With Brooke Giannetti, Patina Home & Garden
Photography By Meghan Aileen & Victoria Pearson
All too often when we think of “entertaining” the first thing that comes to mind is a lot of extra effort. If you are inviting friends over for dinner, your mind immediately goes to having to make a fancy, five-course meal, the house has to be spotless, maybe the old couch needs to be replaced and the front flower beds need replanting.
I used to be that person. I would worry about people coming over and living up to my own self-inflicted expectations. But my mom would always say that people are just excited to be invited over. It doesn’t have to be a fancy affair. A social gathering can be festive without being froufrou.
Here are three things I do when I’m entertaining and want to make it special while keeping it simple.
Two Words: Charcuterie Board
One of mine and Steve’s go-to plans when we entertain is to assemble charcuterie boards. They sound fancy, look beautiful and taste even better. But this is something that doesn’t need to be overwhelming to you as a host.
Charcuterie boards are a great way to take advantage of things you can find at your local farmer’s market. We love the idea of starting local, and that’s how we began to stock our farm shop. We wanted as much of it as possible to be local. We have local cheeses and work with different people who make delicious nut mixes such as bourbon pecans or spicy whiskey pecans.
In the spring, it’s great to add in some seasonal vegetables and fruits to a board. I also love dried fruit when fruit isn’t at peak season. Dried apricots or cranberries add some beautiful color and texture to a palate of cheeses.
Whatever you decide to assemble, have fun with it. Start with a board and a few small bowls, and keep adding to it. As long as you have a little variety and enjoy the process, your charcuterie board will be amazing. There aren’t really any rules to follow. Just keep it fresh and simple.
Create a Signature Cocktail or Infused Water
Nothing makes a gathering feel special like a signature cocktail created special for the event. If your gathering has people who don’t drink alcohol, it can be as simple as adding some fruit and muddled mint to ice water and serving it in a pretty container.
One of mine and Steve’s favorite cocktails is one we shared in our book, Patina Living. When you start to think about a signature drink, don’t let it get complicated with too many or hard-to-find ingredients. Remember to keep it simple.
Patina Living Cocktail
1 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 Tbsp. agave syrup
1 cup vodka (optional)
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Make cucumber juice by peeling cucumbers and running them in a food processor until they are pulp. Pour the pulp through cheesecloth to strain. Measure one cup of cucumber juice and combine with lemon juice, agave syrup and vodka (if desired) in a tall pitcher and stir. Fill a martini shaker with ice and pour in some of the mixture. Shake. Serve in a chilled martini glass and garnish with a few mint leaves.
Your guests will feel extra special and you haven’t spent the whole day shopping trying to create some magic.
Enhance Your Ambiance
My last piece of entertaining advice is also a very simple way to elevate your entertaining space with just the smallest changes.
Depending on the season, I like to work in some color to the common spaces in our home. For springtime gatherings I might use some sage and cypress green colors in the form of new linens or candles.
I love the colored candles we have at Patina Home & Garden that come in a variety of colors and scents. Lighting one candle and placing it on your kitchen island not only adds a little color, it adds warmth and even a subtle scent. All things that your guests will notice.
Combining various natural shades of green through a candle, some linens and even napkins and table runners helps bring a little bit of the outdoors inside.
Lastly, don’t forget the music. Build a playlist to have playing softly in the background that will complement the group of people you have gathering at your home. Do you have a record player? Have a stack of albums handy for your guests to choose from.
So, as you can see, entertaining can be enjoyable for the host and beautiful at the same time. Don’t let your mind get caught up in wanting to buy new furniture before you invite guests over. Just make a few simple snacks, a drink for your guests to sip on and let the conversation and camaraderie be the centerpiece of the gathering.
Need help making your entertaining dreams come true? Visit us at Patina Home & Garden in the heart of the village of Leiper’s Fork.