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.
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
-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!)
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
Get more like this–sign up for our newsletter for exclusive inspirational content!
Photos: Mary Luttrell