or as in this photo above at the HC&G cocktail party at Guild Hall serve steamed dumplings in their own little bamboo steamers and on a slate board. A little bit of style goes a long way when passing tastings.  Serve in lacquered bento boxes, slate or wooden cutting boards, or even on a bed of lentils. But, remember to keep it simple and let the fresh food and in-season ingredients and fresh summer air shine with simple, creative touches.
Tip #2:  Use all one bloom flower arrangements.  

When it comes to flowers I say choose the single bloom arrangement for a simple, yet divine aesthetic.  
(Sorry Madonna but I am still scratching my head 
about your disdain for hydrangeas).
I like to use large hurricane globes or even mason jars as vases for summer table centerpieces.  I almost always choose farm stand flowers, either sunflowers or one variety of a flower 
in tall glass containers at varying heights.
Tip #3:  Use a contrast of textures 
and colors on your summer table
When setting a table, either formal or informal, think about using a contrast of patterns.  Here the hostess used a large scale blue and white place mat with a smaller scale blue and white diamond napkin to create a colorful backdrop for the navy and white tin plate.  The combination is enticing

Tip #4:  Serve Healthy and Light Desserts
 Since most everyone is trying to keep healthy in the summer it's always a good idea to serve a lighter dessert (sometimes alongside the calorie rich ones as an alternative).  You can never go wrong with fresh in-season fruit picked up at the local farm stand.  I love blueberries or a combination of raspberries and strawberries. Watermelon or sliced peaches are also in season in the summer months, and serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped fresh cream!
check out my delicious food boards on Pinterest with recipe links
Tip #5:  Invite the Kids
 Summer gatherings almost always seem to have that extra special something when it's a family event. Some of my most favorite memories are large parties where many families mingle under the summer stars.  Look how cute, need I say more?

Tip #6:  Invite your guests to the heart of your home, 
the kitchen, for a family-style dinner 
 Summer parties are fun when guests are invited to the kitchen and serve themselves family style. If you lay out all the food in large platters it creates a beautiful display, yet in an informal environment which sets the tone for casual, summer elegance.

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 Now go on and get out of here in time to throw one more summer celebration.  
Don't forget to stop back next week 
for Hampton Classic beautiful sightings!  To purchase grandstand tickets and a schedule of events, visit the 
Hampton Classic website
 Happy Nesting!