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Tips for summer entertaining in style

Karen Bussen is one of America’s most exciting entertaining experts, and the author of the wildly successful “Simple Stunning” series of entertaining books. Karen creates one-of-a-kind celebrations for luminary hosts in the worlds of bus...

Summer entertaining tips

When the days and nights get warmer, it’s time to invite friends over and enjoy fresh food, delicious drinks, and easy, effortless style. Maybe it’s an al fresco dinner on your patio or a cocktail party with the doors and windows open to let in the cool evening breeze. Regardless, repeat after me: Summer is the season to celebrate in style every day!

Summer Decor

Oftentimes the "planning" part of having a party can seem daunting. I know! I plan fabulous parties for my clients all year round, but I also love to celebrate at home, with a laid back but polished vibe that says, "Cheers!" So come with me, and I'll show you a few home décor and entertaining tips and tricks to help you spruce up your place, infuse it with inviting style, and get you ready to entertain this summer whenever you like…and without breaking the bank.

Add Summer Style to Your Home

An easy way to update your home any time of year is to change little things from season to season.

Cheap and easy tips to give your home décor a summer update:

  • Choose an accent color that really says "summer" to you – vibrant green, chic turquoise, or sunny yellow are some of my favorites – then infuse your space with little touches in these colors.
  • Get a quart of paint in your chosen color and paint just one small wall in your dining room or living area.
  • Add a few fun throw pillows or an inexpensive rug.
  • Cut out and frame magazine photos that are inspirational and hang them in a cluster on an accent wall.

Color makes a space sing, and a change in color is the easiest way to refresh your space and add summery spirit.

Personalize your parties

Visit www.ForYourParty.com and order some personalized cocktail napkins with your monogram or fun sayings, or just summery motifs like flowers or shells. Order extra and keep them on hand all summer for a polished look at any party. If you want to take it to the next level, order the linen-like hand towels for your bathroom to coordinate – they're affordable, fun, and make you look like you've got a direct line to Bespoke Central.

Create a Summer Soundtrack

Add song to your entertaining plan. Take an evening and sort through your music. Create a light and airy summer playlist that will work for a weekend brunch or jazzy evening cocktails. Need inspiration? Think Norah Jones, Michael Franks, and anything Latin, from salsa to samba to bossa nova.

Secret weapon for hostess success: Party Pantry

Believe it or not, I prefer to be a lazy host. What I mean is, I want to be at my party having fun, not working it. That's why my party pantry is my secret weapon. What is a party pantry? It's a place in your home where you gather elements for entertaining. It could be a closet, a cupboard, or in my case, a simple white shelving unit; simply use whatever space you have. The idea is to collect things in this space so that you're organized, prepared, and inspired to celebrate more often.

Serving platters and bowls

Shop sales for pretty platters and bowls. If you don't know what color to get, start with white. Food looks wonderful on white plates, and it mixes in with any other patterns you might add later. You can use the platters to hold food or pillar candles for a centerpiece, and the bowls have so many possible uses, from filling them with salads or pastas or rice, flipping them upside-down to use as pedestals, floating candles, or holding apples or limes as a decorative accent.

Party drinkware

Stock your party pantry with pretty wine glasses, accent glasses (funky water goblets, colorful martini glasses, etc), and mix-and-match champagne flutes (I like to put them all out on a tray and let guests choose their glass "personality").

Stylish summer tablescapes

An assortment of napkins and napkin rings and placemats lets you switch up the mood of your table according to your party theme. Be sure to keep a plentiful supply of white, unscented candles within easy reach to give your party instant ambience. Especially for summer, make room for citronella candles and windproof lanterns, as well as a festive drink dispenser and pitchers to help serve larger groups.

Party foods

Keep items on hand that are not quickly perishable: mixed nuts, dried fruits, flavored breadsticks, drunken olives, popcorn. This way, when the urge to entertain strikes, you already have some little nibbles handy, and you can make a quick stop at the market to pick up a great hunk of cheese and whatever fresh items you need for your menu.

Summer is the season for the best fruits and vegetables. Look around and connect with your local farmer's market and artisanal food producers. Pick up a special cheese or some heirloom tomatoes and show these tasty treasures off to all your friends. You'll be supporting your local economy, eating the freshest food possible, and looking so in-the-know! You don't even have to be a culinary hero – mix great quality store-bought items with simple salads and grilled or steamed fish or meat for the perfect summer menu.

Now all that's left to do is invite the crew over, stop at the market, light the candles, slip on a pretty summer frock, press play, and let the celebrating continue in style all summer long!

More on decorating your home for summer

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