PROJECT DESIGN: Simple Summer Entertaining Tips

Hello and welcome to another Project Design, 
and I invite other bloggers to share their ideas and tips.  
And today it's all about 
Simple Summer Entertaining!
We recently had a little birthday party 
for my husband, Howard, in my sister, 
Teresa's backyard in San Diego.

We stay with Teresa and my mom a lot...
and I usually try to think of something nice to do for them.
In this case, I knew Teresa had a black and white umbrella on her patio so I picked up some pillows from Target for a little refresh...
 While shopping for menu ingredients, the mangos were on sale so I bought several along with limes to send home as party favors.  I put them in these $2 baskets from Michael's.


  1.    Create a simple theme  I thought "birthday" and mangos were on the menu...so I used them to decorate, too, like in this centerpiece and for the party favors.

2.  Plan the menu and shop ahead (duh...you knew that right?).

3.  VERY important...delegate.  People like to be involved.

4.  Make it self service.  We served the salad but set up a food table for the rest.

5.  Take shortcuts where you can with store bought items, like dessert.
In delegating, our son Tommy did all the grilling 
and daughter, Alie made the drinks.

 Backyard Birthday Party Menu
Slightly Mexican Influenced, 
As hey, It's San Deeahgo

Ruffles and French Onion Dip 
By Teresa
(Come on...who doesn't love this)

and thin slices of jalapeño if you want spicier
Salad Greens with Pine nuts and Lemon Vinaigrette
with Grilled French Bread Topped 
with Store Bought Pesto Sauce and Burrata Cheese
Assortment of Grilled Vegetables 
Drizzled with Balsamic
Marinated Grilled Sliced Flank Steak
Red Velvet Cake and Ice Cream
Bought by Teresa from Nothing Bundt Cakes
This IS a birthday party.
Specifically requested by Howard and made by Alie with
I picked the purple blossoms from a bush in Teresa's garden
...I highly recommend looking around for what you already have.
 Party hats optional...
Our view at dinner...
  Oh YES...
Tip  #6 Ask Someone to Make a Party Music List
In our case, Tommy made a great list of Howard's old favorites and new songs.  Later, we were all dancing (including the dogs) around the fire pit...but the photos are too embarrassing to show.

We also just had a fun, casual French themed party in San Francisco... so, I will be showing that post soon (the napkins for it were sponsored by Minted. ...and gave me inspiration).

I am so excited see what these creative bloggers post!!!

PS.  We are headed to Sicily with a big group of family and friends.  
You can see our adventures on Instagram. 


  1. I'm so there with a margarita shakin my thing around the firepit, mary ann. Love how you set that table and used contrasting napkins! And I love the self-service tip because...simple! p.s. sorry about my link fail...this one should work fine: http://www.hellolovelystudio.com/2017/06/come-enjoy-cupcakes-and-cocktails-in-my.html Traveling mercies, and peace to you right where you are, friend. Thanks for including me in this awesome lineup!

    1. HAHAHA... you should have been with us Michele! I want to be at YOUR party. I'm in LAX now...getting excited for our trip.

  2. Looks like a really fun birthday party with beautiful tablesetting and delicious food. Loved the picture of the three dogs, too cute.

    1. Thanks, Kathysue...you know they only kept the hats on for a few seconds!

  3. I'll be hosting a birthday party for my husband in mid July so all of your tips and menu ideas are most welcome at a very opportune time. Your party looks wonderful. Happy belated birthday to Howard. And by the way, your kids are adorable.

    1. Thanks, Celia. I'm sure your husband's party will be fab and I hope you put it on your blog!

  4. Everything looks pretty amazing and I'm going to HAVE TO check your recipes out!

    1. Try the margs at your beach house, Janet!

  5. I love black and white in the garden. Your children are at the right age where they can do something useful: cook and make cocktails. All of those years of care taking are finally paying off! Love the dogs in hats and the idea of dogs dancing the night away. Have a wonderful time on your trip. The capers are so supposed to be fantastic in Sicily!

  6. Iam cringing at STORE BOUGHT PESTO!Remind me to send you home with some made by the ITALIAN!
    I am smiling at the dinner feast as another Blogger posted THAT dinner too!I MUST TRY IT!WE ate SKIRT steak last night!Love that cut..........
    Off you GO.......for FUN< TONS OF INSPIRATION................and RELAXATION!!!

    1. Yes...The Italian's pesto would be a big improvement!! But this was supposed to be easy :)

  7. It looks very pretty and your menu sounds delicious. I could go for a paleta right now. It's been so hot!

  8. Looks so fun and delicious. I agree with you that simple entertaining is the best. And how'd you get those balloons to fly over for the party? ;)

  9. What a beautiful party Mary Ann! But I'm not surprised, you always do things to perfection! You had great ideas to share and I'm putting them in my party file for future use. The pic of chief and pals is priceless! Hope you have a wonderful vacation! Can't wait to see what great places you'll be blogging about!
    Happy summer!
    xo Gail

  10. Everything looks pretty amazing and I'm going to HAVE TO check your recipes out!


It's SO nice to hear from you!