How to Plan the Perfect Summer Dinner Party Tablescape

Looking for some fun summer dinner party ideas? Look no further, as I share my own tips for setting the perfect summer table starting with planning the table decor.

summer dinner party ideas for the table

Dinner parties shouldn’t be a source of stress! I have a few simple tips that will make setting a stylish summer table easy and affordable! I may have taken a few too many photos, but I really hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Joining me today with their own summer celebration dinner table decor are 16 lovely ladies who always provide some beautiful ideas for summer celebrations! If you have just popped over from Life and Linda, welcome!

I was really excited about planning this summer celebration tablescape. When Rita from Panoply reached out about sharing summer celebration table ideas, I jumped at the chance. We could choose to share a patriotic tablescape or just style a table that represents the summer season.

summer celebration tables cape with blue and white dishes and watermelon

I will be sharing a new patriotic tablescape later this month. Today I wanted to style a table the celebrates the summer season.

It was a photo I had saved on Instagram that would become my inspiration!

So that brings me to the first of 6 simple tips to help you style your summer table…

Summer Dinner Party Ideas

Tip # 1 – Finding your Table Decor Inspiration

If you aren’t using the Instagram save feature, be sure to start now! You can organize your saves under different headings to make them easy to find when you want to refer back to them. And, don’t just save photos of tablescapes you love, but any photos that light a spark in your imagination.

Summer tables cape

The photo that I had saved is from one of my favourite photographers on Instagram, Christina Greve. A flat lay scene of a random plate and slice of watermelon, with a few other “props” in the photo. But, I was really drawn to the pattern on the plate paired with the watermelon slice.

This became my jumping off point for my table decor.

Tip # 2 – Keeping Costs Down

I hate to sound like a broken record, but SHOP YOUR HOME before you buy anything for your table.

There will likely be times where you have a specific theme in mind. Or maybe you have an idea that requires you make purchases to complete your vision. But, I can’t stress enough to always shop your house first.

I did need to purchase the plates for this table, but truth be told, I would have purchased them anyway. I adore the pattern and they were such a low cost, and I will use them everyday, they were worth the expense.

Blue and white dishes on a round rattan placement

Tip # 3 – Turn Fancy into Casual

One my favourite summer dinner party ideas is to pair fancy with not-so-fancy! You will notice that the pattern on these plates lend themselves to a fancy or formal dinner party.

But, I deliberately left the tabletop undressed. No table cloth or fabric table runner. I simply used a very un-fancy, but very summery rattan place mat under each plate giving them a more casual vibe.

I used simple white cotton napkins with a red stripe pattern throughout. This further gives the table a casual summery ambience. Almost picnic like!

Leaving a touch of tarnish on my good silver is the perfect balance of fancy-casual.

summer dinner party ideas for a casual outdoor dinner

Tip # 4 – No cost summer dinner party decor

Save those unique jars and bottles!

Don’t go overboard and hoard every glass jar that you find, but have a good look at them before they hit the recycling bin!

clear glass jars make perfect vases

How cute are these glass gin and whisky bottles from a local distillery. I love the shape and simplicity of them. Bonne Mamon jam jars make perfect little flower vases. And their jam is so good too!

Glass yogurt containers serve as tealight holders. Admittedly I do kind of hoard those yogurt jars (I lost count at 20!). You can never have enough candles on the table!

glass yogurt jars make nice tea light holders for outdoor summer parties

Tip # 5 – Free Flowers for the table

Shop your garden (or maybe a neighbors garden with permission) to source flowers and greenery for the table. Summer is the highlight of garden season and there is a shortage of gorgeous blooms!

I used peonies from both my own garden and a neighbours, roses from my brother’s garden, Delphinium and a few other flowers that have just come into bloom in garden.

summer garden flowers in a white jug

I also used a random vine that started growing along our fence as a table runner! My husband was about to pull it all out when I stopped him and clipped a length for the table.

If you don’t have a garden, consider taking a walk along a nature trail and see what is available to clip. I’m not going to lie, I think there may be an unidentified flower I suspect is a weed in my arrangements! Otherwise, pick up a few bunches of flowers at the market and check out my easy tutorial how to arrange grocery store flowers!

wild garden vine used as a table runner

Tip # 6 – Summer dinner party menu shortcuts

When planning the menu for your summer party you want to make sure not to overburden yourself! I often will visit the deli table at the grocery store and pick up fresh olives, some nuts and cheese, and throw together a quick appetizer plate.

Pick the part of the meal that stresses you the least and concentrate on making that homemade, while choosing simpler options for the other food elements!

I had actually planned to make strawberry shortcake this week, but the temperatures sored and the last thing I wanted to do was turn on my oven! Instead I purchased some individual rolled cakes, cut them in half and topped them with fresh whipped cream and blueberries!

Rolled cake topped with whipped cream is a great summer dinner party idea

Following these simple summer dinner party ideas and make celebrating the season a breeze. Even on the hottest of summer days!

A few more photos that capture our first celebration of the summer!

A brightly coloured summer table with fresh garden flowers

Since my mom passed two years ago, my brother still lives in the family home and I am so proud of how he is tending her gardens! He was pretty proud that her roses are producing an abundance of blooms this year.

Garden flower centrepiece for a summer tables cape

Can you see why I was drawn to the combination of the blue and white plates and the slice of watermelon? The fancy plates really take on a casual feel topped with the green and pink slice!

Summer dinner party ideas starting with the table decor
Watermelon top blue and white dinner plates for an outdoor dinner party

I truly hope you have enjoyed the tour of my own alfresco table today, and maybe picked up a few tips to make your next dinner party easy and stress free!

Summer celebration tables cape

Next up is Sarah from Hyacinths for the Soul! But be sure to visit 16 over very talented table styling bloggers who are sharing their own summer tables today! You are in for a real treat!

17 Summer Dinner Party Ideas for Your Table Decor

Home is Where the Boat Is – Dockside Nautical Table Life and Linda – Mermaid Kisses and Starfish Wishes Red Cottage Chronicles – How to Plan the Perfect Summer Dinner Party Tablescape Hyacinths for the Soul – Summertime, and the Livins Easy! My Thrift Store Addiction – Lemons and Jadeite Summer Garden Tea for Two Bluesky at Home – Summer Blue and White Table for a Dinner Party Celebrate and Decorate – Nautical Tablescape for the Fourth of July Corner of Plaid and Paisley – Sweet Peach Summer Table My Hubbard Home – Cottagecore Citrus Tablescape Ideas for Summer Entertaining Belle Bleu Interiors – Welcoming Summer With an Outdoor Tablescape The Painted Apron – Shells on the Beach Living With Thanksgiving – Patriotic Table by the Pond Debbee’s Buzz – Fun Flamingo Tropical Table Everyday Living – A Welcome to Summer Zucchini Sisters – Lobster Table Setting for Two on the Dock The Little Yellow Corner Store – A Bold, Striking Summer Magnolia Tablescape Inspired by Nature Panoply – Summer Seaside Scenes Tablescape

And, if you want to see my inspiration photo by Christina Greve, click here! I highly recommend you give her a follow!

Until next time….


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  1. What wonderful tips to create a lovely dinner party! Your peonies are stunning! It is always a pleasure to “pull up a chair to your table!” Blessings, Cecilia @My Thrift Store Addiction

  2. I love your green leaf vine down the center of the table, so perfect for your outdoor garden setting! Lots of great tips and ideas for keeping things simple Maureen, thank you~ the blueberry shortcakes are brilliant and so easy! You have certainly captured summer with watermelon, flowers and pretty plates, such a lovely place to dine!

  3. Lovely tips for setting a summer table. Shopping your house is always a great idea. Love the blue and white plates with a slice of watermelon. The vine is lovely, especially with your pretty peonies. I love combing simple with elegant. Anything goes. Always a pleasure. to hop along with you happy summer.

  4. Maureen, your alfresco table is gorgeous! I would love to dine at this pretty setting. Your flowers are so beautiful paired with the sweet blue and white china. You have definitely given us some great tips for entertaining. Happy Summer!!!

  5. Your table is delightful! You have offered up so many perfect tips for a lovely AND easy, AND fun summer tablescape! Those plates are lovely, I can see why you selected them! I, too, love using some fancier things with some more casual things, and you combined those wonderfully!

  6. Maureen, your table pairing the elegant and simple touches is a great way to decorate. It’s a great combination for helping guest to feel relaxed. All of the tips are usefully including the Instagram one.
    Happy summer!

  7. Your table is a wonderful combination of elegant and casual!! I love your beautiful new plates! All of the home grown flowers and gathered glassware make a fabulous centerpiece!! Well done!! Wishing you a wonderful summer, Maureen!!☀️❤️

  8. Maureen, Nothing says summer like a slice of watermelon on your plate! I’m a fan of mixing casual with dressy too and I love the flowers you cut from your garden. The grapevine makes a wonderful, organic runner for your table kudos to you on your short-cut blueberry shortcake for an easy summer dessert! As always it’s a treat to join you at the table and hop with you. Happy Summer ♥

  9. Maureen, I love how you bring your no-nonsense, down-to-earth, smart style to the table, and this just proves it. Christine’s inspiration photo came to life and more with your creativity! I’ve always been one to love mixing high- and low-end style, and you’ve explored another facet – fancy and not-so-fancy, which I can totally get behind too. What a wonderfully colorful arrangement of flowers, fruits and table elements you’ve combined. This makes for a very happy summer table. Thanks for coming to the party!

  10. Maureen, you really outdid yourself with this beautiful tablescape. The flowers are stunning. I love the mix of shapes and colors. The blue plates are gorgeous. Your vine has the casual, natural look. Great tips for any tablescape.

  11. Maureen, I love your alfresco summer tablescape. Your flowers are gorgeous and the food so eye-catching. I would like a bite of cake right now.
    Thanks for your entertaining ideas. It is good to be reminded.
    You have intrigued me about organizing your IG saves. Did you google how to do that?
    You inspire.

    1. Thank you Bonnie! To categorizing your Instagram saves, simply hold down the little save widget below the photo and you will see a screen pop up that says “save to” with a + sign. Click the + sign to create new categories, and then when saving your next photo, again hold down the save widget and your categories will pop up and you can choose which one to save it to. Hopes that helps!

  12. Maureen, your summer alfresco table is both casual and elegant, and that is always a great combo. All of your tips are spot on for no stress-easy entertaining. The flowers are just beautiful and how wonderful that your mom’s roses are thriving. It is always a pleasure to hop with you…Happy Summer!

  13. Maureen, what a lovely and inviting summer table! I read with great interest your 6 tips. Lots of great advice and inspiration here. I’m going to start saving those yogurt glass jars. What a great idea to use them as votive candle holders! I’m thinking of putting aside 12 each for my son’s urban NYC and Philly indoor and outdoor entertaining — not to hard to store either.

  14. Hi Maureen, you certainly captured my attention with all of your helpful tips for summer. I love the casual, comfy look of your outdoor tablescape. You are correct, it is so much like a fun picnic. The plates are gorgeous and I love the combo of colors and flowers from various gardens, including that of your moms/brothers, and neighbors. Your easy, put-together dessert is ideal for a quick and carefree end of a meal and looks so pretty too. Such a beautiful reminder that a summer meal can be fun and worry free and very charming too.

  15. What a beautiful table Maureen! Just so charming and reminds me of Tuscany countryside when we dined outside at one of the vineyards.

  16. Beautiful setting with the blue plates and watermelon slices! Would you share where you purchased the blue/white plates? Thank you! Carolyn

    1. Hi Carolyn! I purchased mine at HomeSense here in Canada! I do know that you can buy them at Simply Beautiful Decor which is a local company that ships, however they are quite a bit more expensive!

  17. Maureen, your outdoor summer table setting is beautiful! I also shop my home before buying something new for a tablescape. You’ve shown that you don’t need to spend much money to design a lovely table. I love the natural beauty of the flowers from the garden arranged in simple glass jars. Those blue and white plates are timeless and really pop with the slice of watermelon at each place setting. It was fun to hop with you again. Happy Summer 🙂