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/ Source: TODAY
By Alejandra Ramos

Summer is a favorite time for entertaining, but these hot days can make things extra challenging for the party host. Entertaining expert Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert shares her best party tips, chilled cocktails and no-cook recipes for a breezy summer party that will help you and your guests stay cool and enjoy the best the season has to offer.

Beat-the-Heat Party Tips

Ice packs aren't just for coolers.

Wrap ice packs in linen napkins that match your serving platters and place them underneath serving platters on the buffet table. To keep things even colder, freeze your bowls and platters before plating your food.

Choose the right materials.

Use serving pieces like bowls, platters and cheese boards made from marble, granite, slate and other types of stone. These natural materials stay cool on even the hottest days. If you have a large marble pastry board place that on your table, and layer other plates and bowls on top. Avoid stainless steel or metal as it absorbs heat easily.

Serve small portions.

Keep food at the right temperature, by serving smaller portions at a time, reserving the rest in the refrigerator or an ice cooler if you're away from home. Replenish as necessary throughout the party.

Stay-Cool Sips

Watermelon Frosé Cocktail

The only thing cooler than rosé is frosé! These frozen rose drinks are made with an easy blend of rosé wine, frozen watermelon and a splash of Campari. Slushy drinks need to be served immediately, but keep things easy by freezing the watermelon in advance, and combining the rest of the ingredients separately.

Mermaid Limeade

Mermaid Limeade

Alejandra Ramos

You'll feel those tropical breezes with just one sip of these fun ocean blue summer party drinks! The boozy version is made with coconut rum and blue curacao, while kids and other nondrinkers can enjoy an easy nonalcoholic variation made with coconut soda.

Serve ice in a colander.

Keep the ice on your drinks station from melting into a slushy puddle by serving it in a colander layered over a bowl. The ice will drain as it melts keeping the rest of the cubes frozen longer.

No-Cook, No-Heat Party Menu

No need to turn on the grill, stove or oven when it's this hot. These easy no-cook recipes are all made by assembling easy pantry ingredients — with a few smart grocery store swaps.

If you've only ever made couscous by cooking it in boiling water, get ready to have your mind blown! Couscous is technically a type of very tiny dry pasta that only needs to be rehydrated before cooking. You can do this by combining it with a dressing, then letting it chill for a couple hours. No heat required!

Chicken Caesar Salad Tacos

Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, salad greens and your fave dressing are all you need to make this easy party-friendly dish. Serve in crunchy taco shells for a grab-and-go dish everyone will enjoy.

Mini Chimichurri Steak Sliders

Deli roast beef is one of my favorite ways to serve meat at a party without having to cook it. In this recipe you'll use it to make little steak sandwiches topped with a tangy Argentine-style herb sauce.

Hummus Cucumber Cups

Hummus Cucumber Cups

Alejandra Ramos

Use a melon-baller or small spoon to create edible appetizer cups that can be filled with all kinds of party faves. I love them filled with store-bought guacamole or hummus.

DIY Ice Cream Sandwiches

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Ice cream sandwiches are always a hit but can be a lot of work to assemble in advance. Keep things easy and interactive by setting out a variety of ice cream flavors and toppings for guests to make their own perfect dessert sandwich. Cookies are a classic, but think about fun alternatives like watermelon slices, banana bread or even crispy marshmallow treats!

No-Cook Strawberry Cheesecake Cups

All the flavor of cheesecake without the fuss. Layer sweetened cream cheese, diced fresh strawberries and crumbled cookies into mini cups for a quick treat that will work for any party.