Summer is all about relaxing in the great outdoors while spending time with friends and family. Two of my favorite ways to celebrate the season are serving inventive fresh food and decorating with imaginative floral arrangements. But, you still want to keep things “easy breezy” so you can enjoy your get together and catch up with guests. Even though most summer gatherings are casual, a theme is still a good idea as it streamlines planning. You probably have some delicious recipes or colors in mind, so why not choose a theme based on them. Touch base with your florist who will have some amazing floral decorating ideas that will enhance your gathering and hold up in the heat. Here are a couple of summer entertaining ideas to get you started.

Pretty as a Picnic

Most picnics are impromptu; grab a blanket, container of food, and you’re good to go. Step it up for this classic summertime outing by inviting friends to a picnic with panache. The picnic can take place at a park or even a beach! (Check with local officials about reserving a spot or other questions you may have, for example, rules about beverages in glass bottles.)

Go with vibrant colors from food to flowers, and choose a menu that features “all in one foods,” such as my recipe for Yellow Tomato, Feta and Mint Cups. The luscious yellow tomato cup holds individual salads. This type of menu item eliminates the need for extra serving bowls, and the container is edible making clean up a snap. Another crowd pleaser is my Proscuitto, Melon, and Kiwi Appetizer.

Pretty up the spread with stylish disposable plates and utensils rolled in paper napkins tied with grosgrain ribbon in a complementary color to your flowers, the centerpiece of your picnic table. Ask your florist to design the flowers in a fun container thematic to your location and easy to transport. Tuck a flower in each napkin to tie in with the centerpiece.

Sophisticated Grill Out

Now “sophisticated” doesn’t have to be stuffy. For me, upscale summer entertaining means going a bit deeper into flavor combinations for appetizers and dessert, such as the recipes below, and keeping it simple for the main entrée with tasty steaks and seasonal vegetables like corn or asparagus.

Grilled Figs with Balsamic Syrup and Roquefort and Candied Walnuts on Honey Pumpernickel Toast

Rosemary Marshmallows

S’mores Pie

For this type of BBQ party, delicious food and a beautiful tabletop are all you need to hit a homerun. Consider buying a new set of casual plates with a summer motif. Trendy plates can really perk up a table and even set the tone for the party. Bring any kind of ‘inspiration piece” that you have to your florist so they can design the perfect centerpiece for this al fresco affair, and all you have to do is grill and chill. Ask your florist for a few extra flowers to scatter on serving trays for an added festive look.

Check out aboutflowers.com for more ideas on using flowers for theme parties.

Tell me, what are some of your favorite summer entertaining ideas?