|image via Lucky Magazine|
With a little advance planning and a few key details in mind, it's easy to come up with a beautifully designed summer kickoff bash that will give guests something to remember. For my dinner party, I chose to focus on concepts that embody the season: vibrant flowers, classic-meets-playful patterns and color schemes, garden fresh foods, a light, summery wine, music made for spontaneous dance parties, and for my hostess outfit, a casual, feminine-yet-edgy sundress and sandals. My only set rule for entertaining is to get preparations done early enough in the day that I can relax with my guests. Because like summer itself, this type of blissful gathering never lasts quite long enough, and every moment should be enjoyed with reckless abandon.
Read on for the details of how I designed and styled my party, and where you can get the goods to host one of your own! (You can also read my piece for Lucky Magazine right here.)
This time of year marks a transition from rainy skies into sunshine and vivid hues, so for the color theme, I felt inspired to combine classic neutrals like grey, black, and white, with pops of bright, bold tones. One of the ways I brought color to the food was by adding fresh strawberries and sliced green apples to organic mixed greens. This is an easy way to create a colorful summer party salad that's as lovely to look at as it is to eat.
(Pinot Gris $20, La Crema; cotton steel grey napkin, $3.95 each, Crate and Barrel; white wine glass set of 4, $49.95, Williams-Sonoma ; classic wine coaster, Crate and Barrel; aspen dinnerware, $64.95-$69.95, Crate and Barrel. Some great salad cookbooks: Salad Days, $12.79, Amazon; Salad of the Day Cookbook, $34.95, Williams-Sonoma)
For the wine, I served La Crema Pinot Gris. Bright and fruity, it's the perfect 'anytime wine,' and a deliciously summery choice for casual gatherings.
My go-to summer party outfit is always a comfortable yet elegant dress that makes a statement. For this event, I also wanted to wear something that coincided with the color theme (neutral with pops of color). My dress's bodice was filled with feminine ruffles, so I contrasted that with edgy studded black sandals. I love heels, but when I'm hosting an outdoor gathering, flats are infinitely more appealing.
(Target dress, sold out. Similar style: Parisian Slip, $88, Free People; Odella Gladiator Stud Sandal, $19.99, Target; Pinto Gris, $20, La Crema)
The table setting featured silverware bunched with chives from my garden and tied up into grey napkins with black and white striped ribbon.
For summertime social activities, I tend to opt for bold nail polish shades (I chose coral here) and lots of mixed accessories in gold, silver and turquoise.
(Cotton Steel Grey Napkin, $3.95 each, Crate and Barrel; Peach Daiquiri nail polish, $7.79, Essie; Turquoise Necklace, $23, Oh Nostalgia; La Mer Simple Wrap Watch in Black, $88, ShopBop; ring, picked up in a Colorado rock shop)
A summer cheese tray featuring a variety of fresh local cheeses, almonds, olives, red grapes, homemade preserves and crackers is a perfect complement to a refreshing summer wine like La Crema Pinot Gris. And for an easy, delicious main dish, try a light vegetarian pasta (linguine, grape tomatoes, shredded spinach, olive oil, and spices) served in a pretty bowl.
(Bowl, handmade. Similar style: Le Creuset Serving Bowl, $44.95, Sur La Table; Slate Cheese Serving Board, $44.95, Williams-Sonoma)
The biggest entertaining lesson that I've learned over the years is to always make an effort to get party preparations done early on. This allows me to spend quality time hanging out with guests (and time to start spontaneous dance parties) during the event itself.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, 'And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.' I’m pretty sure the same can be said for outdoor dinner parties. I hope that this guide to throwing a summer soiree provides some inspiration for those of you thinking about hosting some fun backyard gatherings of your own in the upcoming months. Happy summer friends!
P.S. La Crema will be hosting a fun 'Pair and Win' contest where you can win $200, starting on May 28th. Just click here to get the deets.
This post was sponsored by La Crema and Lucky Magazine.