Summer Gatherings, the Invite

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Gather: (verb): to scoop up and bring together. 

There’s just something about May–maybe it’s the soaring temperatures or the advertisements for farmer’s markets–that makes me want to call all my people and invite them over.

I love a well-planned, beautifully set table with hand-written invitations that accompany any tasteful dinner party just as much as the next girl.

But there’s just something about getting off work, stopping by the farmer’s market, sending a text to a handful of friends or neighbors that simply reads, “Come over tonight. Grill’s on. Don’t worry about bringing anything. Stay awhile. We can’t wait to see you.”

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Here’s 3 helpful tips to start gathering today:

1. Don’t over complicate it.

Don’t wait until the timing is perfect–you’ll miss an opportunity.  Use what you have. Don’t buy anything new unless you want to.  Use your paper plates or your grandmother’s china.

People aren’t going to remember what the food was served on; they’re going to remember how they felt when you welcomed them and loved them.

2. Shop local.

I’ll always be a supporter of local farms.  Find out when and where your town’s farmer’s market is and go.  You’ll be supporting your economy, helping a local family, and buying and eating the freshest produce available.  What’s better than fresh, juicy watermelon on a summer’s night?  Weave the foods you find into your menu.

Think watermelons, peaches, and strawberries, corn, and tomatoes to start. Have fun with it!

3. Enjoy yourself.

When I first started gathering people years ago, everything had to be perfect. But I’ve learned something along the way.  People just want to be seen. Known. Talked to. Invited in. Loved on. Welcomed back.

So just take a deep breath. (That means cool your jets, Susan).  Create a place and space that people can enter in and know they’re safe, wanted, and won’t be judged.  Hug them. Ask about their mommas and their kids. Congratulate their successes and forget about everything else.

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Here’s my short and sweet go-to menu in a pinch.  Add some bread and you’re set! (And by add bread I mean anything you have bread-related in your pantry.  We don’t make our own bread unless you like standing on your feet for five hours.  To each their own. No thank you, ma’am.)  

Hawaiian teriyaki chicken

Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken: full recipe here.

sides use

Avocado, tomato, and corn salad

Full recipe here.

watermelon

Watermelon slices

(Tip: use pop sickle sticks to serve and keep hands/surfaces free from a sticky mess!)

chickfil a watermelon drink

Copycat Chick-fil-A watermelon mint lemonade.

Full recipe here.  (This is a crowd pleaser so I always double my batch!)

ice cream

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream 

Now, I’ll be honest and say this isn’t the recipe I use–my momma would come down from Heaven and whoop me if I gave that out–but here’s one I also love that’s simple and delicious. Strawberries on top are a must unless you just don’t like to have a good time.

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So here’s to throwing perfection out the window and scooping up your tribe and sending a text that reads:

“Come over tonight. Grill’s on. Don’t worry about bringing anything. Stay awhile. We can’t wait to see you.”

For those that just can’t NOT decorate your outdoor space for gatherings like these, I’ll be sharing some ideas tomorrow.

Until then, I’ve got a text to send.

joy, melissa

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