Summer Entertaining in Cottage Country

Written by: Rose Stephan



Time to read min

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of cottage country and it’s one of our favourite times to entertain.


Whether hosting guests for an entire weekend or just having friends over for a meal, there are so many ways to keep everyone entertained and make the most of this season. 


One of the best things about summer entertaining in cottage country is being outdoors. We love hosting guests on our patio where everyone can revel in the beauty of nature. We know too well that cooler weather will soon be upon us, forcing us to move our gatherings indoors. So, if there's an opportunity to be outside, soaking up the summer, we always choose to do so.

What’s great about entertaining in cottage country is there are an abundance of outdoor activities to keep guests entertained. From swimming and boating to hiking and biking, there's no shortage of ways to enjoy the great outdoors. When we entertain we often set up some outdoor games like ladder ball or corn hole to keep things lively. Sometimes we will go for a walk on a nearby trail or sit around the campfire. Often times a card game will break out. And of course everyone appreciates sitting on the dock with a cold drink! I notice when our guests aren’t from cottage country they really appreciate this opportunity to do outdoor activities that too often we take for granted.

We always want our guests to feel comfortable when they’re visiting us and so we do our best to create a relaxed ambiance. We set up our outdoor lounge area with comfortable seating, pillows and blankets in case it cools off in the evening. We have citronella candles and bug spray on hand for those pesky mosquitos. 


We’ve got patio string lights hanging above the Muskoka Fire Pit and lanterns on the patio to add a whimsical touch. We sometimes have soft music playing in the background but often times our guests are just as happy to hear the sounds of cottage country.

When it comes to food and drink, we like to keep things simple and fresh. We often take advantage of the local farmer's markets to source fresh fruits and vegetables. We also make a visit to the local butcher and bakery

We typically fire up the grill for a classic summer BBQ and serve cold salads. We stock our coolers full of ice and cold drinks, including beer, wine, and non-alcoholic options like lemonade or iced tea. That way we don’t have to be going back and forth to the fridge in the kitchen. Another special touch is to have a jug filled with iced water and lemon slices. Or better yet, sangria!

We want our guests to feel special when they’re visiting so even though we’re eating outdoors the table still needs to be pretty and inviting. It certainly isn’t the time to pull out Grandma’s good dishes, but I still like to be thoughtful when I’m setting the table because it creates such a special and memorable ambiance. And really it doesn’t take that much time to set an attractive table. It’s worth the effort and guests notice it.

When setting my outdoor table I usually start by selecting a colour scheme that complements the natural surroundings. I might incorporate some rustic elements like wooden accents, wildflowers or lanterns. A simple tablecloth or a neutral coloured table runner and pretty napkins can look so elegant.

Or sometimes I create more of a picnic vibe with a checkered tablecloth, quirky napkins and fun straws for the drinks. It’s nice to add some personality to the table by using unique place cards, candles, or a centerpiece made of natural elements. Even a vase with some greenery or branches from the yard can look appropriate and quite striking in this setting. Although I always love treating myself to a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers from the local florist!


And when it comes to serving dessert, ice cream is typically involved (Kawartha Dairy Moose Tracks of course!).


If there are going to be kids dining with us then it's fun to set up an ice cream sundae bar and have a selection of yummy toppings. For some reason gummy worms and crushed Oreo cookies are a favourite topping. Again, special touches like putting the toppings in cute bowls makes a difference when it comes to the presentation. 

For a more relaxed evening, Roger makes sure to set up a campfire and I put together a tray with everything needed to roast marshmallows for s'mores. A campfire is the ideal way to wind down after a long day of outdoor activities, and provides the perfect opportunity to share stories and connect with guests. We’ve had some great laughs around our campfire this season and I’m sure we will cherish the memories for years to come.

Overall, summer entertaining in cottage country is all about enjoying the natural beauty of the area and spending quality time with loved ones. With a little planning and creativity, you can create a memorable experience for everyone involved. It’s such a fleeting season yet there is so much opportunity to be outdoors and celebrate the beautiful surroundings in which we live.

Sincerely, Roger and Rose