As the summer winds down and the temperature begins to drop, outdoor entertaining is just heating up for Susan Feldman, one of the founders of the online home sensation One Kings Lane. With her fun and easy ideas for your next summer dinner party or BBQ, you'll want to keep the party going well into September.
Dish Towel Napkins
Inexpensive dishtowels make perfect BBQ napkins – guests won't be afraid to really get them nice and dirty. Simple and chic styles can be found online for less than $1.00 each! They're so much better than a paper napkin, not only because they're much more stylish, but because after the party, you can wash and reuse them again and again.
Kraft Paper Tablecloth
For a casual BBQ, use a simple roll of Kraft paper as a tablecloth. It sets the perfect laid-back vibe for your guests, is ideal for a messy feast, and makes for effortless cleanup. But just because your tablecloth isn't formal, that doesn't mean your can't step up the look with gorgeous dinnerware and glassware. Creating that balance between casual and elegant always makes for the most inviting tables.
For a late-summer dinner party, it's a nice touch to put out a basket filled with a few throw blankets for guests to use. Anticipating your guest's needs is the mark of a great hostess, and there's inevitably that one person who forgot to bring a sweater.
A petite potted citrus tree is an easy summer centerpiece, and its height really gives your table a nice sense of occasion. Rather than the plastic pot, try repotting it in an inexpensive blue & white container from your local importer. While you're there, pick up some blue & white rice bowls to fill with loose fruit (hopefully the same citrus as the tree), place them down the center of the table for a colorful alternative to flowers.
Personalized Place Settings
Guests always feel special with a little personalized detail, and I love using place cards, even when entertaining outdoors. For a fun and casual look, wrap your silverware in linen napkins and tie it together with pretty jute twine. Then write each guest's name on a beautiful hole-punched place card and thread the twine through for a place setting that does double duty.
With their sturdy makeup, outdoor rugs are ideal for summer entertaining. Any pattern will pop against the grass and the rectangular dimensions act as a dramatic stage for your dining table. For a little Moroccan flair, ditch the table and chairs and use a few outdoor throw pillows (regular pillows with removable and washable covers will also work well). They'll encourage guests to lounge and linger for hours.
When hung from trees or a balcony, hanging lanterns always set a festive tone for a summer soiree mood. And with the solar-powered versions on the market (they look just like a standard paper lantern but have mini solar panel hidden on top) that come alive all on their own when the sun goes down! I'd recommend all white lanterns for a more sophisticated summer look.
Formerly the President of Sales for Ralph Lauren Swim and the Vice President of Sales at Polo Jeans Company, Susan Feldman followed her passion for across-the-board style to launch One Kings Lane in March 2009 with partner Alison Pincus. One Kings Lane is the first home-oriented daily private sales destination. Membership is free.Visit www.onekingslane.com to join; Holidash readers will receive an instant $10 credit with a $50 purchase.