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Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party

Last weekend, on the longest day of the year, we threw our first Pop Up Dinner Party of the summer on the top of Bernal Hill in San Francisco…

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

This is my seventh pop-up dinner party and by now we’ve got this thing down pat. The first thing people ask me when they see this kind of party is “do you need a permit?” It depends on the place. After we decided to do it at Bernal Hill we called into the city and were pleased to find out that for parties under 30 people we didn’t need a permit. Bernal Hill is a pretty hill at the South of San Francisco that has awesome sweeping views of the entire city. In the past, we’ve done parties where we needed a permit but it’s usually not that big of a deal.

Sometimes I give my guests all the details but I usually like to leave some element of surprise. For this party I invited people to a secret midsummer dinner party, I told them that the location was a surprise and to dress warm and that I would send them information about where to go two hours before the party started.

When planning the party, sunset times are important. We decided we wanted the party to start about an hour and half before sunset, that gives you 30 minutes after sunset while it’s still light out to clean up (you can make a plan for lighting if you want to stay in the dark) San Francisco gets chilly after dark so we planned accordingly.

The set up can be a lot of work mostly because I usually want my guests to be surprised when they arrive so set up doesn’t have as many hands helping. Paul and I lugged everything up to the top of the hill (mostly Paul.)  For seating I have ikea stools I use that are really cheap and light and stack nicely. And for tables my favorite are these 6 ft folding tables that fold in half. In addition I always bring an extra prep table like this skinny long one. You could also rent tables and chairs for the evening. Here in San Francisco there are places where you can rent a table and chairs for under $30. We rented linens from a local company it’s about $10 and easier than buying my own. We brought plates and silverware from home, I keep a cheap set from Ikea on hand for things like this. I like plates and flatware to be sturdier so they don’t blow away in unexpected wind.

The food is usually the most complicated part of the party. I’ve learned to divvy up things so I’ll usually cover logistics and have a friend do the food. My friend Andrea Pimental made everything this time and it was amazing. We chose food that could be served at room temperature, so we didn’t have to worry about everything being hot when we arrived. Before we left home, we plated everything on large platters and covered them tightly in saran wrap. Once wrapped, the food was flat, so we could stack the platters on top of each other and fit them all into a large bag. When we got to our destination, we just had to unwrap the the platters and spruce up the food before serving family style. For drinks, we pre-mixed the Sangria in a large portable container and poured it into pitchers once we got to our location.

We used these delicious recipes off of Simply Organic‘s special summer site: Easy Summer Eats. I love Simply Organic because their spices and seasonings are the best quality. (Plus, they give 1% of all sales to organic farmers around the world.)  As everyone arrived, we served this Raspberry Ginger White Sangria. Then for dinner we served Ginger Miso Glazed Salmon (along with a fresh rice pilaf,) Grilled Asparagus Salad, and fresh bread. As the sun went down, we served Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs.

Clean up is usually quick because everyone helps. We bring big plastic containers to put the dirty plates in and I always bring a few extra garbage sacks to help transport everything at the end. And that’s it! Would you ever throw a pop-up dinner party? It’s so memorable and one of my favorite things to do in the summer.

If you’re interested in hosting a summer party like this, Simply Organic put together a fun quiz that helps you find  themes, menus, and decoration inspiration. Take the quiz here and share your favorite summer party ideas!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Simply-Organic5

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

Midsummer Pop Up Dinner Party | Oh Happy Day!

This post is sponsored by Simply Organic: Pure. Simple. Joy.

Photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day
Food by Andrea Pimental

  1. Heather

    June 25, 2015

    Um. This is amazing. How can I get invited next time??

  2. Deb

    June 25, 2015

    This is SUCH a great treat for you and your friends! I am going to try to do this at least once this summer. #inspiration

  3. JJ

    June 25, 2015

    Practical question here… Do you pick spots with nearby bathroom access?

  4. Theresa

    June 25, 2015

    The link to the quiz isn’t working for me :(

    • jordan
      • jordan
      • June 25, 2015

      Hey Theresa – should all be updated now. Thanks!

  5. Emily

    June 25, 2015

    you have completely inspired me. i am not sure when i will do a pop up but i am determined to do one before summer’s end!
    http://www.vivreblog.com

  6. Michaela

    June 25, 2015

    What is your favorite the local company to use for rentals?

  7. Julia

    June 25, 2015

    One of the best hilltop views in the Bay! Great idea, glad to hear it went well.

  8. Esther

    June 25, 2015

    Such a gorgeous view!

    http://thegirlswhobrunch.com

  9. Jenn

    June 25, 2015

    Ok, how do I get invited to one of these things?
    wow what an incredible view! I was in SF this weekend and the weather was incredible!

  10. Alyssa Pacaut

    June 25, 2015

    Merci beaucoup for providing so many logistical details. I’ve been wanting to do a pop-up dinner ever since the first time you posted a pop-up dinner post but have been shy because of the chair/table rental aspect.

    Will be going to IKEA to stock up on supplies for a potential Diner en Noir!

  11. Alyssa Pacaut

    June 25, 2015

    Thanks so much for sharing all the logistics. I’ve wanted to do a pop-up dinner since your first post way back when, but have always shied away from the idea because of the idea of contacting a rental company and striking a deal with them.

    Off to IKEA I got to stock up and then I’ll start planning a Diner en Noir!

  12. Malia

    June 25, 2015

    Your posts about pop-up dinner parties are my favorite! Definitely appreciate the logistics details. I look forward to hosting my own pop-up party sometime.

  13. Beth

    June 26, 2015

    This is THE best idea, wish i was sitting at that table right about now!

    Beth.
    http://www.modernmotherblog.com

  14. Serene

    June 26, 2015

    Ah! What a great idea! And thanks for the easy recipe ideas – that’s always my downfall – I think too big and too many dishes. You have a clear, concise, meal plan here. Perfect. I am definitely copying you this summer!

  15. Annina

    June 30, 2015

    Looks just perfect- what a lovely space to have a Pop up dinner. But San Fran just always Looks f*ing cold!

  16. Avril

    July 1, 2015

    Love it!! Did you supply the crowns for all the women? Was that a surprise?

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