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Set up your Lehigh Valley sangria and tapas party

Once you have shopped -- try the AllentownFairgrounds Farmers Market for fresh local fruits and perhaps Andre's Wine and Cheese Shop in Nazarethfor some of the other supplies -- getting ready to introduce sangria and tapas to your Lehigh Valley neighborhood is just a matter of planning and making tasteful visual choices.Setting Up

To host a sangria and tapas party, advanced preparation is key — you'll want all of your drinks and dishes ready to be served as your guests begin arriving from all over Lehigh Valley.

Cut and slice all fruit in advance, storing them in covered containers. Stirring together this flavorful punch will be easier when all of your ingredients are ready to go.

The more guests you have, the more variety of tapas you can prepare. Choose to serve a template of dishes, including vegetarian options, so that everyone can enjoy your savory delights. Some of the simplest dishes are all–time favorites, such as stuffed olives. Plan a menu that allows you to create a vast selection — take advantage of tapas that take minimal time to prepare. You'll surprise guests with innovative bursts of flavor from one dish to the next.

Decorating for this Spanish–inspired party requires little effort. Think about the colors already at work. Glass drink dispensers full of sangria are truly decorative on their own. For texture at the table, start with casual table runners in vibrant colors. Use terra–cotta tiles to call out your signature creations. In case your daytime gathering goes on well into the night, keep romantic lanterns to the side. Have fun and play with color by adding a gorgeous bouquet of fresh flowers in deep red wine tones.

With the ease of small plate dishes, this one–course setting takes the place of a multi course meal. Be sure to have enough small plates and glasses on hand, and your table is set for your entire guest list.

Use background music to set the mood and get everyone in the festive spirit!

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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