5 Steps to Throw a No-Prep (and No-Stress) Party!

It’s summertime (and it finally feels like it!) which means it’s time to dust off the deck chairs, picnic basket and straw hat. For me, summer’s also the season for entertaining, and throwing an impromptu, no-prep, no-stress party is what I do best (actually, it’s the only entertaining I do!). If you love the ideaˆof hosting a party, but regret it the moment your friends respond “is there anything I can bring?” (and you want to say “um, everything”), this is for you!

  • Knock off work an hour early on Friday? Tell the girls, there’s a summer soiree going down at mine!
  • Finish your weekend chores at 4pm on Sunday? Get onto your group-chat and fire up the barbie!
  • Friends just announced their engagement? Assemble Champagne tower, stat!
  • Another Saturday night with no plans and realising you haven’t seen your gals in weeks…? Get them over for a no-stress, no-prep, no-pressure party!

What I like: There’s nothing better than enjoying good food and drinks with friends, and I love doing so at home.

What I don’t like: Spending the night in the kitchen while my guests have to wait around. There’s no FOMO like listening to your friends laughing outside while you’re tending to the the gravy… “Just stir it, Una”.

Gone are the days where we need to slave over the stove for hours devilling sausages, coddling eggs and cocktailing prawns before entertaining. These days I’m all about a last-minute supermarket dash…. and the only cocktails in sight are of the liquid variety. Scroll down for some summer soiree inspiration and my no-prep, no-stress shopping list.

“Third drawer from the top, Una, Under the mini gherkins.”

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(there is nothing nostalgic about 80’s food!)

The trick to no-prep party planning is in the presentation (another thing they did badly in the 80s, pineapple and cheese on a stick, anyone?).

A few nice serving dishes, a crisp tablecloth or picnic blanket, matching glassware and ever-flattering tea-light candles make up for all the hours you didn’t spend on the catering.

This weekend, two friends and I travelled to the beautiful Bay of Islands for the last hurrah together before they move to Melbourne and Byron, respectively. We stayed at the stunning Treghan Luxury Lodge, a world away from the hustle and bustle of Aucklanders coming home from holiday and stressing about getting back to work. Being uncertain of cooking provisions there and how much post-holiday traffic there’d be out of Auckland, we didn’t want to do our shopping (or any meal prep) until we arrived, so instead I packed my bags with my favourite picnic blanket and cushions, unbreakable glassware (I know my friends…) and the cutest serveware for platters, recently picked up at Farmers.

This is also exactly what my girlfriends did for my hens’ party on Waiheke, hiring a place for a couple of nights, arriving laden with ready-to-eat supermarket snacks, and lots, and lots of wine.

Well, we couldn’t have planned it better. All my new Farmers turquoise tablewear (not pink – shockingingly!) matched perfectly the sun-drenched lounge. We spread the table, and the deck for later, where we could lounge and watch the sun go down.

Thank goodness we’d done no prep and no shopping, as we were provided with so much food – the lovely Anna insists that every group who stay are taken care of like this (wonderfully!), so our last-minute supermarket run was an absolute breeze. Yes, those are homemade cookies you spy in the background! (She must have known we had no intention of making anything from scratch.)

This waffle throw and gold detailed cushions add a touch of luxe to any summer soiree (similar ones here), and the lace-detailed serveware is my absolute fav.

What you should not be doing at your no-prep party is filling vol-au-vents or baking Alaskas, so I’ve written your no-prep, no-stress summer soiree shopping list for you.

At least one cheese platter: brie, blue & cumin gouda, a quince paste and some grapes. Pictured on Kate Reed Parlour Lace Platter.

Bowls piled high: with fruit, nuts, hummus and dips, so long as they come in a packet and you don’t have to whip it up yourself (I’ll make an exception for ‘Kiwi dip’) – pop into bowls or dainty tea-cups. The gorgeous bowls pictured are also Kate Reed’s collection for Farmers.

Something green: Grab a ready-to-go salad to throw in a bowl, add cherry tomatoes, an avocado, a handful of nuts or seeds, and a protein if you’re up for it. The best no-cook proteins are hot-smoked salmon fillets or shredded rotisserie chicken – or grill a steak for a beef salad in minutes. Served in a turquoise bamboo bowl and salad servers.

Delicious, hearty carbs: Assuming you’re drinking, have something to soak up the libations (and the hangover), so your guests still love you in the morning. Tie a tea-towel around the bread as if you’re fancy and do it all the time, and also so that you don’t have to hold the bread as you cut it fresh for guests. Arrange on a chopping board with tomatoes, basil and olive-oil.

Something sweet: Anna’s cookies were next-level incredible, but if you’re not staying at Treghan Lodge, you’ll have to make-do with shop-bought cookies, brownie or cake. Presentation will make-up for home-baking, I love this Kate Reed Parlour Lace Cake-Stand.

If you really want to impress… Don’t make complicated canapes, make a Champagne tower! It’s really easy once you know how, and instead of pouring 9 wine glasses, you only have to pour one, how’s that for easy entertaining!

  • Use coupe Champagne glasses not flutes.
  • It doesn’t have to be a square – for a group of up to 9, I start with a base of 6 glasses, either on an outdoor table or with a spillage tray (I’m only human!).
  • Arrange glasses touching the surrounding glasses, with a diamond-shaped gap between each glass.
  • When building the next layer, center the stem of the glass over the diamond openings that were created by the layer below.
  • Repeat until there is a single coupe glass on top.
  • Pour it up, pour it up!

Other decor your guests will appreciate… Dim-lit with tealight candles guarantees smooth, airbrushed skin, and no under-eye bags even if you party late into the night.

This post was made possible thanks to support from Farmers – if you’re planning any kind of soiree this summer, head online or to their fabulous homewares department in store. All items were available at the time of purchase.