Hosting Tips

The Glassette Guide To Summer Hosting

Seasonal Hosting Simplified: Your Step-By-Step Guide

This summer, we’re hosting at home and we're aiming for 30% flair and 70% ease. Are you with us?! Whether you’re preparing an al fresco breakfast for friends, a sweet bridal shower in nature or an evening of comfort food with family, consider this the ultimate guide to hosting this season. Step-by-step, we’re guiding you through the details it may feel overwhelming to consider. We want to give you all the ideas so that no matter how big or small your gathering, you feel inspired and empowered to host in style.

Summer Hosting 101 and Knowing Where To Begin:

No matter how experienced you are in hosting for those you love, knowing where to begin in planning your gathering can still feel like the biggest hurdle to overcome. One solution? Consider a theme. Bobby Flay, restaurateur and chef, is an advocate for the importance of hosting with intention. 

"Creating a theme is really important. It gets people excited, and it gives me an idea of things to go with the main dishes, like sides, cocktails, and wines. So I don't just think, I'm going to make a chicken dish. I think I want to make an Argentinean meal. With all of our great information access, I can research it."

Beginning with the cornerstone of the cuisine you hope to create is a helpful starting point, and if you plan on a culmination of all your favourite dishes, a focus on the flavours and feelings you want to evoke with your choices can be beneficial to consider too. 

Opt for a menu that celebrates the best of seasonal eating and the ease with which this can guide an otherwise potentially overwhelming choice process when designing your menu. 

“Focus on seasonality and work your way through recipes like that” says pastry chef and author Ravneet Gill. “When you use ingredients that are in their prime you can get away with doing less and getting max flavour.”

As with hosting during any season, preparing as many dishes in advance of your guests arriving is one of the most effective ways to allow ease in enjoying your gathering. As a general rule, allow yourself at least an hour before everyone arrives to do nothing except drink a glass of your favourite wine or warm weather beverage, and ease into the headspace of connecting with those you plan to share your efforts with. Whilst rewarding and oftentimes inspiring, hosting can bring a sense of overwhelm that a simple moment of pause can instantly quell. 

On The Menu:

During the warmer months when time in a hot kitchen can feel testing, room temperature salads are your friends - think grains, green beans, apple salads and chickpea based dishes that taste just as delicious when grazed on throughout the evening as they do when freshly prepared. For a menu that oozes summer in every sense, consider dishes such as beetroot salad with nectarines and sweet peppers,  grilled peaches with green beans and burrata, or add a summery seafood twist to comfort food dishes you feel confident preparing. We love the look of this Tarragon, bresaola, cherry & roasted hazelnuts salad by @anoushov.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in where to start with planning your menu, friend of Glassette and food writer Jess Elliott Dennison advises perfecting a simple dish ahead of preparing it for those you love. 

“Keep things simple and relaxed by mastering a really delicious dish that has just three or four ingredients rather than overwhelming yourself with lots of ingredients or complicated techniques. You could try something like the Tomato Butter Sugo from my book Tin Can Magic where you quickly simmer a tin of chopped tomatoes, garlic, chilli and butter for an amazing sauce to go on your favourite pasta. By keeping the sauce simple, you can invest in a good quality tin of tomatoes then customise with cheese, olives, capers, whatever you fancy...a good bottle of wine. Who doesn’t love pasta and wine?!”

If planning a multiple course meal feels overwhelming, then a selection of smaller dishes served in a buffet style will never fail you. Think servings of Panzella salad, bruschetta, spinach croquettes, garlic prawns and the humble but always adored cheese and cracker platter. Your menu need not be complicated to leave your guests feeling satisfied and cared for. Towpath chef Clare Cole thinks simple is best for small plates: "Try broccoli and anchovy with pangratatto (keeping breadcrumbs in the freezer has been a gamechanger) or a putanesca. As long as there’s garlic chilli and olive oil, it’s going to be delicious."

More inspiration: canapes by @pippyeats, simple burrata by @celineyrs and details by @blancamiro.

When it comes to the sweet stuff, summer is the season to get playful. From artful breakfast bowls comprised of fruit, pastries and edible flowers to sharing desserts designed to be tucked into in unison. Towering meringues will always be well received - this season dress them in pretty petals and vibrant berries to create something beautiful for your guests to share.

More dessert ideas from: @fran_miller, @domsli22 & @stromabakes

To Drink:

When the air is balmy and the days feel long, iced drinks are always a great choice. From large spherical ice cubes to smaller more decorative additions, combine beauty and function by including edible flowers and fruits that offer a cooling, beautiful addition to alcoholic and soft beverages. Follow @discocubes for all the ice inspiration.

If alcohol is on the agenda, the warmer weather offers the perfect backdrop for drinks that feel both refreshing and more colourful than their winter counterparts. Think oregano spritz, lambrusco sours, watermelon margaritas or a glass of rosé with a sweet icy twist.

Mocktails can conjure up the same magic, and during the warmer months the natural draw towards seasonal fruits is one that feels easy to embrace. A classic choice would be non-alcoholic versions of summer’s most loved Pimms and Pina Coladas (super easy to recreate and you can't tell the difference!). But what we're really interested in this summer is the wellbeing mocktail - designed with anti-inflammatory goodness to nurture your body. We love the sound of this pineapple and ginger concoction.

If you plan to cater for a larger group, you could create a small but functional area within your space where guests can customise their drink with garnishes of their choice. Include citrus fruit slices, ice, chilli, salt, sprigs of herbs and frozen fruit, and enjoy the ease this creates when balancing the responsibilities of hosting. 

Shop Summer Hosting Essentials

The Table Setting:

Whether you plan to host around a formal table setting, or embrace the longer daylight hours and transport your gathering into nature, setting the table and setting the mood is always the most enjoyable part. There’s lots of simple ways to make your outdoor gathering feel special. The humble white tablecloth is having a resurgence when it comes to tablescape trends of the moment, providing a neutral base for colourful ceramics and glassware to take centre stage and create your desired colour palette. Or perhaps you want to take inspiration from your surroundings, picking bold one hero colour and letting that sing. This is exactly what our co-founder Laura Jackson did with her ocean blue coloured table setting for a recent shoreside dinner in Cornwall. Blue plates, glassware and navy gingham tablecloths made the perfect accompaniments to the main jewelled blue tablecloth, the overall effect was spectacular.

No time for ironing? Don’t worry! Creased tablecloths and napkins are not to be frowned upon, and the undone and effortless look can be chic, especially in summer, especially in nature!

If you're a collector of second-hand or vintage tableware, lean into this summer's biggest tableware trend, Italian Nonna Chic. This trend makes the most of mismatched crockery, glassware and table linen, it's all about warmth and nostalgia - read more about how to get this look for your table here.

For budding food artists who really want to create a spectacle for their gathering - we'd recommend watching our video with Imogen Kwok where she shares simple tricks to make your food and drink creations artful and to impress your guests.

“If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about having people over, put all your energy into setting a beautiful table and creating a really special space, then you can either order a takeaway or get little pre-made platters and sharing bits from the supermarket. You don’t have to cook a whole meal from scratch. Your guests don’t mind at all. You want to have energy left to enjoy yourself and be present.” says food artist Kirthanaa Naidu. Learn from Kirthanaa about why it's not just setting the table, it's setting the whole mood for your event or dinner.

Further Reading to elevate your gathering:

The Art of Gathering - How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker

“If you’re bringing people together in any way - a dinner for four, a book club, a baby shower, a team lunch, a wedding - this is the book to read. It really breaks down the psychology of gathering and gives generous, tangible advice that makes you feel empowered and excited about bringing people together (instead of a bit scared and out of your depth!). You know some gatherings feel very special and a bit like magic, almost like it would be impossible to explain to someone who wasn’t there why it was so good? This book demystifies this and tells you exactly what you need to do to create a meaningful and memorable gathering.” - Sarah Brand, Head of Content & Creative, Glassette

The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo

Inspiration for unusual ingredients and seasonal cooking alongside beautiful, connecting stories about food and people and coming together. Including twenty-six lyrical essays (and recipes!) that range from deeply personal humorous, it is the very best of food writing. 

Kitchen Shelf Classics:

Table For Two by Bre Graham

Love Is A Pink Cake by Claire Ptak 

Mezcala by Ixta Belfrage 

Simple by Ottolengi 

The Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones

Notes from a Small Kitchen Island by Debora Robertson

Bitter Honey: Recipes and Stories from the Island of Sardinia by Letitia Clark 

Final notes:

The warmer months offer a unique and beautiful opportunity to gather, and sometimes the most spontaneous of plans can make for the longest lasting memories. 

We’ll be repeating this mantra by Bre Graham in all our summer hosting endeavours: 

“You can put more love into anything by giving it the care and attention it needs, even just lighting a candle and putting on a good album transforms the experience of eating.”