Kelsey's Top 3 Summer Entertaining Tips

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Summer entertaining is my favorite kind of entertaining — it's relaxed, laid-back and easy-breezy. I recently hosted a summer soiree to celebrate my son Oliver's first birthday (in real life, not on Kelsey's Essentials!). It was one of the first parties I threw this summer, and we all had a blast. No party is ever perfect, but I feel that this one was a success because I followed a few essential summer entertaining tips.

1. Take advantage of the season and host summer get-togethers outdoors.

Spending time outdoors on a cool summer night with friends and family is the best, whether you're in an outdoor public park or space (I love this local  picnic peninsula) or you're enjoying a more private setting, like a rooftop or a backyard. It makes hosting easier, too, since you don't have to feel like your apartment or home needs to be in party-ready condition before your guests arrive. We utilized our building rooftop for Oliver's big first birthday party; it was a great space that was large enough for our guests to sprawl out, and it allowed the kids to run around and color with sidewalk chalk. The bonus? An amazing skyline backdrop.

2. Work with fresh foods that will hold up well in the heat.

When it comes to menu planning, think about recipes that can be made in advance and options that don't need to be kept warm or cool. Pasta salads, fresh fruit and baked goods are reliable ideas. Also, I always recommend going with tried-and-true recipes for any sort of entertaining. The riskiest thing you can do when hosting a party is to make a recipe for the first time (trust me, I've been there). I went with a bite-sized Mexican menu for Ollie's party that included corn salad, miniature fruit skewers, tiny tacos and birthday cake bites. All of it held up really well and was a hit with both the kids and the parents.

3. Accept a helping hand.

It's easy to get overwhelmed as you're pulling together the last-minute details for a party. Jot down a few tasks that you can delegate to a friend who offers a helping hand. This list will also help you make sure all of the details are taken care of, allowing you to enjoy the party. I asked willing friends to help hang a birthday banner, transport platters of food from our apartment to the rooftop and throw some ice over drinks in a cooler. Anticipating the tasks that you'll need help with at the last minute will make accepting help so much easier.

(Want some ideas for summer party menus? Check out the recipes from some entertaining-focused episodes of Kelsey's Essentials: On the Go Grilling, Classic BBQ, Mexican Meal, Picnic Party, Easy Summer Cooking, Backyard Feast with Friends and Small Plate Party.)

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes posts from Kelsey Nixon every Wednesday, and tune into new episodes of Kelsey's Essentials every Wednesday night on Cooking Channel at 8pm ET. Find all the recipes from Kelsey's Essentials here.

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