Day 22: How to Change the Menu of Your Dinner Party When Guests Cancel/Sweet Summer Salad

Thanks for joining me in my “30 Days of Summer Entertaining” series. (Scroll down to the bottom for previous posts in this series) :)

What I love about summer entertaining is the relaxed attitude and atmosphere. It’s easier to push the time back. Everyone seems more relaxed with a “go-with-the-flow” attitude.

Guests tend to hang around to visit longer. Summer entertaining is really my favorite season, if I had to pick a season :)

But things can change quickly when a couple or two cancel. Right?

Earlier this week, our party changed when a few people had to cancel.

The party was planned, dishes were delegated, groceries were purchased for my portion of the menu. But as soon as I found out I immediately changed the meal to lighter fare, knowing it would only be 4 of us.

Since we had so much freshly-picked lettuce, spun and washed, we decided to divert from the bigger “dinner party menu” to make a large summer salad for our guests.

(One of 7 garden beds looking up at our house from the bottom of our property … not sure I’ve ever showed this angle before.)

And it was a hit!

Our guests brought appetizers.
We put bread in the oven.
We served a beautiful summer salad
We resorted to *Plan B for dessert (since I originally had delegated this dish).

Sweet Summer Tossed Chicken Salad
Mixture of fresh lettuce
Rotisserie chicken, seasoned and chopped into small pieces
Sweet Vidalia onions
Feta cheese
Cucumbers, thinly sliced
Toasted walnuts (this method is really yummy)

Mix greens, onion, feta cheese, and cucumbers. Toast the walnuts (using this method), and then add in the chopped chicken. Heat on low for 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken/nut mixture and toss the salad with oil and vinegar.

Serve onto plates. Top each plate with slices of avocado and fresh pineapple.

Toss with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.

Top each served salad with: fresh pineapple, sliced avocado.

Do you free to deviate from your menu when guests cancel? Or do you stick with what you had already planned?

(*Plan B for the dessert will be shared on the last day of this series.)

If you’ve missed the last 21 days of this series, you can catch up now:

Day 1: Summer Entertaining is About the People
Day 2: When Perfect Robs You of Something Good
Day 3: Who To Invite to Dinner
Day 4: Planning the Menu for Outdoor Entertaining
Day 5: Setting the Table Using What You Have
Day 6: Using One Classic Water Glass
Day 7: Napkin Options for Summer Entertaining
Day 8: When You Feel Like Canceling the Party
Day 9: Leave Your Technology at the Front Door
Day 10: Candles That Enhance Good Conversation
Day 11: Serving Flavored Herb and Fruit Water
Day 12: Leafy Greens and a Tiny Bit of Agave
Day 13: Keeping Nut and Fruits and Cheeses on Hand for Easy Appetizers
Day 14: Move Your Table to a Different Space
Day 15: Greek Salad on a Stick and Getting the Kids Involved
Day 16: Three Lies of Perfectionism that Ruin Entertaining Moments
Day 17: Be Creative When You Run Out of Linens for Your Dinner Party
Day 18: Gather Around a Fire for Intimate Summer Entertaining
Day 19: Last Minute Father’s Day Invite and Pork Chops with Glazed Apricots
Day 20: Summer Entertaining GIVEAWAY from National Pork Board
Day 21: Create a Simple Appetizer Basket for Last-Minute Guests

Feel free to grab my button and share it with your readers :).

30 days of Summer Entertaining


  1. Love this salad. It sounds absolutely yummy and I’m going to try it this weekend!

  2. I love the way you were able to effortlessly change the menu to something light and appealing to everyone coming! I look forward to what the plan b dessert was!

  3. such a great idea, one i will definitely file away! thanks :)

  4. I usually have so much done prior to the event that even people cancelling wouldn’t affect what I serve. Especially in summer, when it’s already easier…something on the grill, a side dish and dessert. And margaritas. Those are the appetizer to assure that guests love everything else that comes. :)

  5. I love this series, Sandy! The idea of a big salad dinner is lovely, especially now that it’s so hot. Thank you for the inspiration you provide!

  6. I can’t say as I’ve done this often, or at all..usually because I don’t necessarily have other items for a backup plan. Often I’ll just reduce the size of what I originally was going to make or depending on what I have on hand maybe change it up.

    Love the picture of a different angle…I’m drooling for raised beds (C:

  7. I love how healthy and inviting your garden bed looks, Sandy. I know just the people I want to make this summer salad for. Thanks for sharing it. Beautiful peonies.

  8. this is time to use the ‘BE ATTITUDE’ “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break”
    When this has happened to us, it’s disappointing at first, but we’ve found the change to hold a blessing and things have unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. Needed privacy and intimacy for life issues are friends were dealing with—-God knows the plans/appointments He has for us. Love you Sandy Girl!

  9. this is time to use the ‘BE ATTITUDE’ “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break”
    When this has happened to us, it’s disappointing at first, but we’ve found the change to hold a blessing and things have unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. Needed privacy and intimacy for life issues our friends were dealing with—-God knows the plans/appointments He has for us. Love you Sandy Girl!

  10. You are so amazing girl! What a beautiful post!

  11. How nice to be able to pick your dinner ingredients from your yard……your table looks so inviting and I love that you just ‘go with the flow’. Another inspiring post.

  12. I find we usually have the opposite problem. Added guests, friends call and and ask if they can they bring a friend or someone calls and says “what are you doing today?” and we invite them to join us. Fortunately DH likes to cook and is a master at spur of the moment so that helps a lot. Salads suit summer entertaining so well and are pretty easy to stretch too.


  13. What a pretty table! What a pretty home!
    With the floodgate of Summer guests about to open this is going to be my go-to Summer Supper dish! So simple and sounds so delish.
    Thanks again for another fantastic recipe.

  14. My fiance laughs at me for keeping so many pantry goods around. But I do it for this very reason – you never know when people have to cancel or when extra folks join the party. I keep olives & pickled items on hand to make quickie relish trays. I also keep jars of jam, chutneys, salsas, and spreads as well as a variety of crackers on hand to make quickie spread-y type snack trays. Never hurts to have “filler” items around that way if you’re short on something due to the unexpected, people won’t go hungry.

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  17. Great idea for a last-minute cancellation. Thank you for sharing it! I unfortunately had to cancel an invitation for a party myself and know as a hostess myself how inconvenient that can be. I actually just wrote a blog about it and linked to your post as well, I hope you don’t mind :)

  18. Barbara …. I love your comment about the margarita’s; Doesn’t matter what the guests end up getting at the end, so long as they have the margaritas they are sure to enjoy the rest.
    I love the salad idea!!!!!! One thing I would like to know though….. do you ask others to contribute to the dish when entertaining? Is this a done thing in the rest of the world? We used to do this in SA but they don’t seem so keen in the UK ? Please give me your thoughts?
    Thanks for a great post!

  19. Wow. I found again a great salad recipe. I can’t wait to try this one. Thanks for sharing it here.

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