Independence Day is a great time to invite friends and throw a casual summer party. You might think that a party in your Charlottesville apartment is impossible, but with a little planning and a few clever solutions, you can make your space the perfect size for any get-together!
Start by deciding how many people you want to invite and how much seating you will want. Go ahead and rearrange the furniture – put tables, sofas, and chairs on the outer edges of your room to create extra space for guests while preserving seating options and serving surfaces. Include extra pillows, cushions, and bean bags to make extra seating available that your guests can move to create additional spaces for conversation.
Place decorative items and furniture into bedrooms or closets to protect them and make even more space for your guests to occupy. Dedicate an area in which guests can store bags and coats to prevent a jumble at the entryway and keep items off of surfaces needed for serving food. Provide a place for guests’ personal items where they can’t be handled by other guests or used as a bed by your pets.
Kick off your menu by offering one signature cocktail and maybe wine or beer. Unless you enjoy being on call during the party to play bartender, consider making a cocktail that can be mixed quickly or served directly from the refrigerator. Give your guests “drink charms” or markers so that they can label their drinks and keep track of their glasses. Keeping bottled beverages like beer or soda for those who might not want a cocktail is also a good idea.
If are entertaining a large group, a dinner party might be unrealistic in close quarters. Tapas, small bite, and finger foods allow guests to easily find something tasty without visiting a buffet or crowding around a table. Place snacks and treats throughout the room to make it easier for guests to munch. Variety also provides motivation for guests to mingle as they try different foods in different parts of your space.
Independence Day is the perfect occasion for a theme party! Mini corn dogs and cocktail dogs are popular snacks for the 4th that work well in a small space; watermelon wedges and cornbread are also convenient favorites. Grilled kebabs are simple but impressive and create a summer flavor that will please everyone –tofu, chicken, shrimp, and beef kebabs paired with veggie and fruit kebabs can be distributed all over the room along with dipping sauces. Stay inside with your guests rather than grilling when they arrive: pre-cook your skewers and keep them warm in your oven, putting them out just before guests arrive. Try ice cream sandwiches for a fun and delicious dessert (that won’t heat up the kitchen).
Above all else, remember to have fun! Your guests want to spend time with you and your friends, so prepare in advance and allow yourself to relax and enjoy your party right in your Charlottesville apartment.
Ready to throw your perfect 4th party? Try our “Universal Kebabs” 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.