Monday, June 20, 2011

Entertaining Alfresco

Summer is coming on strong here in Georgia, the urge to be outside every minute possible, even stronger. Before the sultry southern heat really sets in take time to do a little outdoor entertaining. I always look forward to getting together with family and friends and even though the push to pull out all the stops is strong there is nothing that says elegant cannot be easy. So here are a few tips to jazz up your next event, from a backyard picnic to a party with panache, in no time.

Table toppers can bring so much life to a party. They add a pop of color to the landscape and help in setting the mood for the evening’s festivities.  With little time and money purchase 1 ½ yards of fabric per table to be covered  then cut and hem into a 50” square for clean and simple toppers. For those with a little more bang in the budget R&R Designs is a must for the most sumptuous toppers available. The best thing about R&R is they offer custom creations for their clients and matching pillows to really spread the love. With an array of colligate color schemes available in sophisticated swatches they are perfect for game day parties and tailgating alike.

Invest in seating options.  I personally love the folding chairs offered up by Ballard Designs. Their Germaine, Montello and Louis are my favorites. If you are not in a hurry I also find the charm of mix matched chairs collected over time quite irresistible. Tag sales, estate auctions and flea markets are great places to unearth such fabulous finds.  If you want a more cohesive look simply add the same paint finish to your eclectic collection.

Add ambience with an assortment of lighting.  From light bulbs strung along a cord to glass hurricanes thoughtfully adorning a tree to unique vessels grouped on tables and ledges. Mason jars are such a chic way to spread a little light on the subject. Found in an array of shapes, sizes and colors they fit in perfect from barbeques to weddings. Another option, West Elm located at Atlantic Square or online, offers up a few sexy hurricanes that may strike your fancy.

Simple floral arrangements can make a big impact on your tablescape. No need in going too large or too complicated. Choose a stem from your yard or flowering bush and instantly tie the landscape into your theme. If you lack blooming plants many local grocery stores often carry fresh cut alternatives. An unexpected place to find unique bouquets that are surprisingly affordable is your local Whole Foods market. Once you have the flowers you are going to use select a small low vase. This will keep the table from getting too crowded and conversations from being intruded upon. I found these great vases in square and round versions for a whopping $1 each but the painted tin cans below are another fun and sophisticated container I cannot wait to use. Next dazzling hydrangeas from my yard were added and clippings from a hearty shrub were employed for filler. Wow, see how easy it can be!

Get creative when serving up your guests. I love how Southern Living magazine did a spread using the tailgate of an antique truck as the buffet table.  I did just that for my mother’s 50th birthday and it was a huge success. Look around the house, attic or garage and see what interesting items you may have that you can use.  I love bringing vintage coke crates into play as trays, centerpieces and for setting up a bar. It holds perfectly mixers and a variety of liquors while adding a shot character to the party. This is another one of those items you can pick up at a roadside antique store or online at one of my favorite spots, Etsy. If you are like me and just hate the thought of coolers strewn about then consider using a wheel barrow, brightly colored buckets or old tin washtub to ice down your favorite libation. 

I hope this encourages you to host your own soiree and soon. You do not need a reason to gather with friends under a starry southern sky. I will be looking for my invitation!

Where to get it…
R&R Designs Table Toppers
Folding chairs
String lights found at
Mason jar grouping from
White porcelain votives shows off these fabulous tin can floral vases eye-catching  truck layout
Etsy Coke crate

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