Take the Party Outside

When the weather's inviting, host a gathering in the garden. Our do-ahead menu makes it easy.
Cynthia A. Briscoe

You don't need excuses to bring a circle of friends together for an outdoor celebration.

Summer Garden Party
(serves 10 to 12)

I grew up in a family where gatherings were as common as ice cream in the summer, and Mom constantly amazed me with her sense of organization and calm before a party. After years of peeking over her shoulder, I learned her trademark secret--to make ahead and freeze as many recipes as possible. This trick of the trade still works for me today when I plan parties.

We've selected a variety of foods for everyone's taste, from colorful Balsamic Marinated Olives to Chilled Shrimp With Rémoulade Sauce, which is always a crowd pleaser. Even if you're a beginning cook, you'll find the ingredient lists short and the techniques easy. It's okay to mix-and-match these recipes with some of your favorites. Choose your menu early, and set a work schedule that's doable. With your detailed planning, you'll have time to relax and be as fresh as a bouquet of hydrangeas when your guests arrive.