Hosting Tips

How To Throw a Party When It’s Literally 100 Degrees Outside

Keep it cool, y’all.

By Chanel Dror
southern happy hour

If you’ve ever found yourself strolling Austin’s streets in August, then you know — the Texas heat is no joke. Living here, the rule of thumb for hanging with friends outside is generally that it must be by a body of water, making any home with a swimming pool the singular place to be this time of year.

As a proud new homeowner myself, I’ve been itching to have friends over to my new pad. But the No Pool Situation (NPS for short) makes it hard to round the troops on a blistering hot Saturday afternoon. Thank goodness for our screened-in porch, which has at long last begun to take shape and is finally ready for company.

Last week, we partnered with Kettle Brand Potato Chips to invite a few friends over for a weekday happy hour to take good old porchy for a test drive against the triple digit temps, and suffice it to say, she passed with flying colors. Keep reading for the heat-friendly menu, and my tips and tricks for having friends over during the dog days of summer… NPS be damned.

photography by Kate Zimmerman

This screened-in porch is quickly becoming a favorite corner of the house… and our plants love it too. The flower-filled, shady spot is the perfect place to set up a table and enjoy (read: endure) that southern summer air.

I got to work on some spiked sweet tea. It’s a simple combination of peach iced tea and vodka over ice, with fresh peaches, mint, and lemon slices for refreshing garnishes.

A few expert tips when it comes to surviving the elements this time of year: there’s no such thing as too many fans, and — my new personal favorite — citronella taper candles are a thing!

It’s a fact of life. Summer backyard hangs aren’t complete without crunchy, savory potato chips, and we’re team Kettle Brand all the way. You just can’t beat the great taste, and knowing that they’re less processed and made with real ingredients is an added bonus.

It may seem counterintuitive, but there’s actually a science to why people in hotter climates tend to eat spicier foods. Not only do spices act as an antimicrobial agent to keep food from spoiling in the heat, but they also cause you to sweat (duh), which is our body’s way of cooling off.

For this menu, I focused on southern foods that are easy to prep, and easy to eat — no flatware needed!

  • pickled okra, garnished with sliced garlic and chili peppers
  • pimento cheese tea sandwiches on pumpernickel
  • Kettle Brand chips in a variety of our favorite flavors
  • sliced watermelon
  • spiked sweet tea

Small mix-and-match china plates gave this gathering a sweet southern flavor, while my spread of satisfying finger foods made everyone feel relaxed and free to graze.

Here’s the recipe for Camille’s mom’s best-ever pimento cheese:

  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup grated monterrey jack
  • 1 4 oz. can diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pickled jalapeños
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • finely chopped chives or other fresh herbs, if desired

To make these tea sandwiches, press the pimento cheese along with some thinly sliced cucumber between two small points of pumpernickel bread.

Everyone has a go-to Kettle Brand chips flavor… what’s yours?