outdoor gathering tablescape & tips

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summertime feels even though it’s not the “official” start to summer.  Outdoor gatherings and entertaining will hopefully be back to some type of normalcy this year. Today we are sharing some tips and techniques to help with an outdoor gathering tablescape & tips.

Entertaining outside, merely by just being outside, immediately makes the gathering more relaxed and informal than an indoor affair.   This translates into refreshing choices for tabletop, decor, menu options and more.

flowers for outdoor gatherings

Being outside we are surrounded by flora & fauna and it’s only fitting to include some pretty flowers and/or plants in our tablescapes.  Instead of perfectly coiffed  floral arrangements though, a bunch of pretty blooms plopped inside a zinc bucket is perfectly acceptable.  Use an outdoor planter with some lavender or any casual outdoor container with freshly clipped herbs to immediately set the relaxed tone.  

These peonies from Trader Joes are giving me all the late Spring-early Summer feels.  They are beautiful and are lasting f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  I hope to add peonies to our garden design in the front yard so be on the look out for that.

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decor for outdoor gatherings

You can also incorporate other summertime decor like sea shells or nautical touches or garden accents or cute outdoor critters themes like bees, dragonflies or ladybugs, etc.  Use whatever speaks summer to you or makes sense for your climate and region.  The beach always speaks summer to me so I tend to pull out sea shells and other sea form.  If sea shells and the like are your jam you might also enjoy these posts {seashell summertime decor} and {seashell decor transition}.

tabletop for outdoor gatherings

To compliment the relaxed vibe I also like to use outdoor friendly tabletop items.  On this table I chose galvanized chargers and enamel dishes with wooden accents.  I absolutely love enamelware!  Remember this post{metals III – enamelware}.  The green dishes were a recent find while thrifting.  And my love for enamelware is closely followed by my love for galvanized pieces {metals IV – galvanized}.

Other good options for outdoor tabletop pieces are rattan, wicker, bamboo, slate, acrylic and I am sure there are more but this is all that comes to mind right now.  

And although I love all the galvanized and enamel feels they are all hard, cold surfaces. Some fabric texture helps bring balance with softness, comfort and warmth.  Cotton linen napkins with a simple knot instead of a fancy fold or napkin ring add casualness but are still pretty and a little bit refined.

Also depending on where you live, once the sun sets it might get a bit chilly so I always include throws and blankets to add to that softness and warmth.  I remember when we first moved out to California I was always amazed that hot summer nights did not exist the way they did back on the East coast.  Some pretty throws are the instant solution.

twinkle lights for outdoor gatherings

Of course nothing creates immediate ambience more than lights, whether indoors or outdoors.  Candle light sprinkled on the table like in these sea shells adds ambiance here but you can use votives or pillars or tapers.  The shape or size doesn’t really matter since it’s the flicker of that wick that is everything and causes the emotion.

Twinkle lights always create a beautiful setting too whether strung on your home or on trees or anywhere really.  I have manzanita branches in a vintage olive bucket strung with lights in the corner of the patio that always add a festive background.

Lanterns are also great whether solar or battery operated. Real candles can be added around any outdoor setting to add even more ambience.  You can also create your own lanterns with glass jars or vases.  The possibilities are endless and the more creative you are the more it adds another layer of specialness to mingling outdoors.

I hope this outdoor gathering tablescape and tips provides some inspiration for warm weather minging and entertaining;.

“Mingle often with good people to keep your soul nourished.”

Anthony Douglas


  1. Your table is so pretty! Love white peonies and those cute seashells to use for votives.

  2. Thanks Kim! Yes the sea shell votives are always a big hit. I am ready for all thing summer! XO- MJ

  3. What a gorgeous summer table, MJ! I am so jealous of those peonies. Trader Joe’s is a bit far away so I don’t get there much and miss a lot of the goodies! Sigh. Glad you got the flowers! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen

  4. Thanks so much Kathleen. That’s a shame TJs is so far from you. It is literally less than 5 minutes from me- so I will feel fortunate about that. Thanks for the visit. XO- MJ

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