Memorial Weekend kicked off the start of Summer Entertaining outdoors! And with so many opportunities to choose from, it can get a little tricky balancing and planning gatherings – from pool parties to a backyard birthday bash – movie nights to the family barbeque- daytime bridal or baby showers – to even relaxed sunset engagement parties to an intimate outdoor wedding. One commonality between all of these outdoor summer soirees will be the need for recipes, trays and barcarts and today, on Hadley Court, I will share with you some of my favorite Summer Entertaining Tips!
Add fun and color poolside with a color FULL barcart!
En lieu of an actual ‘cart’, you can also repurpose a plant shelf to create a drink station – image via
Barcarts can become an extra surface not only for mixing drinks and serving refreshing summer beverages, but they can become dessert carts for fresh fruits, smores, or ice cream — and they can also be a stylish storage area for plates and utensils, especially if you’re entertaining buffet style. Trays can come in handy for engaging with guests while making the rounds to serve summer fresh appetizers such as cucumber & tomato bites to even kabobs or grilled chicken skewers hot off the grill. Trays can also be used to stylishly keep your barcart – or buffet table – organized by corralling smaller clusters of items into an easy to access place.
Sometimes, a barcart can be too small for your summer soiree – if that’s the case, go for a shady spot to set up a beverage station – including a tray filled with chips & dip.
Beautiful buffet table set featured at BrightBoldBeautiful.com
When setting buffet tables, think of flow and circulation – an order for going around the table, with the height of the centerpiece in the center for drama. For buffet tables set against a wall, create table composition height towards the back of the table, mainly with the centerpiece, but you can also create another level using simple clay pots as risers for various trays. The trays can be as elegant as your collection of silver, woven and rattan trays gathered from various vintage shops or colorful solid color trays you can easily find at home specialty stores. For added playful interest, inserts made from fabric, napkins or even your favorite printed wrapping paper can be used and changed out to suit your summer style.
Love this fresh summer tomato and cheese platter – perfect for relaxed outdoor entertaining.
A strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing can be very refreshing – get the recipe here.
Grilling with wooden skewers tip: Soak them in water first to help prevent them from burning.
5 Tips for Summer Outdoor Entertaining
1. Choose beverages and foods that can be served cold and that won’t disintegrate in the heat – bite sized finger foods are perfect for trays and platters – especially served on skewers or handy and edible fruit salad cones…
2. A vintage metal tea cart can serve as an outdoor barcart, holding a pitcher of refreshing lemonade, sweet tea or sangria mixed with fresh fruits from your local farmer’s market. Another creative solution to functionally style your summer barcart is to freeze flowers into ice cubes to use as colorful chillers in clear ice buckets. A non-alcoholic use for bar carts is having them function as an ice cream topping or popcorn bar for a summer movie night out under the stars.
This Le Cadeaux Orange Blossom line from Gracious Home brings beauty and elegance to an outdoor party or casual indoor entertaining.
3. Make use of everyday items from around your house to help create personalized touches to your outdoor gathering. If breakage concerns you, plates made of melamine can give the impression of formal china, but without the worries of breakage. Visit Gracious Home to see an additional beautiful selection of elegant and must have melamine for your outdoor style.
Entertaining near the coast? You may like this Nautical Yacht Entertaining Collection from Frontgate.
4. Round tables are wonderful for small, intimate dinner parties creating engaging conversation flow, while long, banquet tables work best for hosting larger gatherings or a barbeque buffet feast. For a great source of elegant and stylish outdoor entertaining-ware, visit Frontgate.com
A thoughtful way to pamper your guests via Country Living.
Using trays for summer entertaining can also become a teachable moment for a future hostess.
For additional outdoor entertaining tips, read ‘Get your Home ready For Summer Entertaining in 5 Simple Steps‘ – at a Life Styled. For more inspiration for Summer entertaining, see these 22 Outdoor Party Ideas and Themes featured at Country Living.
Do you have any other Summer Entertaining ideas or tips to share? We’d love to hear about them!
Please share your thoughts in the comments and, as always thank you for reading and subscribing to Leslie’s blog, Hadley Court.
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Decorator – Chancellor Interiors
Founder, Editor In Chief
Gracious Living. Timeless Design. Family Traditions.