Summer Fun BBQ

I love me a good party. Most of all, I love planning them. I think through and yes, even obsess over every little detail: the menu, the decorations, the theme, the color scheme (yep, my parties all have a color scheme), and most of all, the dessert. I’m not sure how I discovered my party planning prowess, but I suspect it came about from planning our wedding.

In any case, last weekend Dan’s side of the family came over for a combination of celebrations. On the docket to celebrate: belated Father’s Day, our niece’s second birthday (we were in San Francisco during her big family party), and Dan’s parents’ wedding anniversary.

With no one specific theme to cling to, I decided that an overall “Classic Summer Fun” theme would be the best way to tackle 3 very different celebratory occasions. Here’s how it looked when everything came together.
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First thing, it had to be inside. We didn’t have the outdoor space. Oh how I wish we had a backyard! In any case, we made it work by using the kitchen as the sort of staging area for food prep, and we served it all in the dining room, which was the main area we decorated. I love how the sidebar area came out. So happy and playful in those sharp summer colors.

Let’s start with the decorations. I worked the color scheme from a tablecloth I had that just screamed “SUMMER” to me. From there, I settled on the color scheme – yellow, coral, and aqua. I stumbled upon the printable wall sign on a blog I read, and that gave me the idea for the bunting. Things were coming together!

I really liked the bunting I made. It was super easy too and added a fun color pop. What do you think it’s made from? You’ll never guess.
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Paint chips! All I did was measure an inch onto each paint chip, and draw a line from there to the center of the bottom of the paint chip. There’s your flag! I cut them out and cut a piece of jute twine to hang the flags. I used a hole punch to create holes on the flag and strung them onto the twine rope, using some tape to secure them in place. I think it looks quite festive.

Another fun decoration I made were the centerpieces. Following this tutorial, I made 3 aqua colored pinwheels. I added a small punch out in a flower shape to the center. To complete the classic look, I bunched up yellow tissue paper and put one pinwheel in each of three small mason jars. For the final touch, I tied a piece of twine around the top of each jar. After the party, I put them in my bookshelf as sort of a summer decoration, so they didn’t go to waste.

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To help with clean up, I bought some plastic plates in yellow and placed those on the table. I didn’t want to be super wasteful though, so I used real silverware. To keep the table from looking too formal, I tied a plain paper napkin around a knife and fork and secured it with a piece of twine. I loved the rustic look.

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Speaking of rustic, what’s this old 6 pack holder doing on the table? I turned it into a condiment caddy. I Mod Podged every surface of it to make it water resistant (due to the condensation on the ketchup, mustard, and relish), and it became a handy way to carry everything to the table.

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On to the food! Our menu tried to reflect our theme – Classic Summer Fun. We had dishes that have been staples at BBQs since people started having BBQs – potato salad, burgers, brats, hot dogs, corn on the cob, summer pizza, chips and dip, watermelon, peach pie with ice cream, and a special birthday cake for the birthday girl.

We didn’t want to have everything be old recipes we’ve had since we were kids, but we did make a few family favorites. I took two recipes straight from Dan’s mom – the summer pizza and the ice cream. When her boys were in the process of moving out of their childhood home, she pulled together the top recipes her boys loved and turned them into a mini cookbook. How cute was that?

I also included a dip recipe that my cousin introduced to my family and was a hit. She entrusted me with her recipe, but you won’t be seeing how to make it on here. I was sworn to secrecy.

To put our own spin on classic summer food, we switched up the potato salad recipe. Dan used a recipe he found online that didn’t have green onion or egg in it – two things both his family recipe and my family recipe had. He also used whole grain dijon mustard instead of the plain stuff.

For dessert, I tried a new recipe. I wanted to make a peach pie, but lately I’ve been into making single portion sized desserts. This recipe for summer peach pie twisters inspired me. I bought pre-made pie crust and cut one sheet of it into 6 pieces. I cut up about 2 peaches, stirred those with 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch with the juice of half a lemon, and finally added about a teaspoon of cinnamon. Then, I added the peach filling to each of the six pieces. I folded each piece of crust into a sort of cone shape with the filling inside and crimped the edge closed with a fork. I cooked all six of the twisters on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. I served them with homemade vanilla ice cream, which was also a family recipe.

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Quick food tip, I’ve thrown a few parties where I’ve forgotten to put out one of the dishes I’ve made. Since then, I got smart and started going off of a list. Usually, it’s on paper, but this time, we made use of the chalkboard in the kitchen. We had a column to make sure we made it, and one to check that we actually served it.

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That takes us to the end of the party. To end the celebration, we brought out the birthday cake we made for Taylor and sang to her. She liked it.

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You may not be able to tell by scale, but this is a super tiny cake. I tried to figure out how to make it, since the smallest cake pan I had was an 8-inch round. I knew that would be too big in diameter and not tall enough. I looked all around my kitchen and tried to figure out what else I could use short of buying a new pan. I ended up using a small casserole dish from Crate & Barrel, which turned out to be the perfect size. I used a ton of non-stick cooking spray on it, and the  cake slid right out once it cooled. Hey, you have to use what you got! I was quite proud at my resourcefulness.

Finally, I thought I’d talk about the little extras we had going on. Dan made a playlist on his computer full of upbeat songs and songs from the past (to go with the “classic” theme). Also, I had some fun things for Taylor to play with while she was over so she would be entertained. It’s amazing how much fun a little kid things sidewalk chalk and bubbles are.

In the end, we had a great time just being together, and I had many complements on how cute everything was. I’m glad everyone had fun.

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