Now that summer parties are in full swing, I’m taking tips from recent gatherings and other outings for the get-togethers we hope to host this season.

First there was my friend’s legendary Cinco de Mayo celebration that takes on a life of its own even though it happens on a weekday afternoon. Due to her hectic schedule, she decided to handle the planning but have the party at a friend’s house in the same neighborhood.  

Although my back had gone out the week before, I was determined to attend. I ended up staying so long I made up for the fact that I hadn’t left my house for a week.

These avid entertainers know how to keep it simple with a few tasty Mexican dishes and the other items that people brought to share.

Teaming up lightened their workload, while a colorful theme and cast of characters coming and going kept the atmosphere spontaneous and fun.

Next was a Mother’s Day barbecue at another friend’s house where she performed her usual magic act. No one saw her make the amazing food that suddenly appeared buffet-style on the kitchen counter alongside some cute oval-shaped paper plates from Sam’s Club.




I must have been distracted by that fabulous cocktail she mixed before dinner. If there’s anything better than the meal we had, it’s the fact that everyone goes home with leftovers.

A week later we visited some old friends in their new house where we admired their open layout and their outdoor space filled with compact furniture from Costco that was a perfect fit for their patio.

In the kitchen, a corner cabinet that came with a Lazy Susan now holds their extensive selection of wine and champagne glasses, a great idea that shows you have to do what’s right for you.

This way of thinking had me rearranging my own kitchen cabinets.

The fact that our friends served a variety of appetizers meant that we opted to skip our original dinner plans. With sushi and shrimp and chips and dips followed by dessert, we all felt we had more than enough food.

This reminds me that I shouldn’t always feel compelled to serve a main course, especially during the summer months when lighter fare seems to be the best fit. Also, there’s nothing like cold food on a hot day.

A recent dinner at a restaurant in Rochester had me thinking about the increasing popularity of charcuterie boards. This is something that’s easy to create at home with some meats and cheeses and olives and nuts. The presentation is so appetizing and the diverse selection does not disappoint.

Sometimes a pizza is all you need in a pinch, which is what I ordered for my daughter and her friend who were heading to a concert. A few days later, at an after-school surprise party arranged by classmates for another friend of hers, all it took was a birthday cake to make everyone happy.

Whatever you serve this summer, everything tastes better in someone’s home. Besides, in between nibbles and sips, people can see what entertaining, organizing and decorating ideas they’d like to steal.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at



Read or Share this story: