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Summer Entertaining

Summer Entertaining Ideas for Dinner Parties


Summer weather calls for evenings in the backyard, refreshing beverages, and memorable moments with friends. Let your event be a stress-free hit by following our six summer entertaining tips for throwing a great dinner party. From a build-your-own taco and sangria bar to post-dinner games, you are just a few steps away from the perfect evening with your favorite people!

Guests cheersing wine glasses at a dinner party

Our Top Summer Entertaining Tips

  1. Serve Lighter Fare

Instead of serving a four-course meal, serve lighter dishes like: hors d’oeuvres, assorted veggies with dip, or lighter meats and seafood (think chicken and shrimp). Keeping the meal lighter will help your guests stay satiated, but not overly full – and they’ll be much more inclined to stick around after the meal.

  1. Give Your Guests a Create-Your-Own Option

While you may be excited to serve a signature dish or drink, it might not fit everyone’s tastes and preferences. Consider setting up a buffet bar so that guests can customize their meals. One great buffet option is to build a taco bar with various meats, vegetables, and toppings, and pair it with a sangria bar. Giving guests the ability to not only build their own tacos, but also customize their drinks, will leave them feeling like they were involved in the process.

A Sangria bar for a Summer Dinner Party

What You Need for a Summer Sangria Bar

  • A few bottles of red, white, and rosé wines
  • A bottle or two of brandy
  • A few bottles of fruit juice such as: pineapple, orange, cranberry, or apple juice
  • A few bottles of Seltzer water (consider fruit infused flavors)
  • A small bowl of sugar
  • Sliced fruits like strawberries, lemons, blackberries, raspberries, pineapples, etc.
  • Ice
  • Cups
  • Stir sticks or spoons

Sangria Recipes


  1. Offer Crowd Pleasers

If you’d rather not go through the process of setting up a customizable drink bar, then plan to serve something your guests know and love. Rosés are a great option since they are not only well-known, but taste great with a variety of foods. Pinot Grigios and Sauvignon Blancs are equally wonderful, light options for warm summer evenings. If your guests will be up and moving around, consider serving wine in cans!A couple of great wines for dinner parties

  1. Let Your Décor Set the Mood & Make it Comfortable

Whether your event has a theme or it’s a blissfully relaxed dinner party, decorations add a fun touch to any gathering. Some tried and true decorations we love include candles, flowers (particularly lavender), and string lights. Warm lighting and soothing smells set the tone and can help your guests feel at home. Similarly, your furnishings should make them feel relaxed and comfortable. Provide cushioned seats, blankets for cooler evenings, or fans if it’s warm. If the environment is perfect, your guests will want to stay longer!

A tablescape incorporating Summer Entertaining Tips from AVA Grace Vineyard

  1. Prepare for Bad Weather

While summer is synonymous with sunshine, there is always the chance of a sudden change in weather. Don’t get caught up in a rainstorm by setting up a canopy tent. There are a variety of elegant canopy tents available for rent or purchase that can help your guests stay dry while keeping your stress at bay. When all else fails: move the party into the garage or living room.

  1. Provide Entertainment

Music is always a great choice for parties, because it keeps the vibe lively and can make guests feel more comfortable. Create a fun playlist and just keep it on in the background throughout the night at a low volume. While the music can be complex, don’t let it be distracting; it should help your guests be at ease, not on edge.

Apart from music, games are also a great way to entertain your guests. Games are a great way to start and end the evening because they serve as icebreakers and conversation starters. Set out card games, board games, or conversation topic cards so that your guests have something to keep them busy while you are handling other event logistics (set up, clean up?). For the outdoorsy type, set up a badminton or volleyball net or a corn hole set in the front yard. Lawn games are a great way to keep guests out of the house (and the kitchen) and are perfect for summer.

Woman laughing while sipping AVA Grace wine cans

Explore Bottles Explore Cans

Do you have summer entertaining ideas to share with the community? Tag us @AVAGraceVineyards and #AVAGraceVineyards!

July 24, 2020
Ava Grace Vineyards AVA Grace Vineyards, Livermore, CA
Ava Grace Vineyards

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