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Seems like only yesterday I was whining about the snow and cold, and now Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Okay, truth is, two weeks ago, it was snowing at our place, but now it is green and beautiful. Perfect for a holiday get together and weekend cookout.


Here are my tips for successful summer entertaining.

Keep it simple. Good food and drink, fun people, great music are the ingredients to a great party.

…or charcuterie for you fancy people. The formula – one hard cheese, one soft cheese and one stinky cheese. Add some artisanal dry salami and/or prosciutto, nuts, olives, some fresh and/or dried fruits and you’ll have yourself one awesome spread. Serve it up with an assortment of crackers, thinly sliced baguette rounds and some nice grainy mustard and fig jam.

A cold and crisp rose is always appropriate, yummy sangria and an offering of interesting craft beers should do the trick on the alcohol side. Add some lightly flavored sodas, homemade lemonade, iced-tea and chilled water and you should have everybody covered.

White Wine Sangria
  • One 750-milliliter bottle Sauvignon Blanc
  • ⅔ cup Grey Goose La Poire Vodka
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • 6 strawberries, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 peaches, sliced ¼ inch thick (apples work great here too)
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced crosswise
  • a handful of grapes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a pitcher.
  2. Add a teaspoon or two of honey or sugar to adjust the sweetness.
  3. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Serve over ice


Making the basics and asking guests to bring something to grill and a sweet ensures that all of the unique dietary requirements are covered (we are notorious in Boulder for our food proclivities and exclusions – gluten-free, sugar free, non-dairy, vegan, paleo, “I’d love to have a bite, but I’m on a detox-living-on-air program”).

Fire-cracker Salad
Mango & Fennel Citrus Salad
Sweet Cherry & Arugula Salad
California Salad
Kale & Apple Chopped Salad
Spicy Thai Noodle Salad
Italian White & Green Bean Salad
Spanish Potato Salad

Salad collage

Always have a sweet-smoky-tangy bbq sauce, mayo, mustard, and ketchup available.

Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce
Serves: 2½ cups
  • 1½ cups ketchup
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or put through a press
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. Taste and season with additional cayenne, salt and pepper as necessary.
  3. Let sit at least 4 hours before serving.


pink and orage flowers copy

Clean your home and add flowers. Seriously, a couple of beautiful bouquets can pretty anything up. They don’t have to be expensive – a mason jar with a handful of wildflowers will look lovely. I’m also a big believer in making sure guests feel welcome in my home. Toothpaste splattered on the bathroom mirror sends the message loud and clear that you just didn’t care enough.

There’s nothing like music to set the tone of a party. Skip the disco and head-banging tunes for another evening, or at least until later in the night, and go with some upbeat ambient background music. There are some great acoustic guitar and Latin music choices that fills the air space well and puts people into a relaxed and convivial mood.

Skip the stilettos and all-white attire and go for comfortable and festive. I always end up wearing some of the food I’m making so I go for prints and color. Keep it cool, comfy and cute – Hawaiian shirts and topsiders or a pretty sundress and flats are perfect!

Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend and take a moment to reflect and honor of all of the beautiful and brave souls who have protected our country so valiantly.

Happy Memorial Day!


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