Image via Camille Styles
There really is nothing better than an al fresco dinner party, and we at Amanda’s House of Elegance are thankful that warmer weather has finally graced us. In the spirit of the summer entertaining season, we have complied a list of tips for hosting a stylish summer party from the cocktails, to the meals, right down to the decor (of course!)
Read on to find out how you can effortlessly host a summer soiree that is as equally stylish as it is entertaining!
Summer Entertaining: Rules To Live By
Keep It Relaxed: Stay true to the carefree spirit of summer and keep your parties intimate and relaxed, rather than over-the-top spectacles.
Let People Sit Where They Want To: Inkeeping with the above point, assigned seating is the antithesis of relaxed and casual dining. Ensure a welcoming, laidback vibe by allowing your guests to sit wherever they please.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Eclectic Decor: We’re not saying to throw your personal decor style out the window, but don’t be afraid to incorporate a bold, summer colour palette or eclectic accents into your summer entertaining, which are on-point for the season. We especially love Bohemian-style pieces (think Moroccan lanterns) and tropical-inspired accents. Tip:Make sure your colour story is cohesive across all of your outdoor decor.
Serve Seasonal Food: Think homemade dishes that you can serve “family style” with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Try one of these 30 Easy Summer Dinner Recipes from Country Living (check out Cookie and Kate for summer recipes if you will be having any vegetarians at your table!) Tip: Stick to one “theme” or style of cuisine for your menu to elevate your gathering.
Remember these 3 Words: Streamlined, Stocked, Self-Serve: As stated on Martha Stewart, “The ideal drinks setup is streamlined, well stocked, and self-serve. Case in point: A batch of freshly squeezed lemonade* will please practically everyone. Ice it down in a four-gallon stainless-steel dispenser and no one will get stuck manning the bar. Kids can help themselves; adults can punch theirs up with vodka and citrus and herb garnishes, which double as decor.” Tip: Don't forget to update your cooler: “an oversize resin Champagne bucket has all the appeal of a galvanized steel one” as said on Martha Stewart, but it will look much more chic!
*Editor’s Note: …or any fresh juice!
Tips For Hosting A Stylish Summer Party
Make A Statement With Your Table Decor
Summer entertaining al fresco calls for durable serveware and linens, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice style. Look for ceramic plates and flatware, hefty (read: unbreakable) glassware, and colourful tablecloths and napkins that are easy to clean.
Want an simple outdoor table decor hack? Summertime offers such a colourful bounty of stone fruit, garden vegetables, and berries; So let the menu double as décor: show off fruits and veggies in beautiful serveware pieces — think tiered stands and hand-crafted bowls — to make your food display-worthy. Guests will love the edible centerpiece!
For bonus style points: Echo the natural surroundings with organic-shaped decor, wooden accents, floral prints, and statement-making centerpieces. Our picks for centrepieces that won’t wilt in the heat are palm leaves and dessert blooms like succulents and cacti. But don’t think you are limited to real plants when it comes to decorating! Many interior decorators have begun opting for faux plants in both their interior and exterior designs — so you can enjoy tropical botanicals in your dining decor sans commitment with a faux option! You can find tons of faux, bontaically correct plants here at Amanda’s House Of Elegance.
Tip: Serving trays are your best friend when it comes to outdoor entertaining. You can fit a serving tray with tasty hors d'oeuvre (or even bubbling flutes for toasts) and disperse them amongst your guests. Alternatively, you can corral pretty drinkware or other serveware in trays (which double as decor).
Seating Is Key
Dinner outdoors can and should be just as accommodating and comfortable as one you’d host indoors. Opt for comfy outdoor dining chairs with cushioned seating whenever possible (make sure they’re clean and presentable!); Or if your aesthetic is more rustic than there is nothing wrong with classic wooden chairs or even metal dining chairs if industrial chic is more your style. Whatever your aesthetic, outdoor-friendly throw cushions go a long way to make your dining seating both inviting and comfortable (ditto for outdoor benches). Moreover, throw cushions are a great way to add character and depth to your outdoor decor, so feel free to play around with texture and colour.
Tip: Use throw cushions as an opportunity to establish continuity in your decorating scheme by carrying over the colour palette from your dining table through the rest of your outdoor space. For optimal effect don’t be too matchy-matchy and try pattern mixing for a laidback, Bohemian vibe (just make sure to stick to the same colour palette and create contrast by pairing large-scale patterns with smaller-scale patterns to avoid visual busy-ness!)
*Also available in 14x20, 11x20 and 20x6.5 bolster
Use Lighting To Set The Mood
When it comes to outdoor entertaining in the summer, it goes without saying that when the sun goes down lighting is king in setting the tone of your gathering and your decor. Not to mention you will need ample lighting for safety reasons (nobody wants a twisted ankle!) so don’t forget to generously factor in well-placed lights into your decorating scheme.
Lanterns do double-duty as stylish tabletop lighting and can also illuminate any path that needs brightening (we strongly recomend using LED candles for lanterns!)
Don’t forget a backyard classic: hang string lights between trees for extra coziness (we recommend using battery-powered, outdoor-safe bistro string lights for illumination sans outlet).
Of course, you can use candles or even torches to create a warm and inviting environment for your guests (just keep a close eye on them!)
Start With A Signature Cocktail
As Amanda S. Gluck behind Fashionable Hostess says, “the party starts with ‘a signature cocktail or wine that complements the meal. Whether its a light white wine to compliment the fish or something bubbly to welcome and toast guests, I like to have something special selected for the gathering.’ She says that whether your drink of choice is wine, whiskey, or a punchy sangria, there are two hostess must-haves for any home bar: pro-level tools and a set of gorgeous glassware.”
Tip: Hydration is so important, particularly on warm summer days and when drinking alcohol. Always make sure that there is plenty of fresh water available for your guests! You can spruce up your basic H20 by adding sprigs of rosemary, orange slices, or cucumber slivers.
Ward Off Pests
Remember to cover food with mesh domes to keep bugs away. There are also tons of devices out there that are designed to keep the pests at bay — try running an electric fan or using this surprisingly stylish “anti-fly sphere” by Delao (below).
Don’t Forget The Tunes
Connect a few Bluetooth speakers via wifi, and voilà! Anyone with a smartphone can DJ. Queue up a few songs, or use a handy app like Spotify to find the perfect playlist to fit your summer soiree.
The key thing to remember when hosting a summer party is to keep it laid back! Have fun with it, and experiment with your decor in bold ways that summer calls for.
A thoughtfully selected menu, great drinks, and good friends are all you need! For the rest, come visit Amanda’s House Of Elegance today and find the perfect decorations for your summer soiree.