Summertime table settings should be as relaxed and carefree as the season itself. The summer invites alfresco meals—from breakfasts on the porch to poolside cocktails and patio dinners. These great tips from Williams Sonoma will help you create stylish table settings for the entire season.
To simplify planning your settings, include pieces in your tableware collection that can serve more than one function. Earthenware pasta bowls are wonderful for pasta, risotto and polenta as well as for salads and gazpacho. Dipping bowls are another summertime staple for presenting fine olive oils, vinegars and condiments or savory nibbles like nuts and olives. In addition to holding beverages, wine and margarita glasses can double as serving vessels for fresh fruit salads, frosty sorbets and chilled seafood cocktails.
Table linens help set the mood for summer dining. Options can be as understated as a crisp, white cotton tablecloth and napkins or as exuberant as a colorful paisley, geometric or floral print. To create visual contrast, mix solids and patterns or combine linens of different textures, such as a quilted cotton tablecloth with wicker place mats.
Summer’s bountiful gardens inspire colorful table decorations. Floral arrangements are often casual and spontaneous, showcasing whatever is in bloom. Display a bouquet of just-picked flowers in a rustic earthenware pitcher, or use bud vases or tumblers to hold individual blossoms or newly cut herbs at each place setting.
For dining after sundown, illuminate table settings with candles in varying shapes and sizes—from tiny tea lights and votives to dramatic pillar and taper candles. To create a natural look, place candles in bowls of sand, seashells or river pebbles. Nautical-style table lanterns bring the feel of the seaside to your gatherings yet won’t extinguish in the breeze. For ambient outdoor lighting, group patio torches around your dining area.