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Setting Your Summer Table

By Sabrina Kaufman

As your spirits become slightly raised in anticipation of the lazy days of summer and all the celebrations the season brings, there’s no doubt you have started to focus on entertaining. Summer does mean warmer weather and with it comes the promise of backyard barbecues, family gatherings with backyard games, deck parties and maybe even a pool party or two. Summer-inspired recipes, like those made with fresh fruits and cool vegetable salads, that get you out of the kitchen and outside are on everyone’s mind. As you prepare for your summer soirees, don’t forget to set your summer table.

Whether you have a sprawling backyard with a picnic table or two, or a small patio with nothing more than a small bistro set, a table set for summer will make outdoor dining that much more enjoyable. Your summer table can be an extension of your indoor living space or used to create an outdoor style completely different than what you live with indoors year-round. You might choose to stick with a single design or have several different themes to set off each outdoor event you host.

When choosing linens for your summer table, think bright, warm and breezy. Let the colors of your surrounding landscape inspire your color and pattern choices. Bright reds, greens, and yellows are ideal for summer settings as are bold prints of summer flowers like daisies and sunflowers. Coastal themes, like boats, lighthouses, and beaches, can be brought into focus with colors such as bright whites and varying shades of blue. For a patriotic feel that embraces all of summer’s holidays, opt for traditional red, white, and blue colors, and stars and stripes patterns.

Depending on your outdoor furniture collection, you can also mix and match colors, patterns, fabrics, and textures. Drape round tables with a round table cloth; accent the table cloth with a large square napkin placed in the middle and adorned with a centerpiece. For larger tables, like rectangular patio tables and picnic tables, you might opt for placemats or a simple runner. Choose an array of fabrics, like vinyl for picnic tables exposed to elements and cloth for tables located in sunrooms or under the cover of a patio awning.

Don’t forget to give your table accents that represent summer. Create centerpieces from flowers that are in season or cut fresh from your garden. Cut flowers can be placed in a vase of water and serve as a centerpiece for a large table or simply an accent for smaller ones. Purchase potted plants and fruit and vegetable containers to sit on tables so you can enjoy them longer than cut flowers. You can even dress up the areas surrounding your table with larger floral containers flanking the ends of a table.

To set a summer table for poolside enjoyment, place candles that repel inspects but aren’t heavily scented alongside centerpieces. As the sun fades, the insects won’t bother your family or guests as they lounge about enjoying the setting sun and fewer insects will invade during dinner or cocktails. If you have an outdoor bar, consider linens and accessories for it that will match the table settings and place the table and bar where they are easily accessible.

If you have a picnic table, look for padded bench cushions to make for more comfortable seating. Use simple centerpieces that can be easily cleared away when its time to eat or to make room for table games. Flannel back, vinyl tablecloths are good choices for picnic tables because they are somewhat thicker than cloth, obscuring the gaps between tabletop slats.

Remember to practice food safety when hosting outdoor gatherings and don’t leave perishable foods exposed to the sun or heat longer than necessary. Replace ice and keep dishes covered to avoid spoiling and contamination. Don’t cut into summer fruits, like watermelon, until they are ready to be served. Use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of grilled food without cutting into meat and releasing juices.

Whether you’re hosting a family reunion, a 4th of July picnic, or a simple summer dinner with friends, let your summer table be a reflection of relaxation, warmth, and all the good things summer stands for. Formal or casual, tables set in linens made of lightweight material or easy-to-clean vinyl in bright, cheery colors will add flair to your backyard gatherings. Keep enough table linens and place settings on hand to change them out, as frequent washing is often required for outdoor tableware and linens.

At we offer thousands of coordinated styles and sizes reflecting the latest pattern and color trends. It’s simply an entertainers paradise. From casual at-home entertaining, to weddings, showers and special events, will help you create the perfect setting every time. Find the right placemats, chair pads or napkin rings to take your table from ordinary to extraordinary. Visit online today.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Kaufman, Sabrina "Setting Your Summer Table." Setting Your Summer Table. 22 Jun. 2010. 19 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Kaufman, S (2010, June 22). Setting Your Summer Table. Retrieved August 19, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Kaufman, Sabrina "Setting Your Summer Table"

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