One of my favorite places to entertain is on my patio (it's also the only place I really have to entertain, since I live in a studio apartment!).
The patio is surprisingly large (it comfortably fits 8 around a dining table, plus a grill), and is a wonderful oasis in the concrete jungle of Manhattan. This unique feature is what made me fall in love with my apartment the first time I toured it, and why I keep renewing my lease year after year. There is just something so special about being able to have some beautiful, quiet, private outdoor space in the middle of this loud, cramped city!
I try not to take this space for granted since it's such a rarity in Manhattan, so I aim to spend as much time as possible on it when the weather is nice and warm. One of my favorite annual traditions is my summer patio kick-off party, which I hold in May right after I plant my patio flowers! This ladies-only affair is always held on a weeknight after work, and is a fantastic way to spend some time outdoors with fun friends after being cooped up all winter, and it sets the tone for more summer patio fun to come!
The theme of this year's patio kick-off was Summer Stars (mainly because I had lots of gold glitzy star stickers that I wanted to use - haha!). I invited a bunch of my girlfriends over and decided to keep things simple by ordering some food platters from Fresh Direct (I was slightly ashamed of my inability to whip up a home-cooked meal, but at least I know my strengths and weaknesses). By cutting back on the food prep, I had more time for my favorite tasks - creating pretty décor and tasty signature cocktails!
These pear welcome shots were a big hit and can easily be turned into a martini - recipe coming soon!
Let's jump into a little photo tour of the evening:
Each guest received a favor box, which was a metallic take-out carton filled with chocolates.
In order to maximize space, I always use my coffee table as a staging area where I set up all the glasses, plates, utensils, and napkins that we'll need throughout the evening.
Since this was a girls-only affair, I stuck with a feminine color scheme of metallics and shades of purple.
Since I ordered most of the food, I had more time to work on little crafts, like these paper flags for the cheese board. I mounted cardstock on toothpicks, then glued a metallic purple trim to the top of each one.
The final, assembled cheese board: nuts, grapes, and honey were served alongside the cheese and crackers to personalize each bite.
We snacked, laughed, and talked a lot about our upcoming trip to Las Vegas (which is just around the corner - we'll be there this weekend, so crazy!).
Oh yes, and in keeping with the cheeseboard theme, we had a quartet of mini cheesecakes for dessert (so yummy). I was actually inspired by The Golden Girls and all the cheesecake they used to enjoy out on the lanai, haha!
What are your ingredients for a perfect girls night? Do you have any annual summer kick-off traditions?