willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Setting the Summer Table

As we all know, the summer season is like no other. The days seem longer, more relaxed. The schedules loosen up a bit and many head to the roads, the skies and the water to spend some time “getting away.” The gatherings seem more plentiful and sometimes very impromptu. Whatever way they may come about, food is almost always involved with the abundance of fresh produce and the longer days of light.

Hmmm… fresh produce, good food and a gathering gives us all ample opportunities to dress up a table for these summer occasions. I am going to tell you a little secret that might not be such a secret … I LOVE to dress up any table so in this post, I’m going to share some of my favorite ways to do so.

Before I start, I ask myself the following questions and I encourage you to do the same:

1. Where will I be holding this celebration? Indoors or out? In a covered area or in the open air?

2. What tables and chairs am I using, and where am I serving food from? Wherever it may be held, I consider what the seating will look like and how easily people can navigate from the food to the seating areas.

3. How many people will be attending?

4. What type of meal will I be serving? Will it be a serve yourself buffet, a cookout or a seated served meal?

Based on the answers to those questions I then need to select the following:

  • Tables and chairs ~ Do we have enough at the location I have chosen and if not, where am I getting the rest from?

  • Dish Ware ~ Am I using all disposables or a mixture of disposables and dishes?

  • Color Palette ~ I typically choose this by either considering the celebration or by taking a quick perusal of the garden or fresh florals at a local store. Are there pink peonies in the garden or yellow sunflowers? Don’t ignore the vegetables in either of those places as well for they can make for some show stopping table decor.

When we think of setting a summer table for a gathering we often think of doing whatever is easiest, as we should. Summer is all about doing things a little more carefree, as we have the option of throwing a blanket out on the lawn and enjoying a celebration and meal right out under the summer sky… day or night!  We have a blog post coming later this month that highlights that kind of gathering, but doing the easiest thing might not always be what you think it is and you don’t need to sacrifice style and beautiful settings by doing so.

By no means is there anything wrong with a white paper plate chock full of a juicy burger or dog, mom’s fan favorite potato salad recipe and a fresh ear of summer corn. Nothing at all! It’s just that there might be moments when you want to change things up a bit, celebrate a little differently, try new recipes and utilize some of the beautiful china, linen napkins or silver that is collecting dust in your china cabinet. After all, does it really take a whole lot more effort to put out china plates and silverware in lieu of plastic disposables and paper throw aways? Or might you look for some environmentally friendly options that can either be composted or break down more easily?

Whatever you decide – paper disposables or china, melamine or bamboo, recycled compostable plates or enamelware – keep in mind the color palette and what you plan on setting the rest of the table with.

Don’t you just love these pocket silverware pouches from Cutlery Couture that we offer on our website and always carry in our barn?

  • Table Decor ~ It is the little touches that add up to a unique table scape. I like to use items in creative ways such as using these little vintage inspired seed packets as seating cards with the celebration details written on each one.

Think outside the box by using lemons and limes, (or other vegetables) made to stand upright by slicing them evenly on the bottom as your place card holders. Insert a little bamboo stick into each one with a little flag made out of paper upon which the guest’s name can be written.

One of my absolute favorite elements to use in a table scape is our Hester and Cook paper accessories that we carry online and in the barn. Angie Cook, their designer and founder, has the most beautiful designs and they suit every occasion! How cute are these turnip place card markers at each place setting?

And check out these cabbage paper placemats which are so realistic looking. On a table dressed with these placemats, can’t you imagine using real cabbage heads whose centers you scoop out as serving “bowls” for your salad, or dip bowls for crudite and crackers?

Whether you are doing a full sit down celebration or a more casual one, it really is all about the food. And the food can actually be used as part of the presentation at your table, be it an artfully arranged charcuterie tray where texture and color are considered when arranging the food…

or a dessert-laden table where the colors and textures of the food intermingle with one another to create a beautiful effect.

Beautiful vintage linens, a wicker serving tray, some fresh flowers and pretty plates are all you need to make these desserts pop.

Not only are the textures of the food you serve important in how you present them but the textures that you add to your table scape are equally as important. Texture can be achieved using willow trays with a plate tucked inside to break up the smoothness of using all glass serving pieces.

Or add texture to your table by stacking your linens in a willow tray as well. We love these blue linen pin-striped napkins!

Glass is another element that I love to use in a setting a table with beauty. Whether you use colored beverages in store bought beautiful bottles ….

or pop some blooms into vintage glass soda bottles…

don’t discount the power of pretty glass when it comes to entertaining and setting a table!

There are so many ways to gather together over the summer season. Whatever works for you is the best way to move forward this season. I hope that with a little extra thought and thinking outside the box when it comes to entertaining and setting your summer table that you will actually find delight in the preparation. Sometimes I love the moments before the actual gathering as much as the gathering itself, when I can create and get into my head and bring what is up there… out onto the table.


In celebration of the Summer table~

xo Meg



share to:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.