In addition to marking the longest day of the year, the summer solstice has served as a celebratory occasion for centuries. From ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures to the more modern bonfires and backyard parties of the present, the summer solstice marks the beginning of the astronomical midsummer. It starts at sun up on June 21, providing the optimal occasion for an all-day fiesta. Why not be the first in your family or friend group to celebrate a memorable start to summer?
“Summer is all about bright colors, and the solstice is no exception,” says Anne Michaelsen, interior designer and entertaining expert (annemichaelsendesign.com). “I like blue and yellow, in particular, which is a beautiful color combination and also an ode to the ocean and the sun.”
Whether entertaining guests inside or out on the patio, Michaelsen recommends hanging striped Mexican blankets on guests’ chairs as beautiful decor accents (they can double as wraps if it gets cool.
While the summer solstice is representative of midsummer magic in some circles, it also serves as a reminder of summer’s natural rainbow bounty. Strawberries, apricots, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, eggplant and summer squash are some of the fresh produce available during the summer.
Treat guests to a homemade Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Focaccia Bread. The mix of bread flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, fresh rosemary leaves and Meyer lemons will dazzle celebrants’ taste buds (find the full recipe on theviewfromgreatisland.com).
Include a refreshing cucumber tomato salad. For the main course, consider mixed grilled skewers with shrimp, sausage, squash, tomatoes and mushrooms. Or, go with a classic burger buffet. Include fixings to make Hawaiian burgers topped with pineapple and California-style burgers with avocado.
“A bottle of chilled rosé in a wicker ice bucket is the perfect refreshing drink for an outdoor summer solstice dinner,” Michaelsen says.
While bonfires at the beach are a brilliant way to celebrate summer, landlocked hosts need an alternative. To create a bonfire experience in the backyard, all you need is a fire pit, skewers and s’mores fixings.
S’mores stations with or without a backyard fire pit are popular summer trends that children of all ages appreciate. In addition to the traditional marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker combo, include extras, such as hazelnut spreads, peanut butter and caramel sauce.
Don’t forget to include wipes on the s’mores table — your guests will thank you (and so will your patio furniture).
If you happen to have a pool area, Michaelsen suggests playing up a water theme. “Why not celebrate the summer solstice out on the water?” she says. “Set up plenty of gingham, nautical prints and wicker around the pool, and feature a table with a blue and white gingham tablecloth, wicker tablemats and nautical printed plates and accents.”
Before guests attack the s’mores bar and roast marshmallows by the bonfire, provide a few substantial summer dishes. A clam bake and crab/shrimp boil are fun alternatives to the traditional backyard barbecue and tie in beautifully to a high-seas theme. Treat guests to an irresistible, seasonal strawberry trifle afterward.
Because the summer solstice has an element of mysticism (for some), consider invoking the spirit of summer by having guests bring a treasured token from summers past. A seashell, tropical souvenir or travel artifact will be great conversation pieces.
Create a bohemian-style dining area in which several connected wood pallets serve as a long table. Place colorful, bright, patterned cushions for guests to use for seating. Leave room on the table for your guests’ summer treasures.
If your solstice soiree is outdoors, string up white lights as well as wrap them around any tree trunks. Battery-operated candles on the table and surrounding areas is another way to brighten the backyard.