Well friends, it’s official. The first day of Fall is here! But it has me feeling a little torn. Now I luv summer as much as the next girl. Long days, warm temps, dreamy afternoons spent on a beach {or at least dreaming of one}. But I also love when the seasons change. It always feels like a breath of fresh air. A new beginning if you will. And just because summer is saying see ya, doesn’t mean entertaining season is ending. Oh contraire! We’ve actually been enjoying a seriously gorgeous Indian Summer in San Francisco right now. So I say set aside a little time to gather friends and enjoy that waning evening light while we still can! In fact, we did exactly that last weekend and the results were equal parts yummy and lovely – if I do say so myself!

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Our mission was simple. Gather some of our favorite ladies for an impromptu happy hour. The ingredients for a successful happy hour aren’t complicated either. Copious amounts of easy to snack on food, a killer outdoor patio and a fabulous drink of course. But remember, just because something’s impromptu doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty! Today we’re revealing our tricks to creating a stunning little feté in no time flat {seriously!}.

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Step 1: Set the scene. An outdoor patio decked with a farm table and bench seating is easy and relaxed. We were lucky enough that our table happened to be marble-topped but any wood table would be just as pretty. A string or two of cafe lights are extra nice touch. You can leave them up pretty much all year ’round. A few simple flower arrangements plucked straight from the garden are also a thoughtful detail.

Step 2: Don’t skimp on your place settings. When you want to up the ante for your gathering, paper and plastic just won’t do. But again, you don’t need to slave away. We relied on the services of Mrs. Peasy Party Box Rentals who provides gorgeous plates, flatware and glasses for rent! She’s got pre-designed boxes featuring gorgeous items like Heath Ceramics dishware and vintage cutlery. Or you can do what we did and simply mix and match your own set up. The best part? You can drop it all off dirty so your end of party clean up is pretty much done before you even start. It’s genius.

Step 3: Create a humble feast. For our happy hour we decided to create the charcuterie board of champions. But again the task required little else than a power shopping trip at Trader Joe’s and an epic 3-foot long wood board. Cured meats, crackers, cheese, olives, pickles, fresh berries & figs, dried fruit, nuts and our little trade secret – fresh flowers created a truly stunning display. Piling everything high makes your board so pretty you almost don’t want to dig in and mess it all up. Almost.

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Step 4: Serve a signature drink! The true star of our party was our cocktail – the Aperol Spritz! Now this drink is near and dear to my heart. A traditional Italian apertif, Chris and I enjoyed a Spritz (or 5 or 6!) in Venice – the drink’s actual birthplace – during our honeymoon and I’ve loved them ever since. They’re totally refreshing – a true before dinner sipper. And the best part? They’re super easy to make. No professional mixologist skills needed here. You’re not concocting homemade syrups or adding tinkshers with eye droppers. The recipe is so simple every party guest can whip up one for themselves – yet another way to take some pressure off of you! Don’t worry – we’ve got the recipe for you at the bottom of this post!

But first we have to give you the final step in our happy hour master plan.

Step 5: Sit back, relax and have a grand old time!! There’s nothing better than some quality catch up time with girl friends. Even with today’s overly packed schedules, offering a chance to enjoy a refreshing drink, a bite to eat and some great conversation is pretty irresistible. We’re quite confident your girls will show up for a gathering like this #squadgoals.

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Recipe: The Aperol Spritz

3 parts prosecco
2 parts aperol
1 splash of seltzer

Add a few ice cubes to a wine glass. We actually used oversized square cubes in our drinks. Pour in your prosecco. Then add your Aperol. Top with a generous splash of seltzer. Give your drink a swirl, garnish with orange slices & an orange peel twist if you like! Betcha can’t enjoy just one!!

 

original photography for apartment 34 by ashley batz // florals by natalie bowen designs // dishware by mrs. peasy // styling by erin hiemstra + bianca sotelo // produced by bianca sotelo

This post is in partnership with Aperol. All thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% our own. Thanks for supporting partnerships that help keep Apartment 34’s doors open!

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19 Comments

  1. Seemed like you really enjoyed your time together! Now, I’m tagging my old friends. Where art thou? 😀

  2. LOVING the board!! Where did you get it? Great party idea, too 🙂

  3. I can do this entire thing! We have oranges and figs growing in our property. Herbs are plentiful. I could add more to the board, but I need that board! The rest we can buy. Thanks so much! There should be a man or two in the photos. It’s not a girl thing. It’s entertaining friends! Just saying…….

  4. Love it! Easy to read! Simple and good ideas. Delicious photography!

  5. I have also featured your photo and this post on my blog
    intimatesuppers.wordpress.com

  6. I love everything about this. Where did you get your epic 3 foot board from? I haven’t been able to find one that size, and I think it’s perfect!

    1. I found it at a San Francisco based store called Hudson Grace Catherine, but you can find similar ones online

  7. Love it!!! Incredible how its placed on the table so clean and sassy……expectacular…sorry i might copy it

  8. Good choice and mix of food /drinks. Backyard , table style , relax mood. Good photography. Love it

  9. OMG! I found this post by accident at this ungodly hour and I’m in love! I can’t wait to make a similar delicious and beautiful board. I’ve never had this drink, but I am ready to sample this apparent delight! Thank you!

  10. I love this! Reminds me when I stayed in Germany with my older cousin. Just gorgeous
    With no fuss.
    .

  11. This looks so wonderful, both the food but especially the presentation.
    It would be impossible for your guests not to be totally impressed.
    Well done, you are very creative and thoughtful.

  12. Looks amazing, so inviting.
    I can’t wait to try this at our home.
    Where did you purchase the wooden board?
    Cheers!