It’s official. The first day of spring is March 20th. Why not celebrate the prettiest season by planning an outdoor soiree for friends and family. Here are a few of our favorite ways to bring your loved ones together for an afternoon of good food, drink and outdoor celebration. Cheers!

Set the Scene

Keep it simple but colorful. We love the look of mismatched vases or jars filled with fresh flowers, and this is the season for tulips, daffodils, camellias and hyacinths. The easiest way to create a cohesive bouquet is to pick a color, say cream or pink, and just use blooms in that hue. Other great decor ideas are floating candles in bowls of water, hanging paper lanterns and bold place cards.

When setting the table, casual tablecloths and napkins can be cut from any material (if you don’t want to hem them, snip the edges with pinking shears for a cohesive look). Either stay within the same color palette as your flowers or go for something completely contrasting.  Finally, if your gathering is late afternoon or early evening, nothing adds a cozy atmosphere better than stringing lights up in trees or overhead. We suggest just keeping these lights up all season, as they are guaranteed to be used often.

Lovely libations

Think fresh and fruity. Here’s one of our favorites from Martha Stewart.

Lillet Rose Spring Cocktail (serves 6)

12 ounces of Lillet Rose (a wine-based aperitif)

6 ounces gin

12 ounces Ruby Red grapefruit juice

6 edible flowers for garnish.

How to:

Combine the Lillet Rose, gin and juice into a cocktail shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain and divide among festive glasses, like a champagne coupe, and decorate each drink with a floating, edible flower.

Beautiful Bites

A buffet is the simplest but if you’d like a sit-down affair, always set up a few appetizers, drinks and desserts on a separate table, as that encourages guests to mingle. We love to do a great salad and one of our favorites is this one from the Barefoot Contessa. Serve it with a simple grilled salmon and some crusty bread.

Tomato Basil and Feta Salad  (serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients:

1 large clove of garlic

1-cup basil leaves, packed plus a few extra leaves for garnish

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Juice of one lemon 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

2 1/2 lbs of tomatoes

6 oz feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1.Peel garlic clove and chop in mini food processor.
2. Add basil leaves and continue to process.
3. Add olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the food processor, and continue to blend. Add salt and pepper, if you'd like.
4. Chop tomatoes and crumble feta cheese. Mix together.
5. Toss with dressing.

Happy Endings

Is there a better dessert combination than strawberries and chocolate? We don’t think so. Keep it super simple by just grabbing some mini skewers and threading the fruit through before drizzling it with a warm chocolate sauce—it’s chic finger food. Also, you can’t go wrong with a seasonal fruit tart and some fresh whipped cream, or even the traditional chocolate brownie a la mode.

Have a sweet spring!