How to easily create a summer tablescape: ideas, essentials, tips

Plus, Katie’s secret to a successful summer night out.

If you’re like Katie, then you love to entertain and gather all your friends for an evening full of food and fun. While you can certainly get everyone together around your living room coffee table, there’s something extra special about taking the time to decorate ahead of time or create a beautiful tablescape for everyone to enjoy. benefit.

That being said, setting the table in a way that feels unique, manageable and pretty to you can be a daunting task – even thinking about setting seats for all our friends for a garden dinner party makes our heads spin. It’s easier than it looks, though. Katie has thrown a party or two in her backyard and she turns to her friend Darcy Miller, party expert, illustrator and author of Celebrate it all! : fun ideas to bring your party to life, for table decoration inspo. So we turned to the expert for tips on making a summer party beautiful, memorable and, above all, functional.

From choosing a theme to DIYing your own decorations, we’ve learned how to make the most of your summer evenings, even if you’re only hosting a few people in your garden or dining room. After all, the most important thing is that you and your guests enjoy the evening together – creating the perfect table setting is just a small part of that.

What is table decor?

You’ve probably already assumed this, but a tablescape is basically the scene you (literally) place at your table. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, graduation, or vacation, chances are you want to decorate in a way that hints at the occasion.

For a holiday like the 4th of July, for example, adding red, white and blue elements to your table is an obvious idea. However, if you’re only having a few friends and loved ones over to enjoy the warm weather on any summer day, you might just want to put some fresh fruit and flowers on the table to celebrate what’s in season.

How to Start a Tablescape

Starting any project is the hardest part, but when it comes to tablecaping, all you have to do to get started is imagine what you want your scene to look like. “Think about the feeling you want the table to have,” Miller says. “Do you want something that looks more formal or do you want something you can use over and over again?”

For big dinners like Thanksgiving, you might want to start decorating your table a few days in advance, just so you don’t feel rushed. Arranging your dishes and serving vessels also means you don’t have to worry about what to put food on the day of your event.

But, if you’re having a casual gathering with friends, sometimes less is more when it comes to decorating and arranging things on a table. Keep functionality in mind, no matter what type of celebration you are having. A casual cocktail hour at home won’t require full place settings, so there’s no need to set the table. Consider having snacks and appetizers on your table instead.

“People are still very attracted to pasture boards,” says Miller. “They can also become the decor. I had a baby shower once and the main table was just two big pasture boards – so I didn’t have to put any flowers on it! In addition, cleaning afterwards is easy. If your guests eat your snacks, all you have to do is wash your trays or charcuterie boards.

“The next thing to do is to think about color and the season, it’s to think about what’s fresh and local,” she says. “It’s still the most affordable and beautiful.” For a summer tablescape, consider flowers you can easily find at a farmers market or fruit that would look lovely in a large glass bowl on the table. Local touches will not only save you money, but they will also create a personal feeling.

What to have for a summer tablescape – including Katie’s must-have tabletop

The best part of creating a table setting? You probably already have most of the items you’ll want to use for serving and decorating.

“I always like to collect things when I travel,” says Miller. “If there are things you like that you use on your table, whether it’s candlesticks, dishes or an ashtray, that looks like you and that also makes things easier.” Having basics on hand like candles and vases not only saves you money, but it also makes table decorating easier.

Using items you love means you can more easily imagine how you want to set up a table for entertaining. Katie likes to use small bud vases to put single flowers in, not only because it puts the flowers in the spotlight, but because the arrangements don’t block the view of the person in front of you.

Things like seashells you may have picked up on vacation or glass cylinders you put candles in are also great additions to a summer tablescape. “I intertwine small bud vases with conch shells and battery-operated candles,” Katie explains. “It’s beautiful at night and just as charming during the day.”

Keep in mind if you plan to entertain indoors or outdoors. Outdoor sets require slightly heavier decorations, just so they don’t blow away with a gust of wind. That doesn’t mean you can’t use things you normally would have inside, like candle holders or regular tableware, though.

We know this tip is just a starting point, but that’s the beauty of creating your own table decor: it’s all based on what you like and what you want your guests to feel. If you’re planning on hosting friends and family this summer, here are some decorating ideas to get you started, but don’t forget to raid your own collection before adding anything new to your home. your basket.

Summer table decoration ideas and essentials


If you’re going to be outdoors, melamine plates and bowls are a great alternative to ceramic or glass pieces. They won’t break if dropped or bumped, and they can easily be rinsed in the sink or tossed in the dishwasher after your guests leave.

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Candle holders

driftwood centerpiece

You can certainly use glass cylinders to hold your tealights, but if you want to use candles as a centerpiece, having a sculptural candle holder like this one made from driftwood will make a real statement. Not only does this one give off a major beach vibe, but it will look stunning on a shelf or in a cabinet when not in use on a table.

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our place glasses

Who says you have to go out and buy new glasses for a summer dinner with friends? These from Our Place are designed for everyday use, and their simple design means they’ll go with any type of decor. They even nest inside each other for easy storage.

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homemade bowls of leeway

For salad or fruit, the small bowls placed on your plates are both decorative and functional. These are made from stoneware clay, which is durable (but not indestructible). They are also perfect for cereals or yogurts for everyday use.

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A table runner

table runner for home

Having a table runner in the center of your table adds visual interest without adding too much height. This one from HomeGoods is beaded, which gives it a nice texture and adds a bit of bling to your table. Plus, because it’s nautical themed, you can use it all summer long.

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linen napkins

Even if you only eat bites, napkins are essential. You can always opt for paper towels for easy cleaning, but these linen towels will last you years and can easily be thrown in the washing machine after everyone’s gone. We love the linen texture of these from Pottery Barn, which just lends to the summer tablescape you have underway.

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Outdoor rugs

sturdy back

For an even cozier atmosphere, add an outdoor rug under your table. This one from KCM’s favorite Ruggable can easily be washed, so it’s not suitable for pollen-filled summers or dirty shoes. Plus, if you ever get tired of the print, you can easily buy another Ruggable cover to switch up your look without paying an arm and a leg for a whole new rug.

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An outdoor dining set

outdoor dining set

If you plan to have a sit-down dinner with friends outdoors, you better have proper seating. This wood and woven chair and table set will look great on any deck or patio, and it’s weatherproof, so you can leave it outside all season.

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Serving plate

a cheese platter

Remember what we said about using your food as decoration? This serving tray is beautiful enough to stand on its own on the table, but it’s also large enough to hold a full array of cheese, crackers, and fruit. We love that it also has a built-in place for olives or dipping sauce.

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Citronella candles

citronella candle

Mosquitoes and flies won’t leave you alone just because you’re hosting a dinner party (which is rude, isn’t it?). These citronella candles come in beach containers that look great on the table, but they’ll also keep bugs away when lit. Trust us, your guests will thank you for the added pest protection.

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gold table decor

Chances are you already have some silverware that you could prepare for your guests, but if you want to upgrade, consider buying a set that isn’t silver in color. Those gold forks, spoons and knives are unexpected, but they look great against the linen napkins and neutral dinnerware that will be for your guests.

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