Resourcefulness is one of our five core values at Honest to Goodness which is why we have rounded up 20 unique Summer Essentials resources to help you have exceptional dinners and events this season!
As a woman-owned company based in the great Northwest, our party essentials focus as much as possible on showcasing other female-owned small businesses in our region. The other businesses named here definitely make the cut, though, with what they have to offer. We hope you find some new inspiration to ensure your next dinner party is extra delicious and fun!
**Please note: We are not compensated for recommending any of these companies and do not receive any benefit if you purchase their products other than the satisfaction of knowing you, too, prefer to help small businesses. Thank you in advance for your thoughtfulness and support!
1. Barbecue Rubs
When you decide to have a party, the first thing that comes to mind is what kind of food you want to serve. Of course, pretty much every Summer menu includes something from the grill. Brush off the barbie and spice up your menu with BBQ Rubs and Global Spice Blends from World Spice Merchants. Unless you like to play mad scientist in the kitchen by concocting your own blends, these rubs make it so easy to add interesting and even exotic flavors to your food with just 1 jar of something unique.
2. Old-World Style Salami
You’ve seen them all over TikTok and Instagram. Now, create your own epic charcuterie grazing boards with a Flagship Salami Sampler Pack from Coro by Salumi! Our chefs have built many a board, small and large, with sliced salami, prosciutto, dried fruits and nuts, grissini breadsticks, fresh fruit, and so much more! The variety of flavors available in this sampler pack will have your guests savoring each scrumptious taste. We recommend ordering 1 sampler pack for every 10-12 guests you are hosting.
3. Oysters on the Half Shell, the easy way!
This Frozen Top-Off Baked/Grilled Oyster Kit from Taylor Shellfish takes the fear-factor out of shucking your own oysters. Your kit arrives frozen with easy instructions for thawing before you enjoy raw, barbecued, or baked. As an extra bonus, you’ll receive a flavored butter to serve with your oysters.
Chef’s Tip: If you eat your oysters raw, be sure to serve atop crushed ice which you can get from your local grocery store in the seafood department.
4. Edible Flowers
Edible flowers from specialty stores like Metropolitan Market and PCC add exquisite accents to appetizers, brunch, dinner, dessert, and drinks! Flowers commonly included in the mix are pansies, marigolds, mini roses, nasturtium, chrysanthemum, micro dianthus, and orchids. Serve the flowers whole or gently separate the petals to sprinkle on your dishes.
5. Anything from your Farmers Market
Summer abounds with so many seasonal fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready to live out their glory in your party menu. Farmers Markets are one of our favorite things about this time of year because you can find so many beautiful foods that are so much fresher than what you get at the grocery store. In addition to fresh produce, you’ll find all sorts of other fun goodies like farm cheeses, local honey, infused oils and vinegars, smoked seafood, humanely-raised animal protein, baked goods, and more. This handy guide will help you find a Farmers Market near you no matter where you live in the US. While you’re shopping, maybe you’ll meet some new neighbors to invite to your next backyard bash!
6. Pretty in Pink Chocolate
All it takes is a click of your ruby red slippers to make a show-stopping dessert with “Ruby” Chocolate Chips from The Chocolate Man. This product is certainly not white chocolate mixed with red food coloring. The ruby cocoa beans are sustainably sourced from Ecuador, Brazil, and the Ivory Coast. This chocolate has an intense berry flavor and slightly sour profile that makes it versatile to use in all kinds of confections and cakes.
A couple recipes we love are Ruby Chocolate Rocky Road or No-Bake Ruby Chocolate Cheesecake. Ruby chocolate is sensitive to light, air, and moisture, so be sure to store it in its original packaging until you are ready to use it.
7. Beat-the-Heat Summer Sippers
Our Summer refreshment wine pick this season is the 2021 Albariño from Elsom Cellars. Pop open a bottle to pair perfectly with Northwest oysters like the kit from Taylor Shellfish mentioned above in Essential #3. The crisp tropical notes in this Washington wine from the Yakima Valley also complement fresh goat cheese or aged hard gouda which you can label with Essential #15.
8. Gourmet Syrups for Cocktails and Mocktails
Nurture nature as you nurse your cocktail or mocktail made all the better by Meadowland Simple Syrups. In addition to the clever flavor combinations designed to root us in the natural world, we love the labels! Whether you mix up your own drinks or set these syrups out at the bar for guests to create their own drink of choice, you can’t go wrong with these whistle-wetting whimsies!
9. Shrubs Aren’t Just for Landscaping
For something sweet and spicy, shake up this Chili Lime Tomato Shrub from Girl Meets Dirt. Handmade on Orcas Island, this syrup is created using a colonial-era method for preserving fruit juice. Add to your Bloody Mary, Michelada, Margarita, Cubanita, or even just plain ol’ seltzer water.
10. Keep Your Cool
Keep your wine cool no matter the weather with a Waterfall Marble Wine Chiller from BeHome. This tabletop chiller that is sustainably sourced from India will save you multiple trips to the wine fridge by having your wine within arms reach. We choose this design for its uniqueness in color over the standard white or grey stone or stainless steel wine chillers you can find elsewhere. You want your table to stand out from others, right?
11. Printed Stationary
Whether you’re planning a big shindig or want to add simple, sophisticated flair to your table, we love working with Perfect Press to design and print custom party invites, menu cards, and name cards. Think about how special you would feel if you showed up to a friend’s house and they had a name card just for you at your place setting. It’s those little touches, you know?
12. Fresh Flowers
A gorgeous floral centerpiece from DeLaurenti Florist makes a dazzling, seasonal statement at your table every time. Choose either one “long and low” piece or 2-3 smaller accent arrangements as shown here that won’t get in the way of everyone’s eye contact. You could even tuck into or place on top the napkins smaller, individual stemmed flowers as a sweet and simple touch.
13. Spark and Soothe the Senses
You don’t need to have or use a fire pit at your event to enjoy a warm glow with your group. Candles make all the difference in your table décor even in broad daylight. Every meal will look better and feel more festive when you accent your table appropriately with the right kind and quantity of candles. This Sacred Fire candle from Woodland Alchemy on Orcas Island enhances the intimacy of your evening with its intoxicating aroma that will make your guests want to namaste all night long (in a good way).
14. Conversation Piece Utensils
Serving utensils looking a little lackluster? Check out these gorgeous Olive Wood Utensils handcrafted in Tunisia and sold by Seattle Cutlery. Olive wood is known for being durable, smooth, and lightweight. Handwash these with water and a small amount of soap to avoid stripping the natural oils. A light oiling with mineral oil after you’ve washed your wood utensils will ensure they last for many more parties to come!
15. Cute and Classy Cheese Markers
If you need a great hostess gift or want to add some swag to your own cheese plate, these Cheese Marker Forks hand-stamped by Stamping Cat Studio are a gouda idea! We love that these are made with up-cycled stainless steel forks in very good vintage condition. Your set of forks can be customized with your favorite cheese names too!
Party with Pizzazz
16. Edible Glitter, Luster Dust, and All Things Sparkly
Add some sparkle to your Summer sweets with edible glitters and luster dusts from Home Cake Decorating. If you are new to using luster dust or need some help with your techniques, check out How to Paint with Luster Dust. If you don’t like to bake or don’t have time to, buy some plainly decorated pre-made cupcakes and add your own choice of edible glitter. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell)
17. Chocolate Worthy of an Art Gallery
The deliciously gorgeous Donut Chocolate Bar combines hand-crafted, small-batch vegan chocolate with cinnamon-sugar donuts (also vegan) from Seattle favorite Mighty-O Donuts. Place a few of these around the table at the end of the night and watch your friends’ jaws drop at the sight of such artistry! You won’t want to miss the other decadent creations available from Chocolate Spiel.
Leave the leis for your guests as you don this Hawaiian Apron handmade with love ByLanaG that brings the aloha spirit to every party. Add an instant pop of color in your kitchen as you set the table, build your buffet, refill drinks, and catch up on the latest gossip. As the host or hostess with the most or mostess, everyone will thank you greatly for your ohana!
We all know about and have probably played a game or three of cornhole over the years. But what about classic dice games like Farkle and Yardzee that have been turned into yard games? Try a new activity like one of these (or both!) at your next summer soiree. Each game is good for up to 5 players at a time. It’s jumbo fun for everyone!
Well, that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed this list of our Top 20 Summer Essentials for Excellent Entertaining. What else would you recommend? Visit us on Facebook and Instagram to let us know what other party essentials you’d add to the list. May you enjoy a wonderfully fun season of sun with your family and friends!