The time is right to turn hot nights into equally haute ones with a delightfully simple outdoor summer dinner party. If you’ve been rhapsodizing about hosting an outdoor affair to celebrate those peak-of-summer treats — lingeringly-long days, bare shoulders after 7 PM, the permission to drink all the light beer you please! —  a summer dinner party is a must. If you’re wondering how to assemble a stylish outdoor get-together without a lot of fuss, we have the answers, thanks to a few outdoor fête-throwing pros that we polled. Read on for summer entertaining tips on everything from the best dining sets to invest in, to the prettiest summer dinnerware!

Design by Still Johnson Interiors / Photo by Jean Allsopp

Delightful Dining Sets

If you don’t regularly entertain al fresco, there’s no need to splurge on an expensive outdoor dining. Liberate yourself from the need to make everything perfect. Consider vintage outdoor furniture as well as tastefully mismatched outdoor furniture. “Our teak furniture has weathered, and I like the look” says Gideon Mendelson of the NYC firm Mendelson Group. “Our plastic woven chairs are from Paris and incredibly easy to maintain and keep clean.” Springing for a laissez-faire dining table and chair pairing like Gideon’s is perfect for landing an alluring, off-the-cuff vibe. Alternatively, dragging out any functional table — sightly or not — and draping it with a tablecloth is another low-investment option. Select a tablecloth with vibrant, summery hues and you have an instant blueprint for summer entertaining place settings as well.  

Design by Love & Water Design / Photo by L.Amoroso

Summer Entertaining Mood-Setters

As any host will tell you, there’s more to throwing a party than picking a menu and setting the table. One often overlooked element? Lighting. Even if your porch, patio, or poolside is already equipped with outdoor lighting, you might think about upping your game. Candles or lantern lights running across the equinoctial line of an outdoor dining table can create alluring ambiance after dark. For less conventional illumination, consider wrapping your plants in pin-sized twinkle lights. (Opt for solar-powered for the ultimate low-lift hack.) If afternoon pool parties that bleed into after-hours affairs are more your jam, consider picking your yard with a few LED-powered umbrellas. Heat-shielding during the day and mood-setting come nightfall, these brilliant brollies are the avid outdoor entertainer’s ace-in-the-hole.

Terrific Table Toppers

Paper plates might seem tempting for an outdoor summer party, but with all of the magnificent melamine plates on the market, there’s good reason to dabble in more sustainable offerings. Of course, white plates remain a standby, even outdoors. Gideon Mendelson of Mendelson Group likes to mix white plates — “the white allows the colorful food to pop” —  with Belgian linens and flatware from Sabre “to add some whimsicality.” It’s worth noting that when it comes to drinking glasses, designer Robin Pelissier of Hingham, Massachusetts recommends steering away from melamine or plastic. “I love a wine and water goblet that has some weight to it and feels good in my hand,” says Robin. Of course, there’s no need t break out the cut crystal when outdoor entertaining. Alternatively, an inexpensive set of vintage pink glassware or Mid-Century low-balls are perfect for procuring casual outdoor-ready style. 


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July 5, 2022

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