With summer in full swing, who isn’t looking for ways to slip more fun into their daily routines? With just the people and tools you have around you, it doesn’t take much to turn an everyday dinner into something exceptional. Whether you’re hosting a few friends for a small get together in your backyard or throwing a just-because party with your family, thinking of whoever you’re dining with as your guest of honor is step one for planning a festive at-home event. Make sure your camera is nearby, put on your favorite music, and get ready for an evening to remember!

Most of us grew tired of loungewear months ago and returned to the world of real pants and buttons, but how many have dressed up for dinner since before stay at home orders were put in place? If you’re having company over or not, pulling out clothes that feel special from the back of your closet will set the mood for an event!

In that same vein, setting the scene will help get you and your distinguished guests get in the spirit. Think about how you decorate the space for holidays by properly setting the table, pulling out your favorite dinnerware, and using seasonal accents to finish your tablescape. Even something simple like putting out flowers from your regular grocery store can make a space feel transformed! Mood lighting like string lights or candles also makes a huge impact with something you probably have tucked away in a closet somewhere.

Once you’re set up, starting the evening with a cocktail or mocktail hour in the group is the perfect way to kick off a celebration. With more breweries offering home delivery and pickup, ordering a couple of brews will give you the chance to taste new varieties and support a local business while you’re at it! To recreate the brewery experience at home, serve tasting sized pours and line them up based on color or flavor profile. If you keep the labels or website description nearby, you can easily reference them while you move through the samplings together! If beer isn’t your thing, test your sommelier skills with a blindfolded wine tasting. If you think you can tell the difference between a red and a white without the ability to see them, you may be surprised by how difficult it is!

As for the menu itself, take advantage of the season by heading to your local farmers market and letting the available ingredients plan your menu! Depending on where you live, leafy greens, citrus, and avocados are at their peak and make the perfect base for a summer salad course. You can also get creative with your grill by throwing on some halved lemons, making them sweeter, juicer, and perfect for squeezing on main dishes or sides! For dessert, grilled fruits like peaches or pineapple are on a whole new level topped with ice cream or sorbet.

Planned or spontaneous, large or small, your cause for celebration can be as simple as appreciating the beautiful weather or just the fact that you’re together! For those focusing on practicing mindfulness at this time, finding small moments of joy to celebrate is a way to practice gratitude with those you love.