A Backyard Soiree

A wine and hors d’oeuvre party is the perfect summer event. You can do it at home — with a little help from local vendors.

Photography by Jack Foley

You may be right on the water, have views of lighthouses, or boast beautiful gardens overflowing with hydrangeas. You may not. It doesn’t matter. Everybody in Chatham has an excuse for a party. So why not gather your friends and throw one…just because.

The following ideas—from event planner Jamie Bohlin at Cape Cod Celebrations and a team of creative local vendors—are sure to inspire you on any kind of budget.

To set the stage, tables, chairs, wine barrels, mixed china plates, and vintage napkins can be brought in from New England Country Rentals. They provide candle lanterns, too, which are really nice to have on a beautiful evening when the party goes past sunset. All of their unique wares reflect a casual feeling of home rather than a large-scale party.

If your budget doesn’t allow for rentals, bring some of your furniture outdoors, or ask to borrow some items from friends or neighbors to create a comfortable space for your guests. Leave room for guests to sit or stand, and always have a place to put down their drink or plate. Get creative and try and think out of the box to use furniture and décor in ways other than you do in your home.

Florist Patrice Milley put together arrangements in galvanized buckets and mason jars, which were handed out to guests as they left as a parting gift. The flowers had the “just picked from the garden” look, which is a great option for those who can utilize their own personal gardens. It is easy to cut and display fresh flowers in fun and different containers. Look around your house for items that you may not typically use to display flowers like the cookie jar or wine glasses. Think outside of typical vases to bring another element to the look and feel of the evening. If you would rather leave it to the professionals, Patrice can work with your budget and theme to create beautiful displays for your event.

Not every gathering has to be a sit-down dinner with heavy food, drinks and desserts. Keep it to a cocktail hour style and serve the guests a selection of finger foods from Del Mar Bistro and cheese boards from Chatham Cheese Company. With an event with a cocktail hour theme, you can serve any of your selections throughout the evening. Maybe start with the cheeses and wines, then move to seafood and serve the hot selections towards the end of the event.

If you love to cook and make the food on your own, hire someone to come serve and clean up. Your food selections can range from cheeses and crudite to oysters and sliders. Keep your food local, especially if you are showcasing seafood. To display your food, consider a selection of mixed china or all white pieces. Stock up on garnishes such as parsley, thyme, edible flowers or small pansies, citrus or cucumbers. Garnishes will vary on what you plan to serve, but most greens and vegetables are quite versatile.

When entertaining at home, there is no need to have a full bar. Focus on a selection of wines or beers that compliment what you are serving. Chatham Cheese Company has a nice wine selection and can pair their cheeses with, say, a Hook & Ladder red blend, a Joseph Carr chardonnay, or a Zardetto prosecco. For guests who prefer hard alcohol, consider a single signature drink for the evening.

You do not have to go big to impress your guests. Manageable food and small details go a long way, even if it means just pulling your couch out to the lawn for the evening. If you want a little help in making the production go smoother, consult with Cape Cod Celebrations or another independent party planner. The insight they provide could be just the inspiration you need.