New & NowEntertainingThe ShopSummerShopping Guide

Our Shop's Guide to Making Summer Entertaining a Breeze

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Outdoor parties are to indoor parties as casual Fridays are to business casual. Everything is loosened up, comfier, and it matters less if you spill on something.

Outdoors, you have permission to eat with your hands. It seems more acceptable for your playlist to switch between hip-hop and Handel. And the party will likely stretch into the wee hours without you noticing. But no matter how casual, your guests should still feel like... well, guests: comfortable and taken care of. A few little ways we're fine-tuning our outdoor entertaining chops this summer:

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Summer table #goals.
Summer table #goals. Photo by Rocky Luten
Dew Drop Wired LED Lights (Set of 2)

Dew Drop Wired LED Lights (Set of 2)

From $22
Weck Asparagus Jar 8 Ounce (Set of 6)

Weck Asparagus Jar 8 Ounce (Set of 6)

From $28
  • Put lots and lots of water out (there's no such thing as too much)—we're fans of simple carafes along the table, every foot or so. Oh, and only set out your biggest glasses. A hot summer night is not the time for the wee ones.
  • Use berry baskets to hold a stack of extra paper napkins. Your famous ribs can get messy.

Now for the trimmings! Consider this Our Style Guide to Outside Eating, Drinking, and Merry-Making.

Skip ahead to lighting, tabletop, serving, drinks, and extra hospitable touches.

first, set the mood

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Once the sun goes down, you've got an opportunity to create a midsummer's night dreamscape. French-ish cafe lighting, firefly-sized twinkles for a fairyland feel, modern and minimal globe lanterns, and camping-approved collapsible, carry-able lamps. Which are you?

Outdoor Cafe Lighting

Outdoor Cafe Lighting

From $30
Waterproof Solar & USB Chargeable Travel Light

Waterproof Solar & USB Chargeable Travel Light

From $20
Modern Rechargeable LED Lantern

Modern Rechargeable LED Lantern

$149
Dew Drop Wired LED Lights (Set of 2)

Dew Drop Wired LED Lights (Set of 2)

From $22

then, set the table

Some mixy-matchy tablecloth and napkin combos:

  • Natural linen + bold gingham checks
  • Chambray + bright, crinkly white cotton
  • Gauzy linen with a light blue finish + fringed and heathered
  • Seersucker + more seersucker
Oatmeal Linen Striped Tablecloth

Oatmeal Linen Striped Tablecloth

$210
Gingham Cloth Napkins (Set of 4)

Gingham Cloth Napkins (Set of 4)

$32
Linen Chambray Table Runner

Linen Chambray Table Runner

$65
Fog Blue-Edged Linen Tablecloth

Fog Blue-Edged Linen Tablecloth

$150
Chambray Fringed Dinner Napkins (Set of 4)

Chambray Fringed Dinner Napkins (Set of 4)

$72
Seersucker Tablecloth

Seersucker Tablecloth

From $60
Seersucker Cloth Napkins, White (Set of 4)

Seersucker Cloth Napkins, White (Set of 4)

$32
Denim Flatware Place Setting

Denim Flatware Place Setting

From $42

We've got plates and forks that have just the right amount of "picnic"—and summery shades with a few zings of color keep things from feeling like a kid's birthday party.

Porcelain Enamelware Plates (Sets of 4)

Porcelain Enamelware Plates (Sets of 4)

$80
Italian Flatware, Fantasia (5-Piece Flatware Place Setting)

Italian Flatware, Fantasia (5-Piece Flatware Place Setting)

$68
Russel Wright Melamine Dinnerware & Serveware

Russel Wright Melamine Dinnerware & Serveware

From $26
Opinel Olive Wood Table Knives (Set of 4)

Opinel Olive Wood Table Knives (Set of 4)

$59

bring out the food

Group all your must-drizzle condiments on a perky tray. On our list: has to be Heinz, at least three hot sauces, and perhaps some fancy (but actually very easy, don't tell) homemade toppings. An extra, extra large woven tray is good for covering a splotchy picnic tabletop, and carries a whole mess of dishes back to the kitchen in one fell swoop.

Seafoam Enamel Tray

Seafoam Enamel Tray

$48
Woven Moroccan Tray

Woven Moroccan Tray

$80

For bowls and platters: the bigger the better.

Handcrafted Wood Bowls

Handcrafted Wood Bowls

From $65
Food52 3-Piece Serving Set, by Jono Pandolfi

Food52 3-Piece Serving Set, by Jono Pandolfi

$150
Handmade Round Platter with Lace Detail

Handmade Round Platter with Lace Detail

$100
Grey Splatter Enamel Nesting Mixing Bowls (Set of 3)

Grey Splatter Enamel Nesting Mixing Bowls (Set of 3)

$68

We're fans of sticking as many serving spoons in a bowl as possible, so people can grab from all sides. And if there's any food more deserving of a serious, stunning serving utensil than ice cream, we want to hear about it.

Simple Walnut Serving Set

Simple Walnut Serving Set

$70
Handcrafted Wood Serving Set

Handcrafted Wood Serving Set

$48
Grey Splatter Enamel Serving Utensils (Set of 3)

Grey Splatter Enamel Serving Utensils (Set of 3)

$25
Solid Brass Ice Cream Scoop

Solid Brass Ice Cream Scoop

$70

DRINKS

In the backyard, tiki drinkware is anything but tacky. And for hands-off service, opt for a drink dispenser so guests can take charge of their own refills.

Seagrass Pitcher & Tumblers

Seagrass Pitcher & Tumblers

From $50
Seagrass Cage Carafe & Tumblers

Seagrass Cage Carafe & Tumblers

From $26
White & Grey Enamel Drink Dispenser

White & Grey Enamel Drink Dispenser

$90
Stainless Steel Olive Oil Fusti, 3L

Stainless Steel Olive Oil Fusti, 3L

$130

Pretty, pretty pitchers—for water, lemonade, or something a little stronger.

Hobnail Glass Pitcher

Hobnail Glass Pitcher

$46
Grey Splatter Enamel Pitcher

Grey Splatter Enamel Pitcher

$40

If the glasses aren't going to be shatterproof (like the Outdoor Wine Glasses at the top left, below), make sure they're heavy-bottomed so the chance of a topple is lower.

Double-Walled Glassware (Set of 2)

Double-Walled Glassware (Set of 2)

From $50
Glass Confetti Tumblers (Set of 6)

Glass Confetti Tumblers (Set of 6)

$84
Handblown Simple Glassware (Set of 6)

Handblown Simple Glassware (Set of 6)

From $84
Outdoor Wine Glasses (Set of 6)

Outdoor Wine Glasses (Set of 6)

$70

keep everything cold

No one likes a lukewarm beer or a watered-down Strawberry Margarita on the Rocks.

Summertime Ice Cube Trays (Set of 3)

Summertime Ice Cube Trays (Set of 3)

$38
Structured Nylon & Leather Travel Coolers

Structured Nylon & Leather Travel Coolers

From $25
Grey Splatter Enamel Basin

Grey Splatter Enamel Basin

From $30
Stainless Steel Ice Pack

Stainless Steel Ice Pack

From $16

the special touches

When the sun sets, the air can take on a chill (if you're lucky!) so keep some machine washable blankets and throws handy so your guests can get all wrapped up. This party is waaaay too good to move inside.

Everyday Beach Throw

Everyday Beach Throw

$32
Buffalo Check Fringed Wool Throw

Buffalo Check Fringed Wool Throw

$90

And piles look so much prettier inside a giant handwoven basket.

Extra-Large French Market Storage Basket

Extra-Large French Market Storage Basket

$70
Handwoven Moroccan Basket

Handwoven Moroccan Basket

From $75

When the conversation gets going and distracts from the cheese plate (that must be a really good conversation), cover things up with gingham-trimmed nets. What is this? A feast for ants?! No, no it's not.

A couple of candles (classic citronella or ones that smell like sweet summer tomato vines) never hurt.

Outdoor Net Food Cover

Outdoor Net Food Cover

$28
Food52 x Hawkins New York Seasonal Candle

Food52 x Hawkins New York Seasonal Candle

$48
Linen & Cotton Bowl Covers (Set of 6)

Linen & Cotton Bowl Covers (Set of 6)

$60
Outdoor Net Table Cover

Outdoor Net Table Cover

$56

ready to party?

25 Grilling Recipes for Mix-and-Match Outdoor Meals

25 Grilling Recipes for Mix-and-Match Outdoor Meals by Samantha Weiss Hills

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A Guide to Throwing a Better Cookout—Whatever that Means to You

A Guide to Throwing a Better Cookout—Whatever that Means ... by Caroline Lange

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Make Donut Ice Cream and Win Summer

Make Donut Ice Cream and Win Summer by Katie Macdonald

+
A Grilled Take on a French Bistro Classic

A Grilled Take on a French Bistro Classic by QueenSashy

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Got any tips for outdoor entertaining? Little things that make your guests feel extra loved? Please share!

Tags: summer, outdoor entertaining, shop