Tips for Labor Day Entertaining by Katie Lee

Jessica Hoppe

It’s the last long weekend of summer, which for many means-entertaining! Too often hostessing defeats the purpose of our supposedly “stress free” days off.

This year do not replace office work with slaving in the kitchen. Follow these helpful tips from entertaining expert and Clos du Bois wine ambassador, Katie Lee.

Keep the Wine Flowing

Have a “house wine.” Choose a white wine and a red wine, I stock up on Clos du Bois Chardonnay and Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon, that pair well with summer fare and purchase a case of each. Most wine stores offer a discount on wine by the case, so it’s a budget-friendly option as well.

Set the Mood

Lighting is so important for creating a warm party atmosphere. Get creative and hang paper lanterns from a tree for an outdoor dinner party, or even try hanging an old chandelier attached to an extension chord. White Christmas tree lights are always nice; I add a twist to the traditional twinkle lights by attaching starfish to the chord with raffia ribbon. Different size candles are always a plus, and be sure to use unscented so as not to attract bugs, or detract from the smell of the food and the taste of the wine.

Themes Are Unique

Choose a theme and go from there, it will give direction when deciding the menu, wine, dcor, and even the music. For example, have a beach theme and serve lobster rolls, fill hurricane lamps with sand and candles, and write guests names on seashells for place cards. Or, one of my favorites, rock the Kasbah, and go Moroccan with tagines, a variety of spreads and salads, and buy colorful fabrics to use as a tablecloth.

Beat the Heat
When the mercury rises on the thermometer, craft a menu of chilled dishes for the hot summer night. Prepare the food earlier in the day and refrigerate until serving time. Serve a chilled soup, a salad of shaved vegetables, and a poached salmon with a light dill sauce. Add a bottle of ice cold Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio and everyone will feel cool as a cucumber. Preparing chilled food earlier in the day also takes the pressure off when your guests start to arrive. I never like missing out on the party and feeling “stuck” in the kitchen.

Tell Guests: “Do-It Yourself”

Set up a self-serve bar for guests. A large tin bucket from the gardening store suddenly looks elegant when filled with ice and bottles of wine. Put out cocktail napkins, glasses, and a small platter of bite-size hors d’oeuvres. Also be sure to include a non-alcoholic drink option, like a bottle of sparkling lemonade, for guests who are not drinking.

If you need suggestions on what to serve, check out Katie Lee’s many summer barbecue recipes here.