We may be currently residing in New York, but we are Californians at heart. And that means any time we can get together with some friends and celebrate the return of our cherished sun and warm weather with some tacos in the backyard is a win in our books.
And boy, let us tell you, nothing is better than these late summer nights. We love it so much we are exploding with all the outdoor summer dinner parties we have been wanting to host. So we decided to share some of our tried and true tips for how to style and create that breezy summer dinner party that dreams are made of.
First, we came up with our inspiration for the evening--that feeling or concept we wanted to carry through the decor. For this dinner, we were inspired by the summer evening itself. We decided to go with tones that were inspired by the sunset and play off colors that exuded the sense of being outdoors around the setting sun.
When you are picking your decor and color scheme, always ask yourself what mood do you want to exude? How do these certain colors make you feel? How will they make your guests feel?
Another helpful way to consider your decor styling, is to think about your menu. Where is the food taking you? Not only were we inspired by summer sunsets, but we were also inspired by the Spanish and Mexican influences of our menu. We wanted to play up the terracotta tile colors of spanish architecture and the blues in their tiles.
We decided to go bold on our menu and name card design with bright watercolors in the hues of the sunset. To tie the name cards together with the menu, we decided to go with a white script overlay for the names themselves.
We always suggest creating a menu and name cards for your dinner parties. We think it adds that special hand-made touch and even more so, ties the whole event together. Offering a menu for your guests shows that you are going the extra mile for them when they come to your home. I mean--who wouldn't want to sit down at the dinner table to a handwritten menu just for you?!
Now, when it comes to the food, here is another piece of advice: cocktail hours aren't only for weddings! If you are hosting and making the dinner for your guests, chances are you will need a little extra time to finish getting those meals ready. Don't leave your guests hanging! Create a space for the fun to begin as soon as your guests arrive. (Plus, it takes the pressure off of you to get the rest of the food out quickly!)
We had an array of (drool-worthy) cheeses, fruits, nuts and meats laid out and a bottle of white wine ready to pour. (Comment below if you want more deets about our delicious cheese plate!)
When it comes to food, presentation makes up half of the taste! The better something looks, the more likely I am to be drooling over it before it even hits my mouth. But sometimes, you need the right tools to create that gorgeous presentation, and we swear by this marble slab from Crate & Barrel (buy here) as well as this marble wine cooler (buy here). You're welcome.
And don't forget about the presentation points you can add just with a couple strokes of a pen! Get creative with how you want to label your cheeses for your guests. We went with little banners, but the options are endless.
Now to pull the dinner table all together.
Remember our Spanish and sunset inspirations? We decided to bring the blue hue in by way of this chambray linen tablecloth, and added vintage cream colored napkins for some warmth. The gold flatware brought the perfect amount of golden into our sunset dinner party.
The terracotta pots filled with cacti were the perfect match for our Spanish/Mexican inspiration, California hearts, and minimalist designs.
For outdoor dinner parties, soft lighting is everything. We wanted to let the sunset speak for itself. So we relied only on candlelight and a couple romantic chinese lanterns floating in the peripheral to light our space.
During dinner, the table can get hectic and over-crowded. (Especially if you are over at my house for dinner because I will surely make enough food for everyone to have "elevensies" and still leftovers for days.) To alleviate some of the pressure of fitting everything onto the dinner table, we always suggest having a "bar" table off to the side, where drinks can be made or extra dishes can be set down.
Also--cocktails in a pitcher can be a piece of art all on their own. (Especially if they are a rosé sangria... YES PLEASE. Comment below for the recipe! You won't be dissapointed.)
Serve your food in beautiful dishes that match your theme (like these colorful pinch-bowls below), or opt for classic stove-to-table cookware like these Le Creuset dutch ovens above.
Maybe it's obvious, but we love hosting. Nothing beats having your people in one place and coming together around the world's most universal language: the love of food. Summer is all about squeezing every last bit of sunlight out of the day as possible and we could celebrate that forever. The nights feel long, and the laughs feel endless. And the best part is knowing you created a space for that to happen.
So get up and get out and have a dinner party this weekend, this week, or next weekend! Hashtag your photos #wandwdinners so we can all share the creative energy and see what you are cooking up. We can't wait to see what your summer dinner parties look like!
Maybe we'll see you at the table next time!
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(P.S.S. We have the best dinner party guests. Special thank to our dear friend, Mia Lile, who happens to be an incredible industry photographer--read: omg you will want her for your engagement shoot or wedding--and took all these lovely photos for us. Check out her website here. Having other creatives as your best friends makes life just too much fun.)