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♥︎ Hooray! 2021 Simplified Planners are here!

Free U.S. shipping on orders over $100!

Emily Ley Blog

Simplifying Entertaining

August 21, 2020

Hi, friends! I'm so excited to bring you this conversation between my mom and I today AND to show you her gorgeous new backyard living space! Growing up, we had lots of big family get-togethers. (Anyone miss big get togethers? Sad face). And now that we live in Pensacola again (for anyone new here, my husband / kids and I were in Tampa for the last ten years, about 8 hours away, but we recently moved back), we love getting together with my brother's family and my parents always around a good meal. They've been our "pod" of people that we see regularly. Typically, we get together at my house because we have a table large enough to seat all ten of us. But my mom and dad recently worked with Frontgate's Design Services team to create the most beautiful gathering spaces in their backyard. I grew up in this house and spent many a summer day / night in the pool and running through their great big yard. The dining room isn't large enough to seat us all either and this space is sooooo beautiful. When my mom mentioned the idea to me, I knew the perfect place to go for furniture that was timeless, super high quality, well-priced, and comfortable. It was so much fun working with Frontgate on this (the Design Services team made this so easy! My mom asked me to help, so I joined her for a complimentary consultation where we discussed the vision and they provided us with a personalized plan! They literally NAILED it!). Thanks for letting me be part of the process, Nana! It was so fun! Now invite me over for lasagna!!

Back to family get-togethers. They can be super casual or a little more thoughtful. My mom always makes them thoughtful. Even if she's having us over for socially distant hamburgers and hotdogs, she always thoughtfully picks out the cutest paper napkins and sets the table just right. It's always a sweet experience having dinner at their house. 

Because my mom loves to entertain in this beautiful space, I thought I'd gather a few of her tips for simplifying entertaining. Even when "entertaining" looks like everyone masked and six-feet apart. :)

1. Don't overthink it. A good family get together or celebration doesn't have to be over the top. People will remember how yummy the food was and how they felt cared for, not whether or not the table was set with fine china. Just make them feel comfortable.

2. Keep back stock of supplies to personalize your get-togethers: paper napkins of all types (grab them in small packages when they go on clearance at Target!), candles, tablecloths, cute plates, etc.

3. Perfect a few go-to dishes. Our family's lasagna recipe is the best. (No really, I know you probably think your family's is, but have you had ours yet!?) Courtney Whitmore has a beautiful cookbook coming out next month that has a ton of simple, beautiful, yummy ideas. 

4. Gather supplies that make get-togethers even more special when you come across them. For instance: plastic, reusable pop-corn containers for movie nights, plastic food trays for cookouts, or a roll of kraft paper for easy-to-set-up charcuterie boards (bonus idea: write the name of the foods with a sharpie on the paper).

5. Arrange seating areas to encourage conversation. Make your guests feel at home, comfortable, and relaxed.

6. Everything is more fun with a theme. A backyard barbecue, a make-your-own nachos bar, an ice cream sundae party. Even if you're just making dinner for your own family, in your own home, creating a theme is a fun way to mix things up.

Here are all the beautiful items that make this special space. Thank you to Frontgate for partnering with us for this post. It's a joy to work with a brand we love and adore! Just for fun, here's a before look at the space!