Setting The Table for Summer

on June 23, 2011
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Pair Seasonal Wine with Your Meal

When choosing summer glassware for your table, opt for stemware that will work equally well with water, wine, tea or soda. Choose clear glass in a universal style so you can use a single set for a variety of occasions throughout the season.

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Bring Out Your Best

Eating outdoors doesn't mean you need to dine on paper plates with plastic forks and knives. But if you want to keep your nice silver indoors, pick up an inexpensive but pretty set of flatware on sale. To kick up the charm a notch, snag some mismatched antique pieces from a flea market. Just remember to polish after use!

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Prep the Table

When setting a summer table, ambiance is everything. Besides, your showstopping meal deserves a beautifully set stage. Look for a locale with some nearby shade and preferably away from ponds or pools; standing water invites buzzing pests. And do you know which way the wind is blowing? You should. A strong enough gust from the wrong direction will take table toppers with it, so be mindful on breezy days.

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Set Up a Buffet

If you have a problem with flies or bees in your backyard, set up a buffet indoors in an area which is easily accessible to both the kitchen and outdoor dining area.

Create a Softly Lit Setting

Think about how you want to light your table, especially for dinners that will stretch into evening hours. Small lanterns and hurricane lamps are always romantic and will stay lit even when there is a summer breeze. On buggy evenings, use citronella candles in place of tea lights.

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Try a Summery Theme

Dress your table with splashes of color and flair for a fun feel. Use a simple white tablecloth, casual but classy serving pieces, and centerpiece details that add pops of color without detracting from the real draw - the food.

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

All of the Lights

Chinese-style paper lanterns make lovely mood-setters, and they tend to run in the $10-$20 a strand range for the electric variety and even less for votive holders like these. If no electrical outlet is handy and you still want to cast a charming glow, opt for the candle-powered version and hang in the dining area with simple rustic string and clothes pins.

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Herb Bouquet

Create winsome bouquets from your garden with rosemary, parsley, basil, cilantro and whatever other herbs you have on hand. Plop them here and there throughout the dining and entertaining area as a fresh, fragrant detail. It's also great to have such bouquets nearby for emergency seasonings!

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Create Elegant Flower Centerpieces

When dining in your garden or yard, you don't need much to enhance the already beautiful surroundings. Just collect flowers, fresh herbs and stones from your garden and create simple homemade centerpieces. Small and unique glass vases can be picked up for pennies at a craft store or antique shop.

Mark Boughton Photography

Handling a Crowd

When entertaining a large group, organize your guests at a long communal table and serve family style. It's an inviting alternative to serving buffet style and encourages table-friendly intimacy, no matter how many folks are at the table. Just place platters down the center of the table and instruct everyone to pass to the right.