Appetizers & Dips, Party

easy entertaining: small bites & sparklers

For my 33rd birthday – oof, where did my twenties go again? – I wanted a celebration that was low-stress, preferably outdoors, and of course full of yummy food. I decided to set up a simple, intimate gathering in my backyard with some of my very best pals and some of my favorite foods that I could serve with little or no cook time. I decorated with my favorite brightly colored flowers, lots of candle-light and some colorful string pennants. And what really added to this little soiree was that some of my wonderful friends gave me sparklers and neon bracelets that ended up being the hit of the night and had us twirling all over the backyard like we were kids again – but more on that later – let’s talk food!



First, we put out a crazy meat spread full of the very best Gene’s Sausage Shop had to offer. This was fun to go shopping for and to set up, especially because you can sneak samples as you go. Everyone seemed to have fun sampling and noshing on this all night, I’d do this again in a heartbeat.



We also put out a tasty cheese spread, which was the great compliment to all of the spicy, salty, smokey meats. The Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog was one of my favorites. We served sliced and toasted french bread and a few of our favorite crackers.


To balance out the cholesterol of the table, I thought it might be nice to offer up a fresh veggie, so to keep things simple I just sliced up a variety of colorful tomatoes and topped with salt, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. So easy!


Dave also marinated olives in olive oil, lemon juice and thyme. Yes, the sign says “Dave marinated these bad boys!” – give credit where you can! They were delicious and added a touch of homemade to the spread.


I also put out a couple favorite preserves, both apricot and fig, which were delicious with the soft cheeses.

Last I also served my favorite blue cheese and bacon dip , which had the bowl licked clean by the end of the night. I also made this red wine sangria, which was my favorite red sangria to date (the pomegranate juice is the key me thinks). Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures because we were having too much fun drinking it! HA! #Bloggerproblems and the sign of a good night.

Overall this little shindig ended up being one of my favorites that I’ve thrown. It was so nice to not be running in and out of a kitchen or tending to a grill all night. Being able to just set up and enjoy all the great company was perfection. I think a repeat for 34 will definitely be in order.

And a HUGE THANK YOU I have to give is to the very talented Dana Juhász Ardell who took ALL of the photos you see on this post, because she’s amazingly awesome.

Alright y’all, I have to end this post with a picture of all the sparklers and people (Dana included, behind the lens) who made the night so fun. Thanks dudes and cheers!


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