Impromptu entertaining is fun when you are well prepared. Keep these
items on hand for quick meals during the summer:
• A couple of good bottled mari- • A loaf of garlic bread, frozen
nades for chicken, beef or fish • Parmesan cheese
• Individually wrapped, frozen bone- • Two quarts of your favorite
less chicken breasts, small steaks, ice cream
seasoned hamburger patties • Graham cracker or chocolate
• Frozen hamburger buns cookie pie shell
• Packaged pasta or rice • Chocolate and caramel sauce
• Packaged salads • Frozen whipped topping
• Toasted pine nuts, made ahead • Emergency munchies: peanuts,
and frozen chili-lime chips, salsa, pretzels, etc.
• Good bottled salad dressings
For the kids, thaw the hamburgers and buns. Toss the burgers on the
grill. Serve with chips and salsa, fresh fruit and cookies.
For the adults, marinate chicken breasts, small steaks or fish (thawed
in the microwave) for about 15 minutes. Grill. Serve with a salad made from
prepackaged greens, adding pine nuts, Parmesan and veggies. Toss with your
favorite dressing. Pop the garlic bread under the broiler.
For dessert, fill a pie shell with softened ice cream and freeze. Serve with
a choice of toppings. Hint: Make a couple of pies ahead of time and freeze
them. Instant dessert!
Now, sit back, take in that fresh summer air, linger around the table with
family and friends, and enjoy! A
TIPS & TRICKS
EASY ENTERTAINING IDEAS
• Pick a theme and colors to carry throughout
your party. Purchase fabrics from outlets,
and design your invitations on your computer, then print them on colored paper.
• Build a beautiful buffet with different
heights. Use metal risers, upturned bowls
or terra-cotta pots, covered with cloths,
to create different levels.
• For larger tables, think big for decoration:
big bowls of lemons; tall vases with
branches towering over the buffet; big
pots of fresh herbs, fruits and flowers;
breads tumbling out of wicker baskets
laid on their sides.
• To create a centerpiece for a sit-down affair,
bring the outdoors in. Arrange branches and
leaves (magnolias work great!) down the
center of the table, creating a garland effect,
then nestle fruits, vegetables and herbs in
and around the leaves. Place votives or tea
light candles in juice glasses and tuck them
into the garland. It’s a great solution if you
are on a budget.
• Try dressing up folding chairs by wrapping
the backs with a complementing fabric
and tie the back with a nosegay of leaves
• Be realistic about what you can and can’t
do. If you are on a tight budget, look around
you—what is seasonal and accessible?
Don’t be afraid to use your imagination.
(A bucket of paint and some old sheets
can create a wonderful table covering. Or
use giant philodendron leaves to decorate.)
Decorations don’t have to be expensive,
but rather a reflection of you having
fun entertaining. A
Costco member Deborah Fabricant owns The Art of Entertaining, a Los Angeles–based
business that brings the easy elegance of entertaining to today’s busy people. She is
also the author of Stacks: The Art of Vertical Food (Ten Speed Press, 1999).