|Photo Chia Chong via Camille Styles|
Summer is almost coming to an end (sniff, sniff) and lately I've been making it a point to have more family get-togethers outside. If you're looking to add a little Latin flair to your next outdoor get together, we caught up with our friend Carolina Buia, co-author of the book Latin Chic: Entertaining with Style and Sass to share some of her best entertaining tips before summer ends.
Tip #1 Let's Get Digital and Green- Today there are many free or low-cost on-line sites that will send out beautiful invitations via email. Some, like RedStamp.com and Paperlesspost.com, ship non-tech-savvy a snail mail invite. For a more interactive experience, check out smilebox.com where you can build a photo collage. The best part? It's a cinch to track who is in the mood to join your fiesta.
Tip #2 Decor- Decorate your backyard with flowers, candles, hanging lanterns and evocative tablecloths. Make every place seating feel special with Mexican paper flowers—which are eco-friendly and can be reused over and over again. Bring indoor furniture outside for extra seating, including kids' tables and chairs. Throw a swath of Mexican oil cloth on the kids' area for easy clean up. Of course, have a back up plan (as in, let's run inside) in case a storm decides to show up uninvited.
Tip #3 Put Together a Music Playlist- Don't just add adult songs, but throw in some hip, kids' favorites like Dan Zane and Friends' Mariposa Ole and any of the brilliant Spanish songs from his ¡Nueva York! album.
Tip #4 Kick Up Your Margaritas- Kick up your margaritas up a notch, by steeping serranos and jalapenos directly into your favorite bottle of aged tequila for at least three days. Garnish your glass with pink lava salt. And for the wee ones? Serve them some senorita virgin margaritas—basic lemon- or lime-aid made from water that has been boiled and steeped with strips of peeled, fresh ginger. Sweeten with superfine sugar, agave or honey. Rim their glasses with colored sugar.
Tip #5 Keep the Food Simple and Bountiful- I love simple tapas like tuna ceviche, mini-empanadas, and ham croquetas. When it comes to the main dish, think of a homey one pot meals. Some of our go-to's include paella Valenciana, the Nicaraguan rice and beans dish known as pinto de gallo or Brazil's delicious seafood stew, moqueca.
Tip #6 Don't Forget a Small Treat- Don't forget to serve a cafecito and a little treat, like suspiros (meringues). Served on a bed of espresso beans, they make for a beautiful and tasty finale. Let the kids dip suspiros in Mexican-spiced hot chocolate. Yes, you'll be sending them home with a sugar high, but also with a crescent moon smile on their faces!