Summer may be on its way over, but fear not, there's still plenty of time to get together with friends and family and celebrate the last few weeks of warm weather and day-long sunshine! If you're looking to usher out the season in style, keep reading—we've gathered some useful end of summer party decor tips from a variety of entertaining experts.
Meet the Expert
Bring Out Trays or a Bar Cart
Summer may be winding down, but in many cases, it is still hot, hot, hot outside, so don't forget to keep your guests nice and hydrated. And that's where trays come in. "Outdoor trays are not only stylish, but they make it easy to carry beverages from the counter to guests while adding a touch of character to your outdoor space," notes Jessica Harris, manager of production design at Living Spaces.
If you have more space on your patio or are entertaining indoors, consider utilizing a bar cart, too. Harris is a proponent of wheeled options which can easily be relocated depending on where you're throwing your bash.
Grab Some Platters
If you're hosting a potluck, there are still some simple ways to ensure that your guests' dishes don't interfere with your aesthetic. "Make sure that any food coming from outside is transferred onto a nice serving platter or bowl," says Giora Stuchiner, food and floral stylist at Christine Janda Design and Events in Chicago. "Pull them out in advance and keep them ready to be plated. Your table will look fabulous and your guests are more likely to enjoy the food when it’s out of the container."
Get Creative With Your Tablescape
No matter what you choose to serve, you can find ways to have a bit of fun with a theme. If you're hosting a lobster bake, for example, add in some coastal inspired decorations, suggests Courtney Ward, the owner and primary event planner at Mainely Modern in South Portland, Maine. Cane and rattan placemats, shell-themed napkins, and other festive entertaining pieces will look right at home on your patio table.
Let Your Food Double as Decor
You're going to want to keep your guests well fed during your soiree, so why not turn your table of appetizers into something a little more aesthetically pleasing? A charcuterie board can look super artful and professional if you stock up on colorful ingredients and arrange everything on an oversized wooden platter. "Everyone loves charcuterie and it's so much fun to create," Stuchiner says. "Fresh seasonal fruit is the perfect accoutrement for cheese and cured meats—think grapes, apricots, peaches, cherries and berries." Those more advanced at assembling charcuterie boards may want to try some of Stuchiner's "skewered favorites," including prosciutto wrapped melon wedges or mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.
Set Up a Fire Pit
Talk about an Instagrammable moment! A fire pit does it all, as Harris explains. "An outdoor fire pit instantly gives your guests somewhere to gather and chat while also providing extra warmth and lighting so the party can go on once the sun sets," she says. "Better yet, party guests can roast marshmallows, hot dogs, and other treats using a fire pit, making it a source of entertainment as well." If you're worried about not having enough activities for your guests, you can certainly check that concern off the list!
Ward offers a few ways to incorporate a fire pit into your overall decor scheme and suggests taking things to the next level by throwing a rustic campfire themed bash. "Grab those wooden barrels, crates, lanterns, and s’more sticks," she says. "Adding some fairy lights to mason jars and hanging them from trees is a great way to make it feel like you’re surrounded by 'lightning bugs' all night long!"
Don't Forget the Flowers
What's a summer gathering without florals? Stuchiner offers a simple hack for creating the perfect display in a vase. "Use clear sticky tape to make a simple grid on the top of your vase to keep your stems in place," he says. "You can forage for foliage in your backyard and mix it together with some grocery store flowers!"