Summer entertaining is all about keeping things simple – plastic utensils, easy recipes on the grill, et cetera – but once the weather cools down and the party moves inside, more focus gets placed on the food, the décor and all those small-but-significant details you add to make your guests feel special. But that doesn’t mean you have to get all fussy. (I can’t do fussy.)
So I thought I’d show you some pictures I took of the setup for an intimate dinner I held for a few friends. The party wasn’t for any especially good reason – just that I wanted to give them an evening of good food and good drinks. But I also wanted actually spend time with my guests and not messing around with a stove, so I made sure that everything I set out was not only one of my all-time go-to (meaning unscrewupable) recipes, but also something I could make well in advance.
The Drink: Hot Spiced Wine
Oh, you guys, this is SO good. Every year I make hot spiced wine from October on, but this year I decided to try it out in my Slow Cooker with Ecco Domani Merlot (pretty much the only red wine we keep around these days, since it’s so light and drinkable that it goes with virtually everything). Must try.
HOT SPICED WINE
What You Need:
- 2 bottles Ecco Domani Merlot
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
- 2 whole cloves
- 3 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp sugar
What You Do:
- Pour the wine into a slow-cooker.
- Place the broken cinnamon sticks and cloves into a tea infuser (so you can easily remove them later), and set it in the wine.
- Add the apples, lemon juice and sugar, stir to combine, and let sit in the slow-cooker on low for a couple of hours before removing the tea infuser.
Serve garnished with a cinnamon stick, if desired.
The (Super) Easy Upgrades:
I didn’t have time to make my own dip (actually, that’s a lie: I didn’t even consider making my own dip), so I just scooped some store-bought stuff into a pretty dish and topped it with freshly chopped dill to make it look beautifully homemade.
I also put out brownies, compliments of a boxed mix, because for real: brownies made from a box are better than any brownies you will find anywhere else in the whole land. It’s a fact.
I’m not a huge fan of traditional fall colors, so I decided to go with a calm green and white palette (hydrangeas, white roses, and sculptural leaves), incorporating texture and pops of color with hanging berries (those are faux branches from the dollar store) and gold faux gourds leftover from Halloween. I also included zebra-print, of course (that table runner is actually a scrap of wrapping paper that I cut to size; ssh). Final touch? A rose leaf trio set on each guest’s plate, just because it looked pretty.
I absolutely love this setup. It’s such a nice way to make an evening with friends just that much more special, while still being casual and relaxing both for your guests and for you. (And really: that’s how entertaining should be.)
Ecco Domani is a partner of Ramshackle Glam.