This summer, my family and I decided to rent a lakefront home in Idaho for one week. I was fortunate enough to be able to host a dinner party with friends who vacation there, so you can imagine the excitement at having an amazing water view for my gathering. We don’t have many lakefront dinners in Arizona, so this was such a treat.
One of the unknowns, however, was what the rental house had stocked for my dinner party, so it required a bit of pre-planning as well as some improvisation.
Here’s a quick list for reference:
|What to Pack||What to Plan Ahead||What to Get There|
|Place mats||Table & chair rental||Flowers & table decor|
|Linen napkins||Dinner menu & recipes||Plates & glassware|
|Table linens||Dessert order||Servingware|
|Name cards||Guest list||Ingredients & wine|
Read on to find out how I pulled it off and for tips to tuck away if you’re ever in this situation.
How do you compete with a beautiful lake view? You don’t, instead you use it to your advantage. I chose teal circular straw place mats from Target that I purchased beforehand (buy them here) and put in my son’s suitcase (he didn’t need all that room anyway) to play off the darker water hue at dusk. The rental had basic white plates and serveware, thank goodness, which were a perfect contrast against the place mats. Alternating seersucker napkins from Anthropolgie (they’re reversible!) with a semi-frayed trim and white linen table runner with a lighter teal stripe tied in the color scheme. I brought the napkins and runner — they weighed nearly nothing, so my son didn’t even know they were in there.
Tables & chairs
Of course I wasn’t lucky enough to find a long harvest table and 14 chairs waiting for me at the house, so I knew I’d have to rent them. I contacted a local party rental company ahead of time to reserve the table and chairs. I was able to negotiate the price and delivery fee because my party was on a weeknight (make sure you ask any rental company for a weeknight rental discount if you have the flexibility to schedule your party around the week rather than the weekend).
This was a bit of challenge as our rental house did not have any vases and I wasn’t about buy any. Using juice glasses that I found in the cabinets, I decided to arrange an ombré of coral, orange and peach colored flowers. There weren’t any florists open during the week we were there, so the local grocery store became my floral source. I actually had to start purchasing the flowers a few days before the party and went every day until I had bought them out of orange flowers. Only using one type of flower per vase kept it simple, easy and elegant – one of my favorite flower hacks! A sprig cut from the lavender bushes around the property provided the finishing touch on the napkins. Candles were too heavy and risky to travel with, so I purchased these votive candles on Amazon Prime the day we arrived and had them shipped to the rental house for a total of $20 for 2 dozen. They added a soft glow to the already beautiful light of dusk reflecting off the lake. I left them there for the next renter. You’re welcome.
The local farmer’s market was the source for most of the food I prepared, from the grass-fed steaks to the fresh corn, peppers, and herbs. My friends shared the name of a fabulous bakery in town, where I purchased a mouth-watering fresh huckleberry pie. Pure bliss!
My motto is always keep it simple, especially when you’re in a foreign kitchen. Easy baked salmon, sliced grilled steak, Ina’s Confetti Corn, and an arugula, watermelon and feta salad were perfect for this fete. And wine, of course. Of course, wine.
What a night in a gorgeous setting enjoying the company of friends and family — a little bit of planning, a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of fun! My kind of dinner.