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Table settings for outdoor gatherings

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Decorating an outdoor soiree

Dress up an outdoor rendezvous with your own personal touch. Whether you are looking for an exotic, elegant, casual or beach theme, spice up your party with these simple and affordable table decorating ideas.

Decorating an outdoor soiree

Exotic Table Settings

Express your exotic side with neutral base colors and bold accents. Keep your base colors natural, opting for earth tones. Then match tablecloths, napkins, chargers, and vases that have natural colors with an exotic pattern.

Bright colors like coral and turquoise, are ideal accent colors for an exotic theme. Be sure to get coordinating napkin rings, plates, glasses, flowers, pillows, chair covers, and silverware in bold colors to stand out against the neutrals. Summer is the perfect time to use bold colors and patterns, so go big and impressive.

You can find turquoise and coral dinnerware at Target.
Neutral color accent pillows can be found at

Classic Table Settings

Yellow and blue are the quintessential classic summer colors. Use a blue tablecloth and napkins with yellow plates and bowls. Arrange a vase full of yellow flowers or fill a vase with bright yellow lemons for a beautiful table centerpiece.
Visit Dillards for yellow accent plates. For a blue classic tablecloth, check out Williams Sonoma.

Elegant Table Settings

Even if you are throwing a garden party in your backyard, you can still make it elegant with regal rich colors, such as brown, gold, and dark green partnered with silver tableware. Use elaborate candleholders and goblets for the feeling of grandeur. Williams Sonoma carries this elegantly gorgeous platter as well as these regal placemats.

Beach-themed table settings

If you are looking for that "day at the beach" vibe, stick with bright blues and crisp whites. Use bright blue placemats topped with bright white dishes. Keep the table setting to a minimum to maintain a casual feel. Group large seashells in the middle of the table for an oceanic centerpiece. Pick up coastal white plates and bold accent serving platters at Target.

Decorating an outdoor soiree

Bold & brilliant

Here's an idea... we all know how large gatherings -- especially the outdoor kinds -- can make us forget our diets quicker than you can say "please pass the potatoes." With that in mind, Slimware has created a really sleak line of plates that serve as a sneaky, yet simple reminder for us not to overeat.

Taking advantage of our mental predisposition to "stay in the lines," these Slimware plates have designated space for controlled portion sizes so that you limit your food intake without even realizing it. It's worth a shot, plus they are available in four eye-catching designs that will complement nearly any setting:  Sunburst (yellow), Central Park (green), Downtown Chic (black & white) and Urban Safari (leopard). Available at

For more party organizing & decorating ideas, check out:

Dining room table decorating trends for summer

Festive holiday tablesettings

Garden-themed Christmas tree

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