Hosting a summer dinner party is chic and infinitely cheaper than taking 30 of your closest friends to any restaurant. But no need to have nightmares about citronella candles, centerpieces and cucumber sandwiches! With a little planning, the preparation can be simple and fun—resulting in a welcoming atmosphere your guests will remember forever. Forget your dinner party doubts, ladies…it’s time to mark the date for your classiest soiree yet. Simply follow these planning tips.

•    Simplicity is key—save the meticulously planned multi-course menu for your next winter bash. Summer is all about being carefree! Focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients and well-loved recipes. Accomplish as much preparation as you can before guests arrive, and keep the menu refreshingly simple. Perhaps some oven-dried-tomato bruschettaor spicy carmelized walnuts with figs and cream cheese, a main course of grilled rib-eyes and lemon) and a light dessert.
•    Fill em’ up—Indulge your guests in an icy cold cocktail that will chase their worries away: spritzers or sangria are perfect thirst quenchers in the summer months. Don’t forget to have plenty of cold water on the table—accompanied by fresh lemon, lime and mint leaves for a festive touch. And we simply must advise: ample amounts of a beer and wine keep guests indefinitely happy at even the classiest of summer soirees. Cheers!
•    The inevitable sweet tooth—Cater to your guests’ every dessert desire, but keep it light. Berries always make for a great finale in the summertime. Prepare an elaborate (yet simple to prepare!) fruit platter of ripe mango, pomegranate, berries, peaches and melons. A delectable topping like rich Mascarpone tops the dish off.
•    The guest list—Between 8 and 12 guests is the idea number. Any more simply becomes less intimate. Shake things up by asking guests to switch seats after a course or before dessert—mingling is strongly encouraged.
•    A “magical” setting—In the warm fragrant summer months, flowers are an absolute must. They should preferably be handpicked out of the garden  and vibrantly colored. Accompanied with white table linens, flickering candles and tiki lanterns hanging from the trees? Simply magical. Set the mood with some easy listening tunes—the iTunes Essentials section of Apple’s music store even offers genre based play lists for summer dinner parties. Check out “classical dinner party” and prepare to relax. Finally, remember that those pesky mosquitoes can make or break the ambiance of your party! Have the citronella candles and insect repellent on hand… your guests will thank you later.

•    Relax—for lack of a better term, the key ingredient to the perfect summer dinner party is “the chill factor”. Prepare far enough in advance to sit back and take it all in—good food, good wine, but most importantly, good company. Enjoy!

If you’re throwing a summer soiree soon, what’s your top tip? Share with other Snappeners on Twitter or Facebook!