Summer place settings

summer-place-settings-crabI love hosting dinner parties.  They don’t all have to be large groups or fancy events.  A small group of six for dinner makes an intimate party.  It’s also a casual atmosphere where everyone can relax.  It also means that I’m not in the kitchen too long.  During the summer that’s especially important. I don’t want to be stuck in a hot kitchen while everyone is chatting on our porch. Here’s a few ideas of  summer place settings for your next summer get together.

Crabs are a fun summer dinner party! Everyone will get messy but that’s half the fun.  For a Labor Day party theme, I’ve paired a red, white and blue napkin with all the necessary crab utensils: mallet, pick, and knife.  Don’t forget a little bowl for finger cleaning! Guests will really appreciate this when switching from crabs to other dishes.  Around DC the easiest way to buy Maryland blue crabs is to order them from an Eastern Shore shack and take a morning adventure out to pick them up.  Don’t forget to have plenty of white wine or your favorite beer chilled for the party.  A crisp glass of wine will go perfectly with those Old Bay steamed crabs.

summer-place-settings-steakFor a Parisian inspired steak dinner party, I’ve switched out the small plain white plate for this whimsical metallic dot plate. Use them to serve a lightly dressed salad before grilled steaks and potatoes.  Laguiole steak knives are my favorite.  The tiny bee on the handle is pretty but the knife’s greatness is in it’s sharp edge and balanced feel in your hand.  Leftover wine corks add an extra touch as a knife holder.  A tiny dish at each place setting holds freshly ground pepper and truffle salt-yum.  
summer-place-settings-fish

Fresh fish on the grill would be another easy summer dinner party.  I’d grab some swordfish steaks or ahi tuna for a firm filling entrée.  A vintage collection of painted plates nicely coordinates with the summery napkins.  I’ve fallen for Laguiole fish knives just as I have with their steak knives. Do people really use such things?  I never did until I received a set as a gift.  I love them now!  They work very well to take apart fish fillets and assist in searching for bones. A lemon wedge at each place brightens the table.  A simple tumbler complete the place setting.  Sometimes I like to use tumblers instead of wine glasses.  It brings a realxed feel to the party.  It’s also easier to clean the glasses-all the dishes and glassware go in the dishwasher!

I love hosting dinner parties.  It keeps me in control of the menu (so important now being gluten free), it allows me to have a relaxing time with my friends instead of being rushed through dinner at a restaurant, and it’s a way for me to express myself through what I cook and how the table is decorated.  So next time you want to get together with some friends, why not invite them over for a fun summer dinner party?

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