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Decorate for the Perfect Summer Party

Long, lazy days and warm summer nights are what we long for all year. It gives us the opportunity to gather friends and loved ones around our home and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. The taste of a cool, crisp beverage, the smell of food on the grill, the sound of laughter and the feel of walking around barefoot seem to be a good foundation for making memories that last a lifetime. So what is your excuse? Throw together a simple menu, call a few friends and prepare your home for a soiree. Here are a few fresh tips on how to make a great space for summer entertaining.

Incorporate Nature

Use items readily available during the season. Gather rocks, shells and foliage to use as table decoration. Write or rubber stamp the names of your guests on leaves or stones for place cards instead of the standard white paper card stand-by. Fill glass jars with sand or bright limes and lemons for table display.

Try Non-Traditional Centerpieces

There is no need for the expected (and sometimes expensive) store bought flowers in a glass vase. Roam around your lawn and garden for small plotted plants and wildflowers. Plan ahead by planting small vegetation in pots just for this very reason. Group them together in the center of the table, creating varying heights and an interesting collage of different species of plants and flowers. After the party, place the pots back in the garden or give away as parting gifts. Small baskets filled with fresh fruit and vegetables are not only naturally beautiful, but make a great snack as well.

Buy Seasonally Flexible Items

Strings of old-fashioned-style clear bulbs make any event festive. Suspend them above your deck area, hang them on branches of trees or drape from your dining area ceiling or light fixture. The classic look of these strung lights can be kept for winter holidays as well. Purchase classic metal serving trays that add class to an otherwise casual summer gathering, but also come in handy any other time of the year.

Upgrade Materials

Don’t get me wrong, paper napkins and plates serve their purpose. They work with the casual vibe of summer entertaining and make clean-up easy. However, when at all possible make an effort to step up your game in making it feel like a real celebration by utilizing linens and solid dinnerware. It’s just as easy to pull out cloth napkins and toss them in the wash with everything else as it is to pull out paper towel or napkins and throw it in the trash. Cloth feels and looks much nicer, absorbs better and is eco-friendly. Perhaps breakable bowls and plates aren’t as practical for outdoor parties, so make a point to start gathering inexpensive mixmatched vintage metal dinnerware from antique stores.

Solar Lanterns

Layering lighting to create a festive vibe is what really sets the mood. As the sun sets and the party continues, strings of lights may not be enough for outdoor entertaining. Invest in a number of solar lanterns. No wiring is required. These lights have built-in solar panels that power up re-chargeable batteries. Be sure to put the lanterns in a sunny spot all day to ensure a soft glow through the night. They can be hung on a rope between trees and porch posts or set upon tables and pathways on the ground.
Summer only lasts a few precious months, so soak in every moment of nature, friends and simple pleasures. With a little extra effort on party planning you can turn an average gathering into an outstanding memorable experience for everyone. Cheers! 
Ashley Cole is a professional interior designer. Her work has been featured on HGTV as well as numerous publications, including Kitchen Trends and Home Magazine. Ashley’s passion is “creating environments that enliven the spirit.” www.ashleycoledesign.com

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