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Vegan Party Ideas: Casual Summer Refreshments

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Vegan Party Ideas: Casual Summer Refreshments | Peaceful Dumpling

Looking for vegan party ideas? Turn to your favorite seasonal cookbook for food inspiration.

After all of the socializing at our wedding, I felt myself longing for another party.

When my husband and I were in grad school, our friends had a party at least once a month it seemed. One couple, in particular, was always inviting guests over for themed parties and interesting pot-lucks. When I was new to the social circle, my husband (then BF) explained that no matter how many guests were there, people tended to congregate in the kitchen, rather than the more spacious living room. Of course, the kitchen housed the booze and most of the food, but I realized that regardless of these attractions, the kitchen-as-socializing-space was born of habit, a muscle memory of friendship, an intuited feeling that shoulder-to-shoulder with no place to set your drink was the place to be.

It was cool, and I wanted to find that atmosphere wherever we lived.

During my grad school years, I never hosted a party beyond a dinner party for a few other people. I always felt that I somehow wasn’t up to the task—that I’d have to make my apartment immaculate, serve wonderful food, and, scariest of all, be a social hostess! It was more comfortable to wait until the next Facebook invite from a veteran party-thrower.

In the passage of a few years, however, my thoughts on this have changed, and it feels natural to plan and host small gatherings. Although I give the apartment a good cleaning, it’s never immaculate, and that’s fine—people want to drink and chat—not give your bookshelves the white glove test! The food part is what you make it. I think it would be fun to host a “takeout party,” where you order everyone’s favorite takeout, and serve it on pretty plates! Easy to do with minimal cleanup!

As far as the socializing element goes, it gets easier with a little practice. Small talk has never been my strong suit, so at any party, I usually ask people questions about their lives that aren’t prying but provide for richer conversation. Showing genuine interest in others helps me feel like I don’t have to “perform” or dig up entertaining things about myself on the spot.

Finally, I’ve learned that if you want to maintain a lively social group, be lively yourself! If you want a party, host a party.

With this in mind, I was flipping through one of my favorite seasonal cookbooks, My New Roots, and I came across two tantalizing dips: Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut Dip and Cleansing Grape Salsa. These became the seeds of my Summer Refreshments party idea. I wanted to make this dips, and I wanted to share them.

Next, I discovered a recipe for Grapefruit, Ginger, and Lemongrass Sake Cocktails. (I am kicking myself for not taking photos of our cocktail! Ugh.) Pinterest is a great place to look for unique cocktails.

For a small group, these simple offerings were just right.

Vegan Party Ideas: Casual Summer Refreshments | Peaceful Dumpling

Casual Summer Refreshments Party:

(For 6-12 guests)

Food and Drink:

2 homemade (simple but gourmet) dips—one rich and warm, the other raw and juicy

2 varieties of things to dip—like pita bread chips and artisan corn chips. Veggies sticks work, too.

1 signature cocktail with revitalizing ingredients (like fresh fruit juice), served cold

Vegan Party Ideas: Casual Summer Refreshments | Peaceful Dumpling

Roasted red pepper and walnut dip–creamy but not too heavy for summer.

Vegan Party Ideas: Casual Summer Refreshments | Peaceful Dumpling

For a twist on classic salsa, add fruit and fresh chile peppers.

Vegan Party Ideas: Casual Summer Refreshments | Peaceful Dumpling

At the grocery store, look for munchies with a short list of (recognizable) ingredients.

Set Up:

-Keep things fuss-free, but don’t feel bound to disposable plates and cutlery. I set out a stack of mismatched salad plates (ceramic, not china) and provided guests with cloth napkins (also mismatched).

-I placed the food items on a brown paper runner (I repurposed packing paper), and wrote the name of the food on the paper using a sharpie.

-Finishing touches: You can easily elevate your spread by including fresh herb garnishes and lighting a few unscented candles (you don’t want candle fragrance interfering with the aroma of your food). I even put a handful of mint leaves in a “vase,” a.k.a. a jar. (I don’t think you can ever have too many greens!)

Vegan Party Ideas: Casual Summer Refreshments | Peaceful Dumpling

I set out forks, knives, and spoons just in case guests brought non-finger food. We didn’t end up needing them, but that’s okay!

A note on serving vegan food: Even if the majority of your guests are not vegan or vegetarian, and you’d like to introduce them to vegan food, don’t feel obliged to make imitation cheese or meat if they’re not your forte—or to your taste. As the one preparing the food, I find it far more satisfying to allow veggies to sing their own song while I get down and dirty with some good spices. I hope that makes sense.

Do you plan to throw any parties this summer?

Related: 5 Eco Friendly Summer Party Ideas

Vegan Party Recipes: Best Guacamole Ever

Stuffed  Cremini Mushrooms

Spinach Artichoke Dip

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Photos: Mary Luttrell

Mary Hood Luttrell

Mary Hood Luttrell

Beauty Editor at Peaceful Dumpling
Peaceful Dumpling Beauty Editor and creator of Bisou du Jour, Mary Hood Luttrell lives with her husband in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mary is a freelance writer and writing and blogging consultant. A lover of whole foods, Mary delights in learning new ways to prepare vegan dishes. Mary also enjoys reading and writing poetry, art journaling, running, and practicing yoga and ballet. Follow Mary on her blog Bisou du Jour, Instagram and Pinterest.
Mary Hood Luttrell

@maryhluttrell

Beauty Editor at @peacedumpling & Creator of Bisou du Jour.
RT @peacedumpling: We’re Gifting You Our Fav Things! Botanical Magic Giveaway x @FloraHealth, @5yina, @Earthwisebeauty https://t.co/D8x0lZl… - 6 months ago
  • Juhea Kim

    your party is truly #squee worthy!! I am feeling super inspired to try it myself. I’ve only been promising to all of our friends that there will be a picnic in July. Since I live 1/2 block from the park, it could easily be a sort of picnic/ housewarming openhouse kind of thing. Since I’ve never thrown a party before it’s a little anxiety inducing but I figure people can entertain themselves as long as I provide the place/time/food/drinks. 😀 the only worry I have is that we don’t have enough blankets for the grass–but I guess ask to byob? (bring your own blanket)

    • I love the idea of bring your own blanket! It could be a Housewarming Blanket Picnic. The blankets could end up as conversation pieces (like ugly sweaters but not ugly, haha).

      And yes, once you’ve provided all the goodies, people can just hang out and enjoy them! Also, don’t be shy about asking people to bring something (besides the blankets!) As a guest, I feel nice being able to contribute, even if it’s just a bottle of wine that I picked up on my grocery run.

      I hope everything will be documented. Whatever you do, if you make a beautiful cocktail, don’t forget to take photos 😉

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