These outdoor party ideas are an affordable and easy way to set the perfect summer party table.
By Tracey E. Schabel
Green Bay, Wisconsin
The forecast calls for plenty of glorious days ahead. What could be more inviting than a brunch, luncheon or tea in the sunshine?
You don’t have to settle for a picnic table and basic white paper plates for your special open-air get-togethers. Summery tablescapes are a breeze to create with decorative items you have on hand or can purchase inexpensively.
So raise the patio umbrella, and let’s get started!
1. Set the Stage for an Outdoor Party
Create a special space in your yard for summer meals and entertaining, a cool retreat from rising mercury. I’m lucky to have a vine-draped pergola to shade my patio set, but trees or an oversized table umbrella will do the trick.
You can soften your seating with cushy throw pillows. And grass makes luxurious outdoor flooring.
2. Layer on Linens
A well-dressed table can wear two to three crisp cloths in coordinating colors. My setting features blue and yellow—other pretty combinations include pink and green, orange and red (or pink), and blue and white.
Feel free to mix playful patterns, too. Solid, checked and floral tablecloths all get along nicely. For a lush look, I double up two napkins and tie them with raffia for a natural touch.
3. Give Tableware Flair
Go with fine china or trendy, patterned paper and plastic. I use some of both for interesting texture and easy cleanup.
Mix and match your glassware. For instance, grab every type of glass you have in blue—even canning jars.
4. Pick Your Centerpiece
Now’s the time to showcase nature’s bounty. I shop for summer centerpieces at the farmers market. Try displaying oranges, lemons, eggplants and grapes in an elevated bowl.
For visual variety, add low, fuss-free flower arrangements such as a black-eyed Susan slipped into a candleholder. Or ring the table with pots of flowering plants. I pull in containers I filled with impatiens, geraniums and lobelia.
5. Lighten Things Up
At dusk, candles lend a cozy, intimate feel to the great outdoors. I safely place them in lanterns or hurricane lamps protected from the wind.
6. Revel in Refreshments
To save table space, top off a large terra-cotta pot with a wooden tray and set beverages on it. I like to play up summer shades by serving pink lemonade, orange soda, and sparkling water in blue bottles.
7. Garden and Garnish your Outdoor Party
Make your food bloomingly beautiful by trimming serving trays with daisies or topping baked goods with delicately sugared violets.
Now sit back, relax with your family and guests, and make some lovely summer memories alfresco!
Garden expert Melinda Myers (melindamyers.com) has a fresh suggestion for adding a little spice to your entertaining. “Grow a few herbs in pots on your patio, deck or balcony,” she recommends. “Later, invite guests to pluck a few leaves to flavor their meals and drinks. Bringing the garden into your party is a fun way to create a memorable and tasty event!”
About our Experts:
Melinda Myers is a nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist. She is a contributing editor to Birds & Blooms magazine and other publications, and maintains melindamyers.com.
Tracey E. Schabel has more than 15 years’ experience as an interior decorator and floral designer. She specializes in room refinements, seasonal decor, custom floral arrangements and, with her experience as a licensed Realtor, real estate staging.
Herb photo by RDA/UK GB