The 4th of July is a wonderful opportunity to invite friends to your Charlottesville apartment for a casual summer party. If you think that it’s impossible to throw a party in your apartment, think again! With our tips and a little planning, you can host the perfect get-together in any size space!
First, you will want to decide how many people you want to invite so that you will know how much seating to provide. Move your furniture by pushing tables, sofas, and chairs against the walls of your room to create more space while preserving seating and serving areas. Use pillows, cushions, and bean bags to create fluid, flexible seating that can be moved with your guests and create additional spaces for conversation.
Valuables and decorative items or furniture can be protected by moving them into bedrooms or closets; this will also help clear surfaces for serving snacks. Set aside an area where guests can leave bags and coats – this will help keep clutter out of your entryway or from crowding serving tables. Provide a place for your guests’ personal items where can’t be handled by other guests or used as a sleeping place for your pets.
Offer one signature cocktail rather than taking drink orders (unless you enjoy playing bartender during the party). Try creating a cocktail that can be mixed quickly or made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for easy service. Use “drink charms” or markers to allow guests to label their drinks and keep track of their own glass. It’s always a good idea to offer wine and to have some bottled beverages like beer or soda chilled for those who might not prefer a cocktail.
For larger groups of guests, a dinner party in your apartment may be unrealistic. Rather than sitting down to a meal, create a menu of tapas and finger foods that allow your guests the ability to enjoy small bites without clumsily gathering around a crowded table. Divide up your dishes and place them all around the room – it will be easier for your guests to help themselves and will provide motivation for guests to mingle and try different dishes.
Have fun with the theme of the season! Mini corn dogs and cocktail hot dogs are excellent seasonal snacks for a 4th party in your apartment; watermelon wedges and cornbread make a great summer pair, too. Grilled kebabs are a great way to grill up summer flavor that pleases everyone’s tastes – tofu, chicken, shrimp, and beef kebabs can be placed all around your party space with a companion plate of veggie and fruit kebabs. Avoid being chained to the grill by pre-cooking your kebabs and keeping them warm in the oven. You can put them out just before your guests arrive. Serve ice cream sandwiches for a fun, delicious, no-nonsense dessert (that won’t heat up your kitchen).
More than anything else, have fun! Your guests have come to spend time with you and your friends, so prepare as much as you can in advance so that you can relax and enjoy your party in your Charlottesville apartment.
Want to stage try kebabs for your Independence Day party? Try our “Kebab Medley” 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 together, 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) to keep them warm.
Baste and cook the chicken skewers, about 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. Baste and 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 in your oven until ready to serve. You can serve them with dipping sauces like ketchup, Ponzu, peanut sauce, or spicy mustard – get creative and try some of the more interesting sauces from the “international” section of your grocery store. 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.