10 tips for a great porch party
10 tips for a great porch party
When someone mentions a porch party...immediately the soundtrack from Animal House begins to play in my head...I get flashbacks from my college days of red plastic cups, kegs, folding lawn chairs, beer pong, and blaring music...Thank goodness we've grown up... Right?!
Porch parties are a fun way to bring people together
Porch parties are a fun way to bring people together, whether it's friends, neighbors or a graduation celebration. It helps to have a porch, but you don't need one, a patio, deck, or front yard will work just as well.
Memorial day is just around the corner
I've been thinking of starting a neighborhood porch party. I've been in my neighborhood for a little over a year, and this would be an easy way to get to know more of my neighbors.
Start a neighborhood porch party
First: Pick a day and time that you think will work best for most people, for example, every Friday from 6-8pm, weather permitting.
Second: Circulate a sign-up list amongst your friends/neighbors for hosting.
The ground rules: The weekly host will provide the porch or patio, and food, and neighbors will bring their own drinks (booze). Easy right!
10 tips for a great porch party
This is important ... KEEP IT SIMPLE! ... no need to go crazy... its summer ... so relax a little.
1. easy access
Make sure your guest know where to enter your party. It may seem obvious to you but it may not to others. Signs and balloons can help with this. Nothing is worse than knowing you are at the right house but not knowing how to get to the party!
2. prep the bar cart
Even though you've asked your neighbors to bring their own drinks, not everyone will or be able to especially if they are coming directly from work.
So be prepared with a few of the basics such as...cups, ice, corkscrews, bottle openers, and cocktail napkins. Not everyone will want to drink booze so include a few non-alcoholic options like tea, seltzer water, juices, and fruit-infused waters.
Make sure you have lots of fun garnishes like lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, plenty of ice, as well as an insulated ice bucket, with tongs or a scoop for serving.
No bar? No problem!
Any table can become a serving station. If you're not happy with the look of the table your using - through a white tablecloth on top and you are good to go!
3. lot's of seating
Not everyone will want to stand the entire evening so chairs, benches, stairs and even railings can help with this. Folding chairs are great if the party spills out onto your patio or yard.
4. set a table
People will either gather near the bar or the food. There is no need to set a formal table, but a pretty table is a must! Make it easy to grab a plate, a napkin, and some silverware.
It doesn't take much to make a pretty table. A tablecloth, (white if you have it) a few candles, and some pretty flowers (hydrangeas are my favorite) are all it takes.
5. keep it cool and easy
Have a menu that doesn't need heating. You don't want to spend your time running back and forth from the kitchen. Here's a list of some easy porch party foods.
chips and salsa
fruit salad with dipping sauce
pimento cheese dip served with crackers or ginger snaps
spiced shrimp cocktail
slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches on mini buns
chicken salad with or without white house rolls
cookies (any variety)
lemon bars (my favorite)
(Recipies are at the end!)
Many of these items you can pick up directly from the store so no need to spend hours in the kitchen cooking unless you want to! Make sure you transfer the food to your own serving dishes. It just looks better.
6. trash cans
Make sure your trash can is visible. People need to know where to through there trash. You can use pop-up hampers lined with trash bags secured with clips or galvanized cans with lids. Whatever you choose, just make sure to have a ton of trash bags.
Be prepared! Everyone hates them, so stock up on citronella candles, fly swatters and bug wipes for your guest. If you have a ceiling fan on your porch go ahead and turn it on, it not only provides a cool breeze but will also help to keep mosquitos away.
Clean your bathrooms like there is no tomorrow and make sure they are full of toilet paper. At some point, every one of your guests may take a visit.
More than likely half of your guest will be kids. So make sure you have some kid-appropriate foods and drinks. Some yard activities to keep them busy wouldn't hurt either. These games are fun for adults too.
pull out a ping-pong table onto your driveway
have some sidewalk chalk
bubbles are always fun
frisbees or footballs (as long as you have a ton of room and don't think people or cars will get hit)
I would stay clear of croquette. Kids are too tempted to swing the mallets like golf clubs.
Set the mood! It's not a party without some music, so put on a fun playlist or pull out a guitar. There are no rules as to what you should play. So play what you like.
Keep your setup quick and simple!
The point of a porch party is to socialize with your friends and neighbors, not to get all STRESSED out. So take a deep breath and let's jump into summer together.
SPICED SHRIMP COCKTAIL IN MINUTES
1 Pound Bag Frozen JUMBO Shrimp (Tail On, Easy Peel)
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup White Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
Place frozen shrimp in a colander and run cold water over it for 5 minutes.
Mix water, vinegar, and seasoning.
Bring to a boil; add shrimp then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Strain and serve hot or chilled with cocktail sauce.
NOTE: It's just as easy to fix more than 1 pound at a time too...just double or triple the shrimp, water, vinegar, and seasoning.
ALMOST LIKE HOME (UKROP’S) CHICKEN SALAD
3 Boneless Chicken Breast
1 Chicken Boullion Cube
2-3 Finely Chopped Celery Stalk (small pieces)
1/2 Finely Chopped Small Sweet Onion (amount should equal or be less than the celery - a little will go a long way!)
1 Cup Duke's Mayonnaise ** * No substitutes***
3/4 Cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise *** No substitutes***
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Celery Salt
Salt & Pepper To Taste
Poach chicken in water seasoned with bouillon cube, salt, and pepper. Do not boil, just simmer until done. Don’t drain. Cover pan and allow the chicken to completely cool. (I put the chicken and the liquid in the fridge overnight)
When cool, drain and discard liquid. Pat chicken dry with paper towels then shred with a fork. (shredding the chicken will give the salad a finer texture than chopping; I find it easier to eat on rolls this way)
Mix both mayos together with celery salt and onion powder. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside to blend flavors.
Dice celery and onion. Add to shredded chicken and combine.
Mix everything together and refrigerate overnight!
NOTE: The key to this recipe is the mixture of Duke's & Hellmann's mayonnaise. Best if served with White House Rolls
ELISE'S PIMENTO CHEESE: BEST PIMENTO CHEESE EVER!
1 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1, 4oz Jar of Pimentos, Chopped and Drained
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Cup Duke's Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Durkee Sauce (you can find this is in the mayo section at Kroger)
3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier Liqueur *
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Pound Sharp Cheddar, Grated (Yellow or White)
Serve with Anna's ginger Swedish thins (ginger snap cookies)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except cheese.
Add grated cheese.
Mix everything together and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.
Serve with ginger snap cookies or savory wafers.
NOTE: * This is the key ingredient that makes the difference!