02 Jun Sanity-Saving Summer Entertaining Tips + Resources
It’s finally summer! It’s time to let the margaritas flow, let the sun shine on your winter ravaged body, and most of all, to open the doors to the patio for summer entertaining.
Once you have your outdoor furniture in check—if you need ideas, read last week’s post on my favorite resource for stylish outdoor duds—then you get to turn your attention to the fun stuff…entertaining.
It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To
First, let’s have a quick honest discussion about party planning.
With blogs, magazines, Instagram and Pinterest feeds out there showcasing picture perfect parties with handmade pompoms, freshly stamped notecards, miles of string lights and beautiful people dressed to the nines, it’s easy to get into a state of creative freak out that your party won’t live up to Pin-worthy expectations.
Guess what? Unless you spend hours and hours planning your event, or enlist the talents of an event planner, your party probably won’t look like it jumped off the pages of Elle Decor.
Stop worrying about it.
Put down your iPad and dig inside your brain for some creative, simple and totally doable (even for the not-artistically-inclined) party ideas that 1. Won’t break the bank, 2. Don’t involve the use of plastic plates and 3. Will make you and your guests happy because you will be relaxed and rested for the evening’s festivities.
Your Own Dinner Studio
For dinner studio, my signature yearly event, I always seem to be in the midst of juggling a giant handful of clients, while attempting to plan a party for 20+ people. It’s a different theme each time, and (shhh…don’t tell anyone), we are usually scrambling at the last minute.
Over the course of the last two events though, I learned a few tricks that I’m going to pass along to you that will make your party memorable, in all the right ways.
Not Sure Where to Start?
Use This as Your Cheat Sheet:
Bring on the Blooms
Here’s the thing about flowers. You need them, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a pro. Have fun with it.
Make your arrangements a little messy, a little funky. If your option (due to budget or location) is supermarket blooms from Safeway, cut some branches or grab some green things from the garden to fill in the spaces. Single blooms can also be a great statement in a pretty vase.
Carnations are the poor girl’s peonies, so feel free to experiment with these less expensive blooms. Everything 70s and 80s is back in style, so I think it’s time carnations make their comeback.
For vases, anything goes that can hold water. Water pitchers, vintage glassware, even deep bowls, can provide some creative flair to a table.
Need some flower inspiration? Take a look at a few of my favorite Instagrammers.
Turn the Tables: Unexpected Settings
For an outdoor party, it’s tempting to reach for the white plastic or paper plates from the grocery store, but this year, up the ante. We went for all white china at Dinner Studio, because that’s what was on hand at the cafe where we held the party, but I’m challenging you to think outside the box.
Vintage shops, estate sales and thrift stores, are excellent resources for unearthing beautiful, antique and vintage china. Mix and match a few different sets, or put together your own set of singles. The plates will usually run you around $2-$3 each.
If you do want paper, turn up the volume with something chic from Cheeky Home, which has partnered with famed blogger Design Love Fest and Target for a line of paper plates that are anything but ordinary.
Another great option for non-breakable dinner plates is classic blue and white enamelware. I’m obsessed with these plates from Serena & Lily. They are perfect for the mountains. And, at around $20 a piece, they are a little more budget friendly.
1. Serena & Lily, Marin Marbled Enamelware Dinner Plates, $68 | 2. designlovefest for Cheeky & Target, Polka Dot Stripe Paper Plates, $3.99
1. Aperta Melamine Dinner Plate, $10 | 2. Marilla Acrylic Goblet, $6 | 3. Morning Bouquet Tray, $98–$168
She’s Crafty: Place cards
Get crafty with it and give your guests something to take home. Insert your guests photo (go waaaayyyy back) into cool luggage tags, put a little flag into a tiny succulent, wrap name tags around beautiful little espresso cups or vintage glasses.
Martha Stewart Weddings
Set the Mood With Lighting
It’s time to set the mood. Yes, you can use a mile of string lights, but don’t rely on one source. Add hurricane lanterns for protected candlelight (everyone always looks better in candlelight), and outdoor electric lights for illuminating pathways. If you really want to get crazy, toss in a few outdoor torchieres for some major impact. And…let’s be honest, the classic Italian-restaurant-patio vintage string lights are always a favorite.