Easy Summer Tablescapes for Outdoor Entertaining


From birthdays to barbecues, summer is the season for backyard parties. Use our summer-infused decorating themes to make your next event a memorable one. With these ideas, you’ll find that it doesn’t cost much or take a lot of time to decorate for any occasion, but it does make a big impact. The only thing required to get started: a table!

Paris Vacation Dinner

Summer is a time for travel. Bid vacation-bound friends farewell with a dinner party in their honor, and center the theme around their destination. A group of friends are headed to Paris, so we created these lovely handmade placemats from scrapbooking card stock and added sepia ribbon on the seams to finish the look.

In keeping with the theme, we put fresh rosemary from the garden into rustic pots and used old glass bottles with vintage labels in place of water pitchers. Be creative with your theme—and don’t forget to incorporate the menu as well.


Fourth of July Celebration

Don’t Forget The Sparklers

There’s no better occasion for a cookout with friends and family than the Fourth of July. Celebrate with a red, white and blue color scheme.

Visit your local crafts store and raid your own storage for festive decorative items, from mini flags to red votives and mason jars. Blue glasses, white plates and red bandanas for napkins are all great basics for creating a patriotic table.

Keep kids entertained by having them make their own placemats. We picked up foam mats and some self-adhesive cutouts for an easy kids’ craft (shown above). For the rest of the table, we created our own no-sew placemats and napkins using easy-care outdoor fabric in classic navy Ticking Stripe


Lobster Bake

On the beach at Cape Cod or in your very own backyard you can create a fabulous lobster feast. The occasion calls for simple, rustic touches. Gather flowers from the yard and fill jars or glasses covered with white paper bags and tie with raffia or butcher’s string.

The paper lobsters on our table, found in the scrapbooking section of a craft store, are attached to red binding tape to form napkin rings. And the napkins themselves? White dish rags, which will surely come in handy!

A set of four coordinating dishtowels are used as placemats—we cut one side only and finished it using iron-on tape. Use our no-sew placemat instructions to create your own.


Father’s Day Dinner Party

Surprise dad with a feast—and a table setting that is a bit more masculine than usual. Use finds right from nature. A plain glass pitcher with some branches, pine cones and rocks add to the feel.

The black-and-cream striped placemats paired with printed napkins in the same color scheme keep things elegant as well as masculine. We chose our easy-care Canopy Stripe and Sinclair Damask fabrics for their washability.

An Evening with Friends

You don’t need a holiday or a special occasion to dine al fresco with friends. A brown, white and green color scheme creates a fresh, sophisticated approach to a dinner party tablescape.

Use cuttings from the garden, and add baskets or woven candlesticks for welcome texture. Creating your own no-sew placemats and napkins makes the table look expensive while only costing a few dollars. We chose Catana Floral for the placemats and Arden Chocolate for the napkins.

Intimate Back Yard Bridal Shower

This is truly a no-fuss tablescape. The feminine fuchsia color scheme adds a pop of color and sets the tone for a celebratory event. Beyond a simple centerpiece, no other decorating is required.

The no-sew placemats are made from a set of napkins bought at a home goods store. A set of 20 napkins can be made into 10 place settings. To give the setting a less formal outdoor look, we turned the placemats so they hang over the table.

Use one of our ideas or create your own unique tablescape this summer.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    June 14, 2011

    Wow…so simple and yet so elegant…LOVE IT!