How to host a long luncheon

Summer is just around the corner. Seeing the clear blue skies and spring flowers in full bloom at the moment, causes my mind to drift to long leisurely lunches.


If you are thinking of ways to liven up your weekend afternoons, consider hosting a long luncheon in your backyard or on your balcony. It’s perfect match for this time of year.


Why a long lunch?

Lunch parties tend to be a more casual affair than evening entertaining, meaning you can keep costs and preparation time down. Also evenings over the festive season tend to fill up quickly, so you are more likely to find a clear afternoon amongst your friends.


The idea with a long lunch is to sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company for a few hours. Let your guests know this. Invite them to arrive a little later in the day, say around 1pm so that the lunch can spill out into the afternoon.


What do I serve?

Consider a theme with the food. Italian, Greek & Mediterranean come to mind, as they live and breathe long lazy lunches! Or you could opt for a Texan BBQ or Mexican fiesta theme.


Serve a few courses and enjoy them slowly. You will want to spend as much time as possible sitting at the table with your guests so think about food that can be prepared in advance or things that will require just a few minutes to finish off before you serve. Antipasti platters with grilled vegetables, sliced meats and cheeses, or poached fish & grilled meats served at room temperature with wholesome salads. Lay an assortment of platters along the middle of the table for guests to help themselves.


Another option could be a buffet style luncheon. Start off with a few nibbles (dips & flat breads, olives etc). Then set up a taco bar or a pita pocket & wrap station. Prepare an assortment of fillings and have your guests choose their favourites and make their own.


For desserts choose petit fours, platters of fresh fruit or something light like a berry filled meringue layer cake.


Keep beverages light. Champagne, beer, white wines and rose. A punch, Sangria or Pimms would spice things up a bit. Have plenty of water and non-alcoholic options available.


What else do I need to know?

Don’t make the table too formal. The idea is that people should relax and linger, so allow for mixed plates and cutlery, rumpled napkins and informal flowers.


Also don’t forget your guest’s comfort. In the hotter summer months provide shade, sun screen and if Mozzies are an issue, light coils and have repellant handy.


Let me know if you are planning any long luncheons this Summer or have hosted a fabulous one in the past. If you would like more entertaining tips you can find them in my book, The High-Heeled Hostess.