From sweet tea sipping to front porch swinging, countless summer memories are made on the grand porches of Charleston. In the early day of settlement, pineapples were placed on the front porches of Holy City homes willing to welcome and host seafaring travelers during their time in Charleston. The pineapple has since then become a symbol of warm hospitality, making an appearance on numerous wrought-iron gates, door-knockers, and porch statues around the Lowcountry.
To celebrate one of our favorite summer pastimes, we teamed up with Charleston-based expert event planner Tara Guérard of Tara Guérard Soirée, and our friends at Southern Living, to share Tara’s top tips on hosting the porch party of a lifetime.
- Tie it together: Little details go a long way in taking a party to the next level, particularly when it’s coming together in record time.
- Mix a house cocktail: Keep the ingredients and recipe simple, and then add a little flair. Save the shaking and muddling for more formal affairs. TRY THIS: Vodka, soda water, crushed ice & a splash of fresh grapefruit juice. Top it off with a stirrer, then serve to guests with a cloth cocktail napkin.
- Prep the bar cart: Whether you’re hosting outside or inside, a properly stocked beverage station is key. Plan the basics; then introduce low-effort options. NOTE: Not everyone will want booze, so be sure to have nonalcoholic options on hand like seltzer, sodas, juices, and fruit-infused water. Be ready with garnishes, plenty of ice, a well-insulated ice bucket, and tongs.
- Think easy access: For the smoothest setup, give guests a clear line to the drinks. The bar is a natural icebreaker, so place it within eyesight of the entrance. No bar cart? No problem. Any table can become a makeshift serving station.
- Keep it cool: Avoid the pre-bash dash to the kitchen by selecting a menu filled with items that don’t require heating – and reheating. Lowcountry shrimp, chilled and served with side sauces, is a dish just right for a late-afternoon fete.
- Set a table for socializing: While formal settings aren’t required, a pretty table is a must. Small bites are ideal for grazing, but finger foods can be messy. Reinvent the finger bowl by soaking hand towels in lemon juice and water, rolling and inserting them into cored lemons, and freezing to keep their chill.
- Elevate store-bought food: Take a laid-back spread to impressive new heights with a quick, simple, seasonally appropriate menu. Divie up fried okra into festive paper cones and line them with parchment paper to prevent residue marks.
Feeling inspired? Plan your Charleston getaway to experience the destination voted #1 “Friendliest City in America” by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler.