Entertaining is A Breeze
Here are our tips for a post-pandemic celebration
Summer is here, and so is the urge to entertain. After a long year of social distancing, you may feel more than ready to get your toes wet when it comes to entertaining. Or, you may still be feeling a little hesitant about greeting large groups of people. No matter your comfort level — and the comfort level of your guests — you can rock the 4th of July like in the pre-pandemic times. Here are a few helpful hints when it comes to entertaining.
Go Disposable, Go Rental
Not only do disposable plates, glasses, and silverware keep things a little more contained, but they also lessen the burden when it comes to entertaining. If your idea of disposable plates are the flower-patterned versions of yore, know that the world has expanded a lot from the old days of disposable. There are plenty of heavy-duty (and eco-friendly) paper-based products available —the company Eco Party produces a line made from sugar cane fiber — as well as compostable cutlery, made from biodegradable materials like cornstarch. If you’d prefer not to toss your wares away, consider hiring a party rental company to provide plates and glassware. The Mattituck-based At Your Service Party Rentals stocks everything you might need for a party at home.
Embrace Small Plates
Although family-style dining can be great when it comes to entertaining, you probably want fewer people touching the food this year. With that in mind, you can still serve an exceptional 4th of July feast using small plates. Serve ceviche in single-serve cups that guests can grab from a designated food service area. Offer Caprese salad, but on per-person skewers. Whip up a delightful guacamole, but serve it in martini glasses, adorned with a few chips. The idea is to move guests away from communal bowls and plates without disrupting the beauty and delight of a backyard event.
Instead of hiring a bartender this year, consider diving into one of the hottest new trends in cocktailing: canned drinks. Not only can you get rosé, sparkling, red, and white wine in a can, but you can also get pre-mixed cocktails (alcohol included). At Greenport Wines & Spirits, you can find the Fishers Island Lemonade (a vodka- and whiskey-based cocktail that is made with natural juices), the High Noon vodka-based hard seltzer, and Bacardi’s Limon & Lemonade and Rum Punch. The store also carries the Cutwater line of canned cocktails, which includes a Bloody Mary, Cucumber Vodka Soda, spiked Horchata Cold Brew, Rum & Ginger, and White Russian. Or, opt for a canned wine or wine spritzer, like the red wine spritzer from Barefoot. Set up a bar with glasses and cold cans and you’re ready to party.
Ice Cream Over Pie
The 4th of July is supposed to be casual and fun. Instead of serving pie — which has to be sliced and served — consider pre-wrapped ice cream bars and popsicles. (You’re unlikely to find a more festive popsicle than the bomb pop, with its red, white, and blue patriotism.) Set up a large cooler of ice and bury in it your favorite grocery store treats. Pre-wrapped ice cream sandwiches, individual-serving ice cream cups, Italian ices, popsicles, and Good Humor bars all make rewarding choices. Better yet, they’ll transport your guests back to the days of carefree childhood, as any good 4th of July soiree should. If you have the urge to add something homemade to the dessert table, try skewers of fresh fruit, like strawberries, pineapples, and melon. Guests can grab a skewer and eat it without spooning through the fruit bowl or touching a plate. If you feel particularly committed to baked goods, though, opt for single-serving hand pies over whole pies, so that guests can take one per person. For these, you can place them on small disposable plates to keep things tidy.
Adjust Your Seating
Although you may have an area that is already designated for seating, it’s ok to change it up for a night or two. You can use ceramic planters as makeshift cocktail tables, so that guests who are
seated farther away from a main table have a place to put drinks and plates. Spread your seating out onto your lawn to keep people a little farther apart. Or, consider renting extra chairs and seating from a local company, so that there are more options for guests — and fewer opportunities for congestion.
Rethink Common Spaces
Consider the spaces where guests tend to congregate — food and drink areas and garbage cans, for instance — and reconfigure them. Add several small ice and drink stations and small garbage cans so that fewer people are standing in the same place at once. You can use planters for this, too: simply take a ceramic planter and line it with a white plastic garbage bag and you have your very own portable receptacle. At The Glass Greenhouse & Farm Market, in Jamesport, you can purchase unique planters (and, while you’re there, a few decorative plants that can go right in the ground after you’re done).