This post contains ideas for a summer dinner party.
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The evenings are warm, and the days are long. What time of year is better to welcome your nearest and dearest into your yard to share a meal, drinks, and old stories? Whether you are marking a specific occasion or ushering in a new summer tradition (yearly summer appetizer party, anyone?!), these summer dinner party menu ideas are easy, fresh, and seasonally inspired.
Craft Beer Tasting & Bring Your Own Appetizer
Take a new spin on the classic BYOB backyard potluck by requesting your guests to bring their favourite craft beer and appetizer to share. Have the cooler of ice ready to go and communicate to everyone the number of guests to expect! This is a fun way to bring your local brewery into your backyard. I find there are several breweries who now also offer non-alcoholic options from their tap. In addition to your craft beer contribution, add some of these non-alcoholic selections into the mix for those choosing not to drink but wanting to participate! I find a successful potluck takes a little bit of coordination, so don’t be shy in providing a bit of direction to your guests so you aren’t doubled up on appetizers.
DIY Taco Bar
Sometimes the summer season gives the illusion of life slowing down. Perhaps it’s the longer days? The kids no longer in school? But if your household is anything like mine there is a temptation to get out and take advantage of the beautiful weather. Don’t let your ambitious summer bucket list keep you from adding a summer dinner party to the list! What I love about the DIY taco bar is that the prep is quick and easy. Many of the items needed can go straight from packaging to platter without any additional prep. Other items can be diced or put in a crockpot the morning of and be ready to go as your guests arrive. When brainstorming for the DIY taco bar summer dinner party menu, consider these four easy categories: (1.) base, (2.) protein, (3.) produce, (4.) toppings. You can accommodate dietary restrictions and variety from there.
Mediterranean Mezze Platter
The summer charcuterie board of the French continues to dominate in popularity when it comes to light fare. The similar, but lesser known, mezze platter of the Mediterranean region offers the ease and accessibility of the charcuterie board with less familiar flavour pairings for your guests. Swap out the baguette with the pita, add in olives alongside the pickles, and spread baba ghanoush generously! The Mediterranean mezze platter can also include prepared dishes like tabbouleh or falafel if you are wanting to offer more substantial options alongside the small bites.
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For additional mezze inspiration, check out “Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for any Occasion”
Grilled or Boiled Seafood Feast
Though I am currently living in the prairies, my roots are Atlantic Canada, and a grilled seafood feast is one of my favourite ideas for a summer dinner party. Don’t let your geography hold you back from this playful and iconic summer soiree. One of the best aspects of this summer dinner party idea is that you can roll out the newsprint, don the bibs, and lean into the casualty of the atmosphere while still making it a memorable experience for your guests. Don’t forget the lemon!
Build your own Burger and Salad Bar
When thinking of ideas for a summer dinner party, the tried-and-true burger BBQ is a classic for a reason. Looking for ways to elevate? Consider specializing the ingredients for your guests: buns from a local bakery, a gourmet sauce mini bar, or a cheese board selection for toppings. Add fresh and seasonal salads to pair with the burger bar. I am convinced that summer salads, done well, are poised to steal the show from burgers. Consider changing the base of each salad to ensure variety in selection like fruit, pasta, or potato. My personal favourite is watermelon-feta-mint!
Wine and Cheese Pairing Party
I love this summer dinner party menu ideas because it can be the star of the show, serve as a fun appetizer to a larger meal, or help close a cozy summer day around the patio fireplace. Unfamiliar with how to pair varieties of wine with cheese? No problem! Your local wine store can often stand in as sommelier with recommendations. I find that one of the keys to this summer dinner party is in the clarity of presentation. Add in Cheese signs and lay out the wine so your guests instinctively know what to pair based on your tablescape.
Build Your Own Kebab
I am convinced that the summer kebab party is among the most underrated ideas for a summer dinner party. Whether it is seafood, beef, chicken, or vegetable base, the kebab offers a variety of combinations to serve guests with different dietary preferences without additional strain on the host. I also love that the mobility of this meal allows for it to be enjoyed while playing lawn games! While the grill-master keeps an eye on platter levels, your guests can grab a kebab and go play a friendly game of bocce ball or cornhole without having to manage a plate.
Summer Dinner Party Ideas
I hope you feel inspired to bring together your family and friends this summer to share a meal and perhaps add in new summer traditions.
This post was all about ideas for a summer dinner party.