When it comes to summer entertaining, the solution is to keep it uncomplicated and provide ambiance.  Worrying too much and overburdening yourself with a complex menu may discourage you from bringing family and friends together.  Ultimately the guests will be in charge of their own merrymaking, your role is to provide atmosphere, a few delicious foods and some good wine.

Picking a theme helps tremendously to focus the décor and menu for any gathering. Searching for these items to stage the party is an enjoyable adventure. This bash started with a $5 material remnant – the royal blue shells on the crisp white background launched the nautical theme.  Inexpensive candle holders that can double as vases and economical wine glasses highlighted with blue came from Pier I.

Look around your house and you will be surprised what you can find to incorporate in your table scape – the conch shells were already part of my décor.  My two dark blue glass apothecary jars become condiment holders.   A mixed bag of sea shells from Home Goods scattered on beautiful royal blue and white Caspari® paper plates and napkins brought it all together.

The highlighted focus was a platter of shrimp with cocktail sauce, an assorted platter of sushi and California rolls served with chopsticks, soy sauce, ginger and wasabi.  Accompany this with crisp baguettes with sea salt infused butter and a summer salad.  Furnish your company with crisp and cold white wine and a mango tea with fresh fruit slices were refreshing.  Finally dessert consisted of a three selections of sherbet in a pale blue glass.

A good host and hostess needs to accommodate any guest with seafood allergies if you are planning a nautical theme. The selections for you to choose from as the main event are endless, lobster rolls, soft shelled crabs, oysters, mussels, clams – to name a few.

Start planning, enjoy creating and enjoy!

-Barbara Esatto, The Chocolate Goddess