Come summer, when Farina Wong Kingsley returns to her vacation home on Bald Head Island, a secluded and idyllic barrier island off the North Carolina coast, she's not trying to get away from it all. In fact, that's when the party starts.
Kingsley—a culinary instructor, cookbook author, and owner of Farina's Asian Pantry—lives most of the year in Singapore. While her travel schedule has her jaunting across continents, her favorite spot to host a gathering of friends and family is on the beach at Bald Head, where she spends a month in the summer with her husband and two girls. "We like to barbecue and hang out with friends here," says Kingsley. "It's a reunion."
- Forget chairs. People like to stand when they're mingling. When it's time to eat, set up low tables so people can relax on blankets in the sand.
- Consider the wind. Choose sturdy, shatter-resistant tableware in substantial plastic, tin, or melamine.
- Go for pretty and practical. Make sure centerpieces are heavy enough to keep your tablecloths in place.
- Get creative with serving dishes. Kingsley uses newspaper or linens right on the table if she doesn't have a large enough platter for foods like boiled crab.
- Avoid fork-and-knife foods, especially when people are eating picnic style.
- Prepare items that taste just as delicious at room temperature as they do piping hot or ice-cold.
- Ask for help. Always have friends get involved—it's more fun for everyone.