10 Best Menus for Summer Entertaining

What to make for all your summer celebrations

1. Special Occasion Dinner Menu

Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, an engagement, getting the braces off, or the end of the school year, this menu is a step up from your everyday dinner but easy enough to make on a weeknight. Plus, it’s not a party without bubbly, themed menu cards, and popovers now, is it? 

2. An Exotic Menu to Impress Your Date

When you’re looking to wow the apple of your eye, there is no better way than by preparing them a meal that is completely out of the ordinary. We’re not talking about dishes that are hard to make, but ones that are full of exotic flavors, unexpected, and fun to eat with your fingers.

3. A Shower Luncheon Menu

When the weather warms up, the number of celebrations that honor a bride- or mom-to-be seem to multiply. But even if you’re not hosting a shower this summer, this wonderful menu of small bites and salads is perfect to serve the ladies for that post-house tour or tennis match luncheon.

4. Low-Key Sunset Cocktails

Because there is no better way to celebrate summer than with a cocktail party at sunset (or sangria, deviled eggs, and anything grilled). Always forgetting which glass of sangria is yours? Get crafty and make some easy cocktail charms that each of your guests can take home with them. 

5. Stress-Free Dinner with Friends

This spring menu works just as well in the summer, as do Clodagh McKenna's tips for keeping stress to the minimum. Hit the farmers market for fresh ingredients that you won't need to fuss with too much/

6. A Dinner Menu Featuring Seasonal Favorites

When the weather warms, the farmers markets and roadside farm stands begin to burst with colorful fresh fruits and vegetables that are the perfect inspiration for hosting a dinner, just because. Here are some ideas on what to serve.

7. Lazy Weekend Brunch Menu

Too busy during the week to even contemplate making a meal from scratch for four, let alone eight? Instead, invite your friends over for a lazy weekend brunch with the doors open or out on the patio. Serve some of these breakfast favorites, Bloody Marys, and some bubbly cocktails — and no one has to worry about getting home too late.

8. Picnic Menu for a Crowd


Summer is the perfect time to pack up a picnic and head out to your nearest beach, park, or grassy field. After you’ve read up on our favorite picnic picks of the season, make and pack this mouth-watering menu of portable dishes — and don’t forget the sunscreen.

9. Casual Lunch Menu

When on vacation, having friends over for lunch often replaces the dinner party as the meal to entertain around. But instead of sticking with boring sandwiches and chips, fire up the grill and make some of these warm-weather favorites.

10. Late-Night Party Snack Menu

Valaer Murray

Summertime means the kids are home from school and often hanging out with friends at night. Instead of having them raid your pantry of the foodstuffs you were stocking up on for weekend houseguests, have some snacks made in advance awaiting their arrival so they won’t go hungry (or ask you to make them something in the middle of the night).