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Hosting A Tomato Girl Summer Dinner Party

garden gathering tomatoes Jun 21, 2024

Imagine you're on a relaxing European vacation with plenty of sunshine and wildflowers adorning a quiet little corner of the Italian countryside.  You're enjoying a simple, romantic dinner under string lights. There is a little breeze and a lot of wine.  Soft Italian music is barely heard as laughter fills the space.  Now imagine bringing this to your own backyard. This is a tomato girl summer.  The trend that is sweeping social media encourages followers to enjoy the slow paced European countryside even if they won't be traveling to Europe this summer.  This idea is often characterized by an emphasis on quality over quantity and a focus on enjoying simple pleasures.  Now this is a trend we can get behind.  And for the backyard gardener, the peak of tomato season seems like the perfect time to fully embrace the idea of a summer that is slow and beautiful, and well, all about the tomato girl.  


A tomato girl dinner party seemed like the perfect way to celebrate the jewel of the summer garden.  And it did not disappoint. One thing to remember is this. If a tomato girl summer is laid back and effortless, the dinner party should be too.  Take the pressure of perfection out.  This is simple.  This is easy. This is relaxing.  And, it is oh so fun!  Here is how we planned and pulled off one of the most fun nights ever.  And be sure to read all the way to the end.  We added a fun touch to the night that really set this party over the top!!  



Create The Vibe


The tomato girl summer vibe must permeate every inch of the dinner party.  This is where the magic lies.  Use string lights and hang them everywhere, most importantly hang them over the table!  This will be the perfect touch as the sun goes down.  Add to the relaxing vibe by covering tables with white flowing table cloths like THESE and make sure you have the portable speaker charged. You will want to use it for background music.  There are lots of great playlists on Spotify. Simply search "tomato girl summer" for a catchy playlist that you and your guests will love.  You'll be amazed at what comes up.



Dress Like A Tomato Girl


Believe it or not, tomato girl attire is one of the easiest ways to bring magic to the night.  When all guests arrive in red and white flowing dresses and sun hats and scarfs it elevates the experience for everyone.  There is something about a flowing dress under string lights that feels like pure magic.  So state a dress code...something like, "Come dressed in your best tomato girl attire.  Think flowing skirts, scarfs, and of course red" to let guests know to show up and show out.  It generates excitement for the evening as everyone shops for the perfect tomato girl skirt.



Make It Potluck


One thing I have learned over the years of hosting parties is that you cannot create a menu on your own that will even come close to the variety and beauty that a potluck style dinner can offer.  When you make your dinner party potluck, your guests get to contribute to the meal, and it always so fun to see what everyone brings.  We had everything from tomato pies to pasta salad, charcuterie boards, tomato jam, fresh salsa, tomato puff pastries, and focaccia bread.  Our guests understood the assignment and by having to only focus on one dish, they were able to go all out.  It made the meal all the more fun and delicious and was the perfect option for such a themed dinner. Consider pot luck for your next dinner party, and see what you think!



Set The Table


The focus of any dinner party is of course the food, but when planning a tomato girl dinner party, you must set the stage for the food too!  Keeping with the tomato girl vibe, use lots of color, and clutter the table with flowers and fruit, and any other trinkets you can find laying around the house.  We used lemons and limes, garden gnomes, and even bottles of sparkling water. And it was perfect.  Our guests loved the convenience of being able to pour themselves a glass of San Pellegrino instead of having to get up for a refill, and the beauty of the bottles only added to our table decor.  Perfection! 


When choosing dinnerware for your tomato girl summer dinner party, think bold and colorful.  I was inspired by the beautiful tiles of Italy and toille.  You just can't go wrong.  Channel your inner tomato girl while searching online for the best disposable plates and don't be afraid to mix and match different patterns.  



Setting the table is simple.  Start with the table cloth, add a runner down the middle of the table for dimension. Then add the decorations you have collected and then set the plates, napkins, and utensils for each guest to give the feel of a true dinner party.  Guests can grab their plates when dinner is served, and it is just fun.  There is a time a place for stacks of plates at the buffet, but this isn't it.  A beautifully set table is so tomato girl summer, so go all out.


I should also add that we used scarfs and dish towels to create beauty underneath all of the food dishes as well. This cost nothing but a trip around the house for gathering, but it added so much!


Prepare A Cocktail Station

This was probably the best decision we made for our guests.  I knew that as much as we were creating vibe of the Italian countryside for the night, we would still have heat, humidity, and bugs to contend with. I knew the food would have to stay inside, but having the cocktails front and center in the middle of the yard, now that we could make work.  I set up a simple cocktail station, just a small round patio table with drink dispensers all around the edge, added a table cloth and an ice chest underneath, and it was perfect.  We chose to offer three mocktails and one alcoholic beverage, and everyone loved them all.  Having the drinks outdoors made it easy to refill our glasses and try all of the beverages.  That was fun!  We noticed our guests hanging out "around the water cooler" aka the cocktail station more than once during the course of the evening, so we knew it was a hit. 



Great Mocktail Recipes For A Tomato Girl Dinner Party


Tomato Girl Tonic


  • 5-6 Large Ripe Tomatoes (Any variety will do here, but just make sure they are really great tomatoes.)
  • 1/2 Cup of Fresh Basil
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1L Tonic Water
  • 1 bottle of champagne or Prosecco (optional, if not using add another liter of tonic water)
  • 1 Tbsp. Smoked Sea Salt for Garnishing the Rim (Regular Salt would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Glaze for Garnishing the Rim 


  • Make basil simple syrup by combing sugar, water, and basil in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil.  Remove from heat and let the syrup sit for 10 minutes.  Remove basil from syrup and chill thoroughly. 
  • Roughly quarter tomatoes and add to food processor and pulse until they are pureed.
  • Strain the tomato juice through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
  • In a gallon pitcher, combine tomato juice and basil simple syrup and stir well.
  • Add tonic water and champagne (if using) and stir well.
  • Dip the rim of each glass in balsamic glaze followed by the smoked salt.
  • Place ice cubes in the glass and then pour cocktail over top.
  • Garnish with basil and skewered tomatoes and serve immediately.


The Queen's Mojito 


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups lime juice
  • 1L Ginger Ale or Club Soda


  • Prepare simple syrup by combining sugar and water in small sauce pan over medium/high heat until dissolved, add mint leaves, and let completely cool.
  • Add simple syrup to the bottom of a pitcher, including mint leaves, do not muddle.
  • Add lime juice and ginger ale to pitcher.
  • Stir and adjust the ingredients to taste (more lime juice, club soda, etc.) Garnish with fresh mint or lime wedges or rounds.


"It's Strawberry Thyme" Spritzer


  • 80 medium strawberries 
  • 40 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 1L club soda


  • Prepare simple syrup by combining sugar and water in small sauce pan over medium/high heat until dissolved, add thyme, and let completely cool.
  • Add strawberries and lemon juice to food processor and roughly puree to release juices.
  • Add strawberries and simple syrup to pitcher
  • Add club soda to pitcher and serve over ice


Wild Child Lemonade


  • 8 scoops of Country Time Lemonade
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1L ginger ale
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • herbs and fruit from garden to taste


  • Add water to large pitcher
  • Add lemonade powder and stir well to dissolve
  • Add lemon juice and ginger ale and stir well
  • Top the pitcher with lemon slices and fruit and herbs from garden. My favorites are blue berries raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, mint, rosemary, basil, and thyme.


Another fun idea for the cocktail station could be a wine bar. This would fit the aesthetic perfectly, and it could be beautiful and lots of fun. Simply add buckets of ice to the table top to keep the wine chilled and enjoy!


Add A Photo Opportunity


When guests arrive and you are busy with food preparation and taking purses, a photo opportunity is the perfect "time buyer."  This allows guests to come in, grab a cocktail and take a few pictures.  How fun!  This small element really added to the vibe of the night.  We had THIS photo backdrop and guests were transported to the Tuscan countryside right in my own backyard.  This was a great addition to the party and one we will definitely include again.



End The Evening With A Tomato Tasting


We created this tomato girl summer dinner party for the annual Wild Child Garden Club's "Tomato Tasting," but why not add sampling your guests best tomatoes to the evening's itinerary?  This was a great way to end the dinner party and also left us all inspired with new varieties of tomatoes to grow next year.  Simply ask guests to bring their prized tomatoes, cut them up, and place them in bowls for sampling.  Because a "blind" tomato tasting contest was the focus of the evening, we added numbers to keep track of the deliciousness, but you don't have to go that far.  The variety name would be enough for a great tasting.  You could even divide up the tomatoes and pass out wooden cutting boards to every table to simplify it even more.  However you decide to do it, just make sure you add this fun element to your evening.  It was the perfect way to end the night. We lingered and sampled tomatoes and lingered and sampled some more. It was delightful getting to share about the different varieties.  We started lists of tomatoes we want to grow in the future, and the best tasting tomato of the evening was a 'Better Boy' earning its owner the crown and title of 'Wild Child Mater Queen.'   Is "There She Is Miss America" a little over the top? Maybe. But our queen enjoyed walking through the crowd as it played, taking in every second of her glory.  She is after all, tomato royalty now.  



Hosting a dinner party doesn't have to be complicated.   It doesn't have to be stressful, and it can really be fun!!!  And when you have a garden, the gatherings only get easier!!  To learn more about hosting a fun night in your garden, check out Easy Garden Gatherings where you will learn the how and the why behind hosting people you love in your garden.  Low pressure, low stress, low cost, high fun!!!


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