Summer is in full swing, and it’s time for outdoor entertaining. Gather your friends and family to celebrate and enjoy the relaxing warm weather. Thanks to trendy and beautiful outdoor spaces with all the comfort of interior rooms, we have blurred the lines between indoor and outdoor entertaining. The secret to stunning summer entertaining is to bring your favorite indoor decor items outdoors and have fun decorating with them. A few simple steps and your summer celebrations can begin.

1.    Seating Plan. Decide if guests will dine at tables, eat while standing or lounge in deck chairs. If you are having a family-style gathering, be sure everyone can sit together at one table or join tables for a traditional meal. If you’re having a large crowd, think “vignettes” creating small seating areas. Using colorful indoor rugs to create seating areas adds a touch of elegance.

2.    Nightlights. If your soirée lasts past sundown, impress your guests with ambient light. Think about your theme and choose lights accordingly. For family-style entertaining, strings of lights overhead fit the bill. For casual fun, colored paper lanterns hanging from patios or trees set the mood. For an inexpensive option, weave strands of small, clear lights through trees, shrubs and fences. I prefer candles in torches and hurricanes on every surface to create a romantic setting. For extra large parties, create “rooms” with tiki torches, and don’t forget to line your walkways.

3.    Flowing Curtains. To create the perfect outdoor room, hang white sheers or heavier, brightly colored, sun-safe canvas curtains from patio covers, overhangs or even heavy tree branches. Nothing says “space and elegance” more than flowing fabric.

4.    Pretend. When you treat outdoor spaces just like you would indoor spaces, they come alive. Add plush decorative pillows, cushions, and throws to seating to make outdoor furniture look inviting and elegant. While shopping, pretend you are accessorizing an indoor space and you’ll get it just right.

5.    Floral Focus. Create eye-catching focal points to gel your party’s theme. Grouping empty wine bottles full of colorful blooms perfects a food and wine pairing. Have your florist create arrangements featuring fruits and vegetables, like artichokes, limes and purple cabbages. Be sure to tell your floral artist what flowers are planted around the garden to be sure the colors flow throughout the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Follow these simple tips, and your guests will be talking about your beautiful summer parties until, well, until the next one!

What are your favorite outdoor decorations for summer parties?