Spring has officially arrived, and with it comes the promise of summer and leisurely meals enjoyed al fresco. To host the perfect party – no matter your personal style – we turned to the experts for their secrets, namely style and entertaining expert , tabletop and linens label , and floral designer Kristen Caissie of . Whether your style is more in line with a laid-back afternoon picnic or a traditional sit-down, we have all their tips to add both a refined and rustic feel to your spring and summer events. Here, four ways to style your table for outdoor affairs – and the dozens of tricks experts and editors use when throwing the perfect summer fete.
Rather than fuss over fancy plating and multiple courses, host an on-the-lawn affair with dishes that are designed for all-day grazing. A luxe picnic sets the laid-back, easy tone you're after, but dress it up with dinnerware and décor that isn't strictly intended for outdoor use.
Use loose yet luxe throws and h pillows that will have guests wanting to lounge for hours. Edible decor to complement the table's arrangements will give diners access to interact with your tablescape, so open whole fresh fruits and lay out boards of cheese or charcuterie. The goal is to serve items that that welcome all-day nibbling, rather than an atmosphere where guests feel more inclined to dine and dash. Don't stick to one type of vessel or one style of setting – mix it up. Using different candles, centerpieces paired with a tonal, light-neutral palettes give off a more bohemian feel.
Astier de Villatte plates, ; Lue Brass cutlery, ; Nickey Kehoe placemats, ; Moon Canyon Florals, ; Heather Taylor Home linens, available for rent or purchase at .
A slightly unbuttoned take on a ladies' lunch offers a festive, yet undeniably feminine flair to any event – day or night. Mixing brights with pops of pastels for a fun, youthful feel exudes a quiet confidence in your bold style.
Take advantage of your surroundings – like the pop of color your garden's camellias bring to the table – and run with them as your go-to source of inspiration. Color is your blueprint to orchestrating both a perfectly set table, and a stellar dinner service. Here, pops of pink, natural greens and turquoise could lead you to serve a menu that's just as vibrant – like a starter of a pink grapefruit, endive and avocado salad with a lemon vinaigrette, followed by an entrée of poached salmon with pink lentils. Odds are, the natural tones of your table will result in a menu that's as delicious as it is a feast for the eyes. And don't ditch the details – remember that all the fun and whimsy you harnessed in setting your table should also come out in the plating of your dishes.
Cutipol flatware,; Moon Canyon Florals, ; Heather Taylor Home linens, available for rent or purchase at .
Channel the scents, colors and effortlessness of your favorite far-flung destination – be it Hawaii, Tulum, a Caribbean island or Koh Samui – for a non-floral centerpiece that manifests the meal that lies ahead.
In the warmest weather, steer clear of delicate blooms that will likely wilt as the night goes on. Forage leaves and flowers from your garden or surroundings to utilize natural elements that clearly know how to beat the heat, along with halved citrus and fruit for a vibrant scene. Use linens and dinnerware that add a graphic punch to an already festive gathering, and opt for natural baskets, ceramics and anything with a hand-done touch to embrace the warm, island feel you'll undoubtedly achieve – no matter where you're playing host. Serve dishes that drive home the theme that's subtly strewn through your table's setting – like a plated vegetable dish with Mexican roots or a grilled fish served with vegetables on a bed of coconut rice for an infusion of Thai flavors.
Nickey Kehoe bowls, ; Heather Taylor Home linens, available for rent or purchase at .
Crisp whites and royal blues evoke chinoiserie classics. Adding a contrasting yet natural pop of mustard or poppy in your florals will make this traditional setting less stuffy; while choosing linens with a worn, toothy texture to dress a traditional table will create an appealing ambiance that feels inherently more inviting.
Keep your table dressings monochromatic and pure white – but embrace texture and tonal stripes to add warmth and visual interest. Use what's already in your kitchen – like the fresh berries you plan to serve in cocktails and with dessert – along with your floral centerpieces to emphasize your color scheme and your meal's flavors in full-force. Cocktails served during the day should be something primed for easy-drinking, like this elderberry spritz, that allow your guests to leave feeling relaxed, but not over-served.
Royal Copenhagen plates, ; Heather Taylor Home linens, available for rent or purchase at .; Moon Canyon Florals, .
Created by Kate Berry with Heather Taylor and Kristen Caissie; Photography by Jenna Peffley. Special Thanks to Heather Taylor Home and Moon Canyon Design.