Summer Entertaining

I love to entertain, I truly love it. I get enjoyment in coming up with the décor and setting the tone, it’s really fun for me.  Summer entertaining is second only to holiday entertaining for obvious reasons, I mean the magic of the holidays is unreal, the snow, music, presents, the decorations, the parties and the food!  But back to summer, I grew up in New England and spent the summers in Southern Maine. So the season for me means chowdah (no bacon people!), steamers and lobster, in that order with buckets of butter.  It means getting too much sun during the day and freezing your buns off at night while sitting around a camp fire roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.  Living in NYC for the past 12 years hasn’t made it so easy to recreate this theme.  Two years ago I flew in lobster from Maine and made lobster rolls to order in our tiny apartment.  I served them with those throw away cartons with red and white paper to absorb the grease while looking cute.  By flew in I mean ordered from Luke’s Lobster so not so fancy but technically correct.

This year, as I have mentioned, we will be in Nantucket and I am soo excited to have a real New England extended fete.  Before we had our baby we would take a big ole summer trip to Europe.  With Logan still being so young we felt it would be more relaxing to rent a house and stay on American soil. When we arrive on a Saturday afternoon to begin our two week stay I have asked Petite Travelers of Nantucket to stock our fridge with some first night essentials.  Cheese, crackers, local jam and wine of course.  We will go for our big grocery shop on Sunday morning.  I hate roaming around a grocery store aimlessly.  I love getting in putting on a cardigan and getting down to business.  So of course I need a plan and a list.

The Plan

For the first week with family and friends we will have mostly brunch/lunch out and dinner in.  Second week it will just be me, my husband, and Logan with a babysitter for some date nights out.

You don’t ever want your guests to feel like they need to ask permission to eat something while in your home (whether rented or not).  Ask ahead of time any preferences people may have, how do they like their coffee?  Any particular juice or beverage?  Any other must haves?  Some people may be too shy to respond honestly or don’t want to put the host out.  So I just make sure to have everything basic on hand.

For the Morning Beverage

Coffee (decaf and regular), cream, milk, sugar in the raw, white sugar, stevia.  Also, an array of tea options- Green, English Breakfast, lemon zinger, sleepy time (don’t forget honey!).  And because it is vacation your obligatory Bloody Mary Mix (and vodka), Fresh OJ (and champagne).

For the DIY Breakfast

Everyone wakes up at different times and likes to start their day a different way.  You don’t want to make a formal morning breakfast every day but rather have more of a ‘choose your own adventure’ feel to the morning.  I like to provide the tools for people to do what they want.

Things I like to have on hand: Eggs and the fixins, various cheeses, fresh Chives, bacon, sausage, peppers, mushrooms, Pillsbury biscuits, pancake mix, maple syrup, and fresh whipped cream. With these items stocked, instead of a formal breakfast it usually becomes more laid back and impromptu. Someone usually takes the lead with making a big batch of scrambled eggs or omelets to order.

Some other easy breakfast items to have handy- granola, yogurt, bread (a thicker bread like challah as well in case someone wants French toast), English muffins (raisin and regular), butter, peanut butter, bananas, fresh fruit, cottage cheese.

Whenever we are hosting a longer stay I like to go out the second day and pick up some local breakfast and dessert treats to just have on hand. Donuts, cinnamon buns, whatever is local, fresh and good. Desserts usually fudge, a pie- again whatever is local fresh and good.

For the DIY Lunch- so you can say, hey let’s grill, hey let’s make some sandwiches, hey let’s pack a picnic and go to the beach.

Burgers, hotdogs, cheese (sliced American, swiss and provolone), buns, fixins (ketchup, relish, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes)

Salad fixins – a few different lettuces (romaine, arugula, spinach, bibb), various veggies, cheeses, croutons, and dressings (can also make your own vinaigrette)

Sandwiches- a couple different sliced breads whole wheat, rye, white, deli meat- ham and turkey

The DIY Snack- for just hanging around the house

Things to have stocked so people can help themselves- chips, salsa, nacho fixins (who doesn’t love an impromptu nacho fix!), nuts, and kind bars

Easy Apps-The after beach pre dinner time

Cheese, crackers, grapes, charcuterie, jams, pears, Pillsbury crescent rolls (brie), almonds


Dinners do need to be a bit more mapped out.  I like to write out a little list of the nightly events, either on a chalkboard or on one of Emily Ley’s Printables, that way people can get excited about the night and/or voice any opposition and give special requests early.  Some of the dinner ideas planned for Nantucket so far are- Lobster Bake, Steak tips and Grilled Chicken, Seafood/pasta night, and Pizza Night.

Pizza night is always a hit and if I am hosting people that don’t know each other very well, I do it on the first night of the trip.  I usually pair up couples or friends to each make a pizza and everyone chips in with getting all of the toppings ready.


Always, always have a well-stocked bar! Various white and red wines, beer and hard liquor depending on what your family and friends drink.  Also, always good to be stocked with lots of fillers- flavored sparkling water like la Croix, Pellegrino, etc. and of course, lemons and limes a plenty.  I also like to have fun straws or cute drink decorations depending on the season (American flag, plastic monkey, whatever – it’s fun!)

Fun Food

I like to have some fun items on hand for people to make if they want. Cookies (ice cream sandwiches), make your own doughnut kit, ice cream and everything to make an awesome sundae.  I also always have graham crackers, Nestle Chocolate (easy to melt) and Marshmallows for s’mores!

Some nights I will leave open for leftovers, or if people want to do their own thing.  Sometimes guests will want to come up with their own idea for dinner and cook for everyone. The plan is to be well stocked and have suggestions on hand but not too rigid that there isn’t any wiggle room for some vacation fun!


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Entertaining Essentials

Ina Garten Parties is always a great reference! • I think aprons are as fun as they are practical! This Eat Cake for Breakfast is cute! • Always need a good cocktail napkin for every occasion. These Caspian Splatterware Cocktail Napkins are perfect for summer. • McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix is a bit elevated and always good. • William Sonoma’s Doughnut Mix is a must. They have a lot of great DIY kits that can be geared towards guests’ interests. • Simon Pearce’s breadboard makes for a perfect charcuterie board.  • Lobster Placemat Pads are easy for adults or children.


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