Summer BRIGHT Garden Fete

Sometimes my ambition gets the best of me, and I’ve never really been one to tread lightly.  A Barefoot Contessa, I am not, none the less, we decided to host an outside garden dinner party, for 25 people.  Yikes!

No catering company, no hired bartenders or rented anything.  Just a whole lot of foraging, planning, borrowing, scrambling, and a little in-house brawling (ha ha) and frankly— a lot of having fun!

Here’s how it ended up.

First and foremost, I prayed for good weather as the garden was the only spot where the party could be–and a main focus for the event.

Then we selected a color palette of bright orange and turquoise to set the theme “summer bright,” with plates, candles & a whole lot more.  Mixed in with lots of neutral nautical nods, like shells, glass floats, starfish and…

despite my best efforts, I can never really pass up a few kitschy decorations procured from the local party store.  I’m sure you noticed the plastic red anchor on the garden gate! And the crustacean below hanging on the front door…

Florals from farmers markets and my own yard, lobster bibs (which doubled as place mats, sourced from IKEA, how surprising and great were they to stumble upon?!), etc. all fell in line with the vibrant color scheme.

Rustic while practical and still elegant (stemmed and wobbly wine glasses, simply would not do) touches like selecting and using these canning jars for cocktails and wine while doubling as place card holders (found these plastic oval stickers at Cost Plus World Market, I will be going back and buying packets and packets of them for future parties) positioned in front of seats for assigned seating.

My brilliant friend suggested a “signature cocktail” for the event.  It was such a hit, I cannot even tell you.  New must-have addition to the liquor cabinet for all summer cocktails, Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea infused Vodka.

Here’s the recipe:  Fill the jar up to the top with ice, fill 1/2 way with Sweet Tea Vodka, top with lemonade, add a lemon slice or two and sprig of mint (mine comes from our garden), stir and VOILA!

We all joked throughout the evening that they went down so easily we needed to keep a tally system for how many each person would imbibe.  Putting a straw in these babies, pretty much equals death.  Be warned!

I am a firm believer that for parties, people like to be able to help themselves, so I always set up self serve bars.  It’s just less stuffy, especially for an event in a home.

I have always been blessed with good looking friends, I’m kidding.

Or maybe not.

but I swear, I’m not superficial…:)  Moving on.


As we pondered the menu and wanted to play up the fruits-of-summer idea (and I ‘m sure you can already guess by previous photos), we agreed –lobster would make a great “one pot” meal that we could serve somewhat easily, buffet style.   Again love and need the casual vibe.

We ordered 17, 1.5 pound lobsters.  They were actually from Canada, (my apologies to anyone I told were Maine lobsters, as I truly did not know til after the fact, but they were just as delicious and didn’t have as far to go!) as many people asked/wondered.  They were all alive when they went into the pot, so it must have been a particularly speedy trip through Customs:)

Purchased a ginormous 60 quart pot, (and now we are able to boil spaghetti for a whole school if needed for future events/track meets) that requires a whole room in our house to properly store, but oh well.

And in they go!  We followed this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.  By the way, did you know that if you throw in a couple of eggs, by the time they are hard boiled, the lobsters are DONE.  Pretty cool trick, Ehh? As those Canucks would say.

The round table worked great for the flow of the buffet.

Quick aluminum cover up (by this point, I’m all smiles) before we rallied the troops to load up their plates.

Demonstration of what everyone is in for (by Mi gorgeous Madre)!

Everyone got into the spirit and sported their bibs immediately.

The 3 dessert options consisted of #1 strawberry rhubarb pie that one my Besti-es made “with her own two hands” (as my daughter would ask…by the way, she also left a note requesting that we save some pie for her for the next morning).

#2 Klondike bars=summer treat as we all know, there are always some choca-holics in the crowd.

And for the grand finale– #3 fireside S’mores.  Cause we are all really kids at heart, right?

Yours Truly,

The Flip-Flop Contessa

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