This post is sponsored by Nestlé, which compensated me to partner with California Pizza Kitchen® frozen pizza and share news about the “Adventures in Entertaining” campaign this summer.
About a month ago, we moved from a unit in our building to another unit in our building. The upside to the move: bigger space, extra bedrooms, a chance to start fresh (hello, DIYprojects!), and a gorgeous rooftop deck. The downside to the move: moving. Let’s face it, even if you’re moving 200 feet, moving is tough and requires a lot of planning and patience.
That’s where a good party comes in.
When one thinks of summer, outdoors, and food, the first thing that usually comes to mind is a good ol’ barbecue. So as part of my Adventures in Entertaining campaign with California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizza (CPK ), I thought nothing could be better than hosting a summer rooftop BBQ party, not only to give me some serious motivation to get those boxes unpacked and pictures hung, but also, of course, to celebrate the season and our new home!
Just like the wine and pizzapairing party, all guests had to do was come hungry and thirsty. From the beginning, I wanted guests to get a sense of the airiness that you feel on our rooftop deck and set the stage for some of the vibrant colors that would be displayed throughout the event. So I opted for this beautiful custom built invitation from Paperless Post. On the “envelope” for guests, I made sure to include names of children as well so that guests knew that this was a fun family event for everyone.
We live in a three-story townhome and the rooftop deck is off the den on the third story. Instead of having guests trek up and down the stairs for food and drink, I opted to put two long tables against each wall outside, one for food and one for drinks. I wanted to create a real summer, country BBQ feel so I purchased some blue and white kitchen towels as well traditional red and white tea/kitchen towels. I simply sowed them all together at the ends. I used leftover towels to line baskets for chips and bread rolls.
Using canvas, burlap, red twine, and red stamped letters from a stencil, I created a garland that hung from the wooden rafts on our deck, below the string lights, so guests could get into the entertaining and party mood immediately with CPK pizza. I also found an old box at a flea market recently, which I filled with succulents and placed it in the middle of the table. This made a great focal point and helped tie in the casual, country feel that I was going for.
On a hot day, nothing is more important than making sure your guests stay hydrated. I filled three big, clean galvanized buckets with ice. In one, we filled two with sparkling, flavored waters and sodas in old- fashioned bottles and in the other bucket we filled with beer. (It is a BBQ!)
On my drink station table, covered with the blue cloth, I set out mason jars, tied with red and white baker’s rope and a tag. I created a sign with natural cardstock and a mason jar stamp that instructed guests to take a cup and write their name on it.
Next to the sign, which I placed in a vintage wooden frame, I filled an aqua tin with pastel-colored striped and dotted straws (that coordinated with the colors on the invite). I put cut-up limes in a plastic tray with a checkered liner and had a corkscrew handy for beers and bottles. Finally, all good hostesses have to have their “signature” move, so much like my wine and pizza pairing party, I “put a stamp” on my party must-do by stamping the beverage napkins with my mason jar stamp.
To keep the cocktails light and summery, I served cucumber margaritas and a vodka strawberry lemonade. To make the margarita, I simply used a premade margarita mix and added cucumber juice (oh, do I love my juicer!) and fresh sliced cucumbers. For the vodka cocktail, I juiced about 15 lemons (oh, yes), a bottle of vodka (double yes), club soda, some agave nectar, and sliced strawberries. The combination was divine! I served the drinks out of hammered glass beverage servers and used a chalkboard label as a tag with twine to let guests know the goodness they were getting. I, of course, had a water station available for the non-drinkers and kiddies.
Much like the hanging garland and lights, I think it’s important that parties have high and low focal points. And since eating is pretty important at a BBQ, I opted to hang a bulletin board with a rustic frame from one of my posts next to the buffet. Using the same cardstock as the cocktail station and a different stamp (I’m seriously thinking this might be my signature!), I pinned the menu to the board.
I wanted guests to feel like they could graze all night, so I set up a small table under the menu, next to the buffet, encouraging guests to enjoy the delicious food Instead of plates, I opted for old-school red plastic diner baskets and checkered-paper liners. Both easy to clean and pretty green as you can reuse the baskets, this was such a cute touch and made it really easy for guests to eat.
To include the pops of color from the invitation and coordinate with the décor and accents on my own rooftop, I decided to take function a step further by painting the ends of wooden utensils with acrylic paint. Once dry, I put the utensils into large mason jars next to the baskets. Though totally easy and DIY-able, this was definitely a “hands on” and somewhat time-intensive project... But, I can hardly complain as it gave me an excuse to get crafty for two Mondays for about two hours while I watched “The Bachelorette.” Plus, I think little details like these make a difference at a party. Would you offer me the final rose? Ha, ha…
As the breeze upstairs started to set it, and guests enjoyed their cocktails, I had the main attraction “brewing,” or shall, I say “bubbling…” Hot CPK BBQ Recipe Chicken Pizzas. This pizza is a crazy good combo of BBQ sauce, smoked gouda, mozzarella, and grilled chicken. Perfect addition to a rooftop barbecue!
I found pizza-parlor type, round tin trays and topped them with checkered lining. To serve them, (because I knew they’d go fast and didn’t stand a chance in the buffet line!), I placed the trays on a rustic looking box with a chalkboard cut out, which I labeled. And as I mentioned… the pizzas were a hit.
No meal is complete without something sweet… Especially when there are ten children running about. As a sidenote, this is what my son’s room looks (?)like… and what my office looked like while all the rooftop party was underway. (No décor tips on this one, folks. Thank god for cocktails).
But I digress… back to dessert…
I set up a dessert station and since social media is an obvious theme for this campaign and, well, my life, I called it the “Summertime Tweets N’ Sweets” station and carried the “tweet” theme through by stamping the napkins with “@.” (Oh, how I love to stamp!) Instead of traditional paper plates, I used plain craft food trays to make it easy to eat all the delicious desserts, including good ol’-fashioned vanilla ice cream and because they’re super cute and fit with the backyard/country feel I was going for.
Instead of party favors where I gave guests something to take home, we asked our guests to leave us a treat as a sort of a housewarming gift. Next to the sweet station, I used mini cloths pins to hang a bunch of leftover paint swatches from our move (hey, I had a tough time deciding!) I then asked guests to take a picture of themselves and pin to one of the paint chips (hopefully they took less time to decide on a color than we did). This was a fun element and by the end of the evening, we had a slew of photos that totally captured our first rooftop party in our new home!
Nothing sets a mood more than the perfect lighting… So, as the sun began to set, the flickering lights from our lanterns and string lights gave our rooftop a beautiful glow and made it feel like a true summer party.
All in all, this was one of the most memorable parties I’ve ever thrown and every detail added to the specialness of the occasion and the spirit of summer!
For more entertaining ideas and inspirations, check out my tips on the CPK Facebook and Pinterest pages!