Summer is officially on and entertaining outdoors is on everyone’s mind. Fire up the barbecue, put the rosé on ice, turn up the music and head outdoors for a summer fiesta. Top East End agents are no strangers to luxurious parties — whether attending or hosting. We asked for tips for hosting al fresco dinners and poolside cocktail parties at homes in the Hamptons or on the North Fork this summer. What are the perfect ingredients for a successful backyard bash?
Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate
“My husband and I are big foodies, plus he fishes and I garden so this is truly our favorite season for entertaining. We live on the water, so Mother Nature provides the backdrop and sometimes the entertainment, too. Our family and friends have come to expect great food and wine, great music and lots of fun. They can play in the pool or paddle board out back while we prepare the feast. We plan ahead — that’s important. We stay with what’s in season — meats, fish and produce. We shop local for everything possible from cheeses to breads, pasta, sausage and more. The local farmers markets are great sources and of course we have our favorites like the Seafood Shop, Carissa’s, Villa Italian Specialties, Candyman, Wesnofske Farms, Cavaniola’s, Iacono, and Wölffer, but I’ve been known to travel to Oceanside for Pastosa’s ravioli and prosciutto bread. Obviously, with that on our to-do list, we really need to plan ahead and start shopping in advance. A very important component is the staff; in order for any host to enjoy themselves, assistance is a must! Also, when entertaining outdoors always have seating in the shade as well as the sun, and keep indoors available.”
Amelia Doggwiler, Brown Harris Stevens
“To guarantee that everyone leaves with good memories of a great night, I have some fun guidelines when hosting a summer party. Have a theme/title for the party – it’s always more fun and makes it special. A color theme will work or choose a region in the world. Design invitations based on the theme; paperless email invitations work wonderfully. Have at least an hour for cocktail time before dinner time so your guests can arrive and mingle. Have a nice and knowledgeable bartender and offer a special summer signature drink, named specifically for your party theme. Decorate the tables with fresh flowers, along with summer votives to add the perfect glow to the evening. And my favorite part that any great party must-have is a wonderful DJ who can serenade the guests with lounge music during cocktail and dinner time until it is time to change the mood and hit the dance floor! Remember, the food is important but what your guests will remember more are the warmth and the good times they spent at your party.”
Sheri Winter Parker, The Corcoran Group
“When planning a party, the music and lighting truly set the mood. Smooth, light music and dramatic hanging lanterns or a myriad of candles (placed safely!) can really create a relaxed, m ellow v ibe. F or décor, sculptural branches are a great way to make a space look elegant and flowers provide a pleasing pop of color. In addition, serving libations from fun, fabulous vintage coupe or cocktail glasses can be a real showstopper, and using antique or unusual dishes and flatware will add some whimsy. Make it fun! In terms of what to serve, you can never go wrong with finger foods, and a raw bar is typically a hit at a waterside soirée. As for beverages, I like to offer white wine and rosé at my parties, everybody likes them, and I don’t have to worry about red wine stains on my outdoor furniture. A fun twist is to create wine slushies with a margarita machine. Trust me, guests always love them. Finally, my most important advice is to be well-stocked with food, alcohol, and ice. These three components — along with fun people of course — are the key ingredients for a successful summer event!”
Marcy Braun, Douglas Elliman
“I always believe that the best ingredients for any successful bash are good food and good company! My full workday schedule doesn’t allow for much time to prepare when hosting, so I will often stop at specialty stores during my daily travels, collecting the best options for a true taste of the Hamptons. Favorite stops include Loaves and Fishes food store for the best scones, Round Swamp for produce and an enormous array of well-prepared foods, and if I have a showing by the beach, I’m sure to make a quick stop at Harry Ludlow’s Mecox Farm for his amazing pies. Of course, I’ll also serve up one of my signature homemade challahs, which are usually on hand every weekend in the summer for my customers (@challahbackgirl). We also host a lot of broker bashes over the summer, which are always fun, especially when you have the privilege of playing off an amazing setting. For instance, at one of our spectacular oceanfront listings, we love to pair the magnificent dune and ocean views with fresh lobster rolls. It’s the ultimate beach party!”
Cindy Scholz, Compass
“The Hamptons are designed for hosting, and curating an appropriate guest list is the key to a successful event. For each guest I invite, I make sure there is at least one new connection they will find meaningful. After the party, I follow up with all the guests to make sure they can keep the connection going. We have also enjoyed having a chef help with our evenings. The chef we use focuses on healthy cuisine pulling from all local sources for ingredients. And, it is fun when the party comes to you. This summer, I am having a wardrobe stylist join us for a couple of events to bring fresh summer looks that guests can browse. Overall, in hosting, I try to anticipate guest needs and be sure they are met to make for a perfect evening.”
Ann Ciardullo & Keith Green, Sotheby’s International Realty
“Hosting dinners outdoors during the summer has become the epicenter of our multi-generational family life. The Beach Lane farm stand provides the “farm-to-family” experience we’ve come to cherish. We’ve learned the hard way that everyone wants to be at the same table, so we’ve invented a series of extensions that let our zinc-top table expand to seat from 12 to 24. But our lives changed forever when we built our outdoor kitchen three years ago. Now we’re all together, shucking corn, slicing tomatoes, grilling (everything), making smash-burgers, baking pizza, and CLEANING UP. We will tell anyone who will listen that an outdoor kitchen is simply the best investment you can make for your Hamptons summers. Quality outdoor kitchens are expensive and can cost up to $2,000 a linear foot, but the better you make the kitchen, the better the experience for everyone. So plan wisely. We have a grill, pizza oven, refrigerator drawers, sink, lobster-pot burner, pot filler, griddle, and wok. We recommend making room for plenty of workspace and tucked-away garbage.”
This article appeared in the June 2022 issue of Behind The Hedges. Read the full digital version of the magazine here.