Independence Day is the perfect time to invite friends over for a casual summer party. You may think that a party in your Harrisonburg apartment is impossible, but with a few tips and a little planning, you can make any size space the perfect size for your get-together!
Start by assessing how many people you are inviting and how much seating you will need. Don’t be afraid to move furniture – push tables, sofas and chairs to the outer edges of the room to make room for guests while still providing places to sit and snack. You can use pillows, cushions, and bean bags to provide extra seating that will move with your guests and create additional spaces for conversation.
Move decorative items and tables into bedrooms or closets to make more space and protect your valuables from being jostled or broken. Designate a place for guests to store bags and coats so that you don’t end up with a jumble at the doorway or strewn throughout the living room and kitchen. Provide a place where personal items won’t be handled by other guests or used as a sleeping place for your pet.
Begin planning your menu by offering one signature cocktail, along with wine or beer. You don’t want to spend the entire party playing bartender, so consider making a cocktail that can be mixed quickly or stored in the refrigerator for easy serving. Provide “drink charms” or markers so that guests can label their drinks and keep an eye on their own glass. It’s a good idea to have some bottled beverages like beer or soda for those who don’t want a cocktail.
If you’re planning to invite a large group, a dinner party may be unrealistic in close quarters. A tapas menu made up of small bites and finger foods make it easy for guests to find something tasty without having to move through a buffet-style line or gather around a table. Be sure to place snacks and treats all around the room – not only will this make it easier for guests to snack, but it provides motivation for guests to move around and mingle as they try different foods.
You can also create a theme party! Mini corn dogs and cocktail wieners are great snacks for the 4th, along with watermelon wedges and cornbread. Grilled kebabs can be a wonderful way to create summer flavor that will please everyone – make tofu, chicken, shrimp, and beef kebabs to spread around the room along with veggie kebabs featuring onions, mushrooms, and peppers, and fruit kabobs made of pineapple, watermelon, and strawberries. To keep you inside with your guests rather than outside at the grill, pre-cook your skewers and keep them warm in the oven, placing them out just before guests arrive. Finish up with ice cream sandwiches for a fun and delicious dessert (without heating up the kitchen).
Most importantly remember to have fun! Your guests came to spend time with you and your friends, so do whatever work you can in advance, and then allow yourself to relax and enjoy your party right at home in your Harrisonburg apartment.
Ready to throw your perfect 4th party? Try our “Kebab Combo” recipe below!
1 Cup soy sauce
½ Cup molasses
1 hot red chile, chopped finely
¼ Cup Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp. fish sauce (optional)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger root
4 chicken breasts, skinned and deboned, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 filet mignon steaks, sliced thinly
2 packages extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 package Button Mushrooms, scrubbed
2 small sweet onions, cut into eighths and sectioned (approx. 2-inch pieces)
2 bell peppers (red or green or both), cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pineapple, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 package of strawberries, cut in half
watermelon, cut into 2 inch chunks
Whisk all marinade ingredients together. Place chicken, shrimp, and beef skewers EACH in their own Ziploc bag, and all other skewers can be marinated together. Divide marinade and add to bags so all skewers are covered and chill for 4-6 hours. If you prefer NOT to grill your fruit, you can skip marinating it as well.
Save the unused marinade for basting.
Grill the tofu, veggie, and fruit skewers at the same time, basting with the leftover marinade, for about 20 minutes, until the tofu is firm and charred and the onions are mostly softened. Place finished skewers in a warm oven (180 – 225 degrees).
Baste and cook the chicken skewers, about 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. Cook the beef skewers, depending on doneness desired, 6-12 minutes, and the shrimp will only need about 3-4 minutes – if you time your skewers properly, they can be done all at the same time.
Keep skewers warm until ready to serve. You can serve them with dipping sauces like ketchup, Ponzu, peanut sauce, or spicy mustard. If you have unused marinade, you can heat it in a saucepan just until it starts to bubble to make a yummy dipping sauce; if you add a dollop of tahini or peanut butter, it’s even more interesting.