A great group of friends, the warm sun, with the hint of a cool breeze…now that sounds like summer to us! We are beyond excited that summer is right around the corner. Summertime equals party time! If you are from a small town in Texas, this will sound familiar. If you are not, here is a quick rundown of what summer usually looks like. It’s simple: A cold beer, fishing in a tank, and surrounding yourself with friends and family as often as possible. With that being said, what better way to welcome this wonderful time of year than hosting an intimate fish fry? Don’t let the beer and fish scare you away. You can still throw a very classy, even an uppity get together that everyone will enjoy.
When we first began hosting many years ago, let’s just say it was not the fa la la, kumbaya everything was perfect from beginning to the end kind of parties. Ugh no. It was more like us stressing ourselves out, stressing our husbands out, and to top off that awesomeness of stress, we would be in a full-blown sweat right as the guests were arriving. With the heat that Texas brings, oh it was bad. Like two or three rounds to the bathroom replacing the deodorant, so we did not get "B-O" bad. Do you know what we're sayin? It honestly was miserable, and we could never just sit and enjoy the party. Does anything like this sound familiar? Have you ever felt this way? Well, there is some good news! After many years of practicing, critiquing, and gaining tips (especially from our great-aunt, Marilyn, “the cream of the crop with hosting”), we now feel confident with hosting a smooth running gathering. Do you know what’s even better? Our deodorant bill was cut in half. Just kidding! But in all seriousness, we could finally relax and cherish the conversations with our guests. Hopefully, after reading our blog, you are set and ready to host an amazing, classy fish fry that your family, friends, and more importantly YOU can enjoy!
So, let's get started!
Plan, Plan, Plan Ahead
To throw a well-organized fish fry you must plan. Nothing is worse than getting that last-minute invite! A good hostess gives guests at least 2 weeks before the date of the party, so everybody can put it on their schedule. You can either get fancy with mailing an invitation or just a phone call, but if you actually want guests to show up and show up in a positive mood- GIVE AT LEAST TWO WEEKS! This provides you and your guest time to prepare for the party from getting sitters for their children to planning out an outfit. Also, a week before the fish fry, plan out your menu and make sure it accommodates all of your guests. You don't want to be a rude, unprepared hostess! Double-check with your guests about allergies or if there are any certain diet restrictions. It is essential that everyone feels welcomed and thought about. It would show bad taste if someone wasn't able to eat because you didn't consider their needs as you planned the menu.
Color Coordinate, Map out the Party, and Rent Supplies
This is going to sound crazy, we know. With technology these days, you know a camera is going to come out at one point or another. If you are wanting that picture-perfect photo, you and your guests are going to have to flow- not matchy, matchy but flow. So making sure that everyone is within the three or four colors of the party is ideal.
We even take it a step forward and color coordinate our tablescapes and invites. Again, it sounds crazy but check out those pictures! Any of those pictures are Facebook/Instagram worthy. Why? Because the colors all flow. With that being said, it's pretty important to think about the colors of the get together in advance. Speaking about flowing, it's important to think about how you want the party to flow such as where to put drink stations, tables, etc.... our suggestion is to think about where you want guests to go at the beginning of the party for appetizers, for dinner, drink stations, and after dinner. All of these areas need to be planned out and even better drawn out. We go as far as drawing what decor we are going to put in all these areas. This makes set up a breeze before the party especially if you recruit other people to help. Even though it's a ton of work at the beginning, we promise it pays off BIG TIME the day of the party.
Finally, if you don't have enough supplies, you can always check out your local party supplies rental store. There have been a number of times that we rented table cloths or trays for a weekend get-together. It is an inexpensive, budget-friendly way that delivers a high impact, but at the same time be a life-saver so you do not have to wait for something to be delivered.
Catch the Fish
Okay...this one is optional, but it is a total bragging right here in Texas! And ladies, let’s be honest, it’s also the perfect opportunity to slip the Hunter rain boots on. What better way to impress your guests than to catch your own fish. Even better, it’s a wonderful way to get the entire family together and excited about the party. Our husbands, Zach and Cam, took the kids out to the ponds on our property to catch the fish for the fish fry. This made for a great conversation starter at the dinner table, and our kids got to walk with their heads held high because they provided the food. If you don't want to catch your fish, no big deal. Just grab your favorite type at your local grocery store, and it will still do the trick!
Make-Ahead Sides and Appetizers
Do yourself a favor and prepare the sides ahead of time! Our easy side dishes were coleslaw and potato salad. They are super simple recipes, and the best part....you are not trying to cook right before guests arrive! We have a wonderful coleslaw recipe on the blog, and we used The Pioneer Woman's Potato Salad recipe. The potato salad tastes just like the way our Dad used to make it. It is delicious and has that wonderful "old-fashion" flavor to it. We promise you will love it! Positive Note- both dishes also get better the longer they sit in the fridge, so you can't go wrong with these.
Set the Table Ahead of Time
We live on a hill, and it gets tornado type winds. Like Dorothy holding Toto, saying I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more kinds of winds. To keep from catching table cloths the entire party, we decided to put the table in the barn. We suggest finding a location for your table that you can set ahead of time. We set up in the morning, to save time and not be rushed that afternoon. Again, this is one of those simple steps that pay off in the long run.
Set the Drink Station Ahead of Time Too
Another tip is to have the drink station prepared when you set up the table. This way you just have to pour the tea, lemonade, punch, water, etc...into the dispensers right before the guests arrive and put the wine and beer in ice. Again, planning and setting up a few hours before the guests arrive makes a huge impact on your stress level and mood for the party. We promise....we know from experience. You can just ask our husbands!
Don't Forget to Greet Your Guests
Often the host or hostess are setting up or in the kitchen cooking and completely forget the most important part of the party...visiting family and friends. If you plan and prepare, you will be excited and ready to greet all your guests and spend the precious time catching up. Which is exactly why you had the party in the first place, right?
Again, isn't this why are you entertaining? To not only provide a great experience for your guests but also to create memories for you and your family. We have made the mistake so many times of trying to make everything so perfect that we forget to just enjoy ourselves. By the time we are ready to relax and visit, it's time for everyone to leave. Again, plan, plan, plan, try not to be stressed, and once the guests arrive start enjoying yourself! Remember....your guests love seeing a beautiful, well put together party; however, they are there because they love and want to see you!
We hope this guide inspires you to want to throw a fish fry and gives you some simple tips to make it a success!! If you apply these easy steps, it will be an eye-catching party that you and your guests will talk about for years to come!
Please comment below if you have any tips for entertaining or throwing a fish fry. We are always up for learning new strategies.
All Our Love, amber & brooke