15 Stylish Outdoor Entertaining Essentials You'll Use All Summer Long
Entertaining is a breeze when you have a dreamy summer day for a backdrop. With the scene set, Shannon Wollack and Brittany Zwickl, the designers behind Studio Life.Style, say the secret to keeping the party going long after the sun goes down (and well into the summer months) is to envision your outdoor space the same way you would an indoor room.
Here, pots of cornflowers and a bloom-dappled tablecloth set a serene scene for dinner with friends. Offset them with simple stoneware, faded terra-cotta urns, and baskets for décor that feels equally intentional and easy to pack up once outdoor entertaining season wraps up.
Wollack and Zwickl also recommend using a basket to keep throw blankets and outdoor rugs on hand—an effortless way to bring your indoor living room outside and a practical solution for guests looking to kick back after dinner is done. Sprinkling votive candles and hurricane lanterns throughout an outdoor living space is another easy way to keep the atmosphere warm and inviting even as evening temperatures dip. And upholstered seating—covered in a durable, weather-proof fabric like canvas, of course—helps give an outdoor space a more lived-in look that is both comfortable and stylish.
Just as you would indoors, set up a few distinct "zones" for guests to perch, treating each as its own spot to congregate. The modern outdoor essentials we've rounded up here cover all the details for an alfresco gathering—and they'll make guests feel cool and comfortable, whether you're hosting at home or farther afield.
Clink Something Safer
Martha's Americana Collection—available at Macy's—has everything you need for a festive summertime celebration (it's particularly perfect for the Fourth of July), from melamine plates and serving trays (they're safe for outdoor use) to popsicle molds and dip bowls.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection Americana Collection, from $13.99, macys.com.
Go Soft and Sustainable
Cotton napkins are a greener alternative to traditional paper options, and they look prettier too. These come in eco-inked prints and are flour sack-sturdy. We also like that these beauties are BBQ-friendly: They're pre-shrunk, so you can wash them in stain-lifting hot water.
Shop Now: June & December Mixed Woodblock Chicory Napkins, $38 for four, junedecember.com.
Set It in Stoneware
With their oval shapes and hand-painted florals, these platters look artful on any table.
Shop Now: Niels Refsgaard Dansk "Vandvid" Ceramic Platters, $135 for 3, food52.com.
A rattan-wrapped thermos gives iced tea or even plain H2O island flavor.
Shop Now: Amanda Lindroth Rattan-Wrapped Thermos, $150, amandalindroth.com.
Raise the Bar
Color Me Melamine
Pack and Play
Lay Down a "Laplom"
Serving an extra-messy meal? Upgrade your dining experience with kitchen towels in place of napkins. The extra square inches fully protect clothes for cross-legged eating.
Shop Now: IKEA "Vardagen" Kitchen Towels, $4 each, ikea.com.
Ensure each guest has the utensils they'll need by zipping wooden-handled flatware into a canvas utility pouch, which buffers the pointy tips and keeps everything together.
Carry a Tune
With a handsome Italian-leather handle and 20 hours of playback time, this speaker lives up to its name, which means, "Let's go!"
Shop Now: Tivoli "Andiamo" Speaker, $149, tivoliaudio.com.