Pick your space.
I try to spend as much time outside as possible during the summer, and any shady spot can be turned into a special space with a few blankets and some pillows! Sitting in the grass on a beautiful evening makes me feel like a kid and gets me out of my normal routine. A Bluetooth speaker with a fun playlist sets the mood, and I try to make sure each guest has a beverage and a snack as soon as they arrive.
Use what you have.
Nobody wants to spend hours in a hot kitchen during summer, so simplify by using what you already have in your fridge and cupboards. Some nutty crackers, tasty cheeses, sliced fresh fruit and scones combine for a great afternoon snack, and you can keep bringing out more “courses” as you go. Bonus if you have some fresh veggies from the garden or the farmer’s market. There is nothing quite like eating a tomato fresh from the vine.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved collecting beautiful little objects—and parties are the perfect time to put them to use. Decorate with small dishes and crystal bowls, local artwork, thrift shop finds and family treasures. I never worry about matching dishes or glassware; it’s more fun to have a mixture—especially if each piece has a story!
There’s no wrong way to decorate with flowers.
Use potted plants, bud vases, succulents and scattered blossoms to complete your decor. Marigolds, echinacea and sprigs of lavender all hold up really well on hot days, and in a pinch, I’ve been known to grab some random branches from a tree or bush to add a bit more greenery. Don’t be afraid to get creative. It’s summer, and there are no rules.
Bouquets don’t have to be fancy—or expensive.
Minnesota has so many beautiful native plants that bloom from spring until fall. I often grab a handful of wildflowers on my bike ride home in the evening. This year my zinnias were VERY successful, so I’ve taken plenty of those and added a few other blooms and green plants from the yard. Don’t overlook bunches of herbs. They make great bouquets and add fragrance to the table. Don’t worry if you don’t have vases. Mason jars, juice cups and a tall water glass will do fine.