Summertime Chi is busy. Everyone wants to find that friend of a friend who has a boat. And when that doesn’t happen, we turn our attention to rooftops and patios. So this year, I’ve decided to put a twist on dinner parties and create a patio party series.
Once or twice a month this summer, I’m taking my networking skills to my home and inviting people over for brunch or dinner. I start by reaching out to people I want to catch up with or meet IRL and invite them to come cook and dine at Windy City Cosmo’s patio.
I wanted to share with you my patio party series and hopefully you’ll find your own summer twist on dinner parties.
Creating the Look:
You can have dinner anywhere – but I’m a settings person. I need the flowers, the candles, the comfort and the company. So far, I’ve had a brunch patio party and a dinner patio party.
For the dinner patio party, I brought out my Christmas white lights and strung them over my terrace. Then I picked up an Off! candle (or you can be fancy and make your own bug repelling candles). Add a lot of wine and it’s a perfect girl’s night.
For the brunch patio party, I woke up early and had a beautiful bouquet of purple roses from celebrity’s favorite florist, Ode á la Rose. There’s something about waking up to the smell of fresh roses that makes me smile. It was a hot day, but the flowers looked lavish in their signature box.
I added them to my patio table to brighten up the setting and add some plants to my concrete patio. I tried to grow my own rose garden (and only one rose grew last year), so I appreciated the help.
Cooking and Bonding:
Girl’s Dinner Party Edition:
It’s true that you bond when you cook together.
For the dinner party, I invited over Chicago food blogger and Time Out Chicago Tastemaker, Mary Mangia. She’s like, “we’re making pasta.” We both split up the ingredients and bought them. It was cute because I’ve never actually cooked dinner with someone like this and I loved it. I bought fresh basil for the first time and it was just domestic af.
We opened the bottle of champagne and chopped and sautéed in my kitchen. As we let the sauce simmer and thicken, we went out on the patio and quickly realized that I didn’t own a wine opener. Mid-talk about someone’s bad date, I headed to Mariano’s to find the most complex wine-opener ever.
We ended the night learning more about each other’s careers, relationships, and how we really are just a bunch of pasta loving bitches. Case in point, we met up at Summer Truffle Festival at Eataly a few weeks later.
Can You Cut a Watermelon Edition:
Brunch is one of the best parts of Chicago summers. I use to have a designated brunch friend and every weekend we would travel throughout the city for gourmet French toast or savory chicken and waffles. But I was glad to make my go-to scrambled eggs with a side of asparagus (yes, for some reason I like this combo, Thank you Whole30), and sausage.
I’m not going to lie, I impulse bought a personalized watermelon and thought this was the opportune moment to bring it out. My friend and Instagrammer, Lee Lepe from Chicago Standard, came to my rescue and brought out his picnic skills by cutting the watermelon for me.
It was cute and we turned my basic breakfast into a lavish brunch fit for discussing when we were going to check out Happy Place (because we’re the only ones who haven’t jumped into the sunshine ball pit). We finished brunch and headed off on our next adventure – heading to Ulta to spray tan.
How to Host a Patio Party Without Cooking For Yourself Recap:
We’re in Chicago – we all don’t have rooftop pools, so the next best thing is patio parties. This is like the one time you can host from your studio apartment.
Make a list of people you want to get to know better or catch up between their Paris vacation (seriously who isn’t in France right now?).
Add some ambiance to your patio. If it’s a day party or brunch, I suggest flowers. For a dinner patio party, make sure to get some bug spray and either light up lanterns or string lights.
Don’t put all the pressure on yourself. Cooking can be very difficult. I get that you want to impress everyone, but it’s so much better when you invite Chicago foodie’s and add an activity to your dinner party. Cook the meal together – not by yourself – and make sure you have a wine opener.
Cheers to more patio parties and more connections in the city.
Do you know what’s better than a dinner party? A PATIO dinner party! Last night me and the pasta loving bitch #foodblogger @marymangia taught me how to make Bucatini all’ amatriciana. We then popped bubbly and shared our infamous dating lives. Can’t wait for my next patio guest because honestly there’s no better way to bond than over a bottle of wine enjoying #summertimechi 😘
Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.