How to Put on the Perfect Outdoor Spread and Become the Hostess With the Mostest This Summer
Whether you’re known for your hosting chops, or have decided this summer, will be yours to impress your friends with your culinary curation and Champagne-popping finesse, we have some tried and tested advice for you. Being a great hostess, especially in summer, doesn’t mean you have to be a great cook, nor a wine sommelier, nor the owner of a palatial home. With just a few great hosting tools, a nose for creating a vibe and a good mix of friends, you can be a next-gen Martha Stewart. Here’s how to do it.
‘Casual’ Needs Careful Planning
There is one thing that can quickly ruin the vibe of a gathering, and that’s a host flapping around the kitchen, stressed, sweating and clearly not having a good time. Never forget, your guests are there to see you. So when planning a soirée, cut away what can’t be prepared before people arrive, outsource (asking guests to contribute something only gives them a vested interest in the event, it’s not a burden), and give yourself time to enjoy the event too.
If you are going to be spending time in the kitchen during the event, don’t tell your guests to move on when they inevitably wander in to chat to you and offer to help. Let them stay, give them a job. Who doesn’t love a group activity?
Keep It Chill
Temperature is as important a feature in a glass of wine as the grapes it’s made from. If you’re planning an alfresco meal away from home, but want to travel light, i.e. sans cooler, pour your wine into an insulated bottle, like the Insulated Wine Set, created in collaboration with Aussie artist Rach Jackson. It keeps things cold for 24 hours, and paired with the Maxwell & Williams x Rach Jackson Insulated Tumbler, your Chardonnay will be as chilled in 30-degree temps, three hours from the fridge as it would be if you’d just taken it out of a bucket of ice. Something your guests will thank you for, probably several times over.
You Can Plan a Pretty Picnic
It’s easy to create an aesthetically-pleasing picnic with the right items, and from picnic tables with etching, to blankets, glasses, plates and bowls, Maxwell & Williams products can help you make the perfect spread. Rach Jackson Rock Garden Folding Picnic Blanket is the perfect starting point. Generous in size (150 x 200cm), it folds up to be easily transported. Its design, by artist Rach Jackson, uses layered colours and bold summer motifs.
Next, grab The Blck Pen Golden Summer Round Folding Picnic Table to setup your spread, Rach Jackson Rock Graden Melamine Plate (set of 4) to serve your snacks and Rach Jackson Rock Garden Melamine Tumbler (set of 4) for drinks. The Rach Jackson collection also features salad servers, a serving tray, a jug and even a picnic cooler bag so you can easily transport your nibbles and drinks.
Know the Anatomy of a Cheese Board
As the saying goes, “buy on apples, sell on cheese.” Quick explainer: eating apples while you drink brings out the faults in the wine, while cheese smooths out any flaw ‘til it’s barely perceivable. Rules to live by as a hostess with the mostest.
When arranging a cheese board, don’t add apple slices. A cheese board has a formula: one soft cheese (perhaps camembert or brie), one firm (a cheddar or gouda), one hard (like parmesan). Serve with an option of bread and crackers. And rather than trying to bring lots of little additions like olives and sun
There’s one definite rule of a cheese board, and that’s that you need an actual board. If you’re setting up somewhere without a table, the Maxwell & Williams Folding Picnic Table is money very well spent, with a place even to put your wine. The table was created in collaboration with Sydney artist Neha Gupte who goes by ‘The Blck Pen’. Gupte has a background as an illustrator and textile print designer, and, for her work with Maxwell & Williams, she explores the botanical world with a touch of whimsy.
Make Everyone Feel Welcome
There’s a simple way to make people feel at ease and make sure an event runs smoothly, and that’s by pre-empting needs. This doesn’t mean prepping harder, just smarter. Make sure you have a delicious non-alc drink option, cater to dietary needs and think about comfort: do you need to add an umbrella to give people extra shade? Sunscreen? Mozzie repellent? No bug, sun or food allergies should ever be allowed to rain on your hosting parade.