How to Host a Chic Summer Soirée

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It’s no secret that Team SN is comprised of some serious fans of the summer season. And from lazy beach days to floaty floral dresses, there’s lots of love, but perhaps one of our favorite things about the season is, of course, the parties. We love attending them, but there’s something extra special about playing hostess. Whether you’re a consummate hostess or looking for inspiration for your first-ever al fresco dinner party, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our rules (and top product picks) for hosting the perfect summer soirée.

Image via The Last Line

Image via @caraway_home

Rule #1: It all starts in the kitchen. 

We know, we know. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and envision all of the gorgeous table linens and glassware you’ll purchase for a party-perfect tablescape (and don’t worry, we’ll get to that). But hosting a dinner party without a menu is not the way to go. And one of the best ways to get motivated to menu plan is by stocking your kitchen with the best cookware you can find. Our personal favorite brand is Caraway Home, a nontoxic cookware line that’s not only wonderfully functional but also available in a rainbow of Instagram-ready hues. Splurge on their cookware set ($395) in Perracota if you’re ready to give your kitchen a cheerful upgrade. If that’s not in your budget, save on an equally colorful 17-piece set from Greenpan. We promise you’ll find yourself cooking more.

Caraway Home Cookware Set Perracotta

caraway home

Cookware Set

GreenPan™ Rio Ceramic Nonstick 17-Piece Cookware Set in Blush


Ceramic Nonstick 17-Piece Cookware Set in Blush

Image via Anthropologie

Rule #2: Don’t underestimate the importance of good dinnerware. 

When it comes to dinner party dinnerware, it’s important to strike a balance between beautiful and durable. You don’t want to be too precious–there’s nothing worse than a guest that’s worried about breaking something in your home. That’s why we love Year & Day, a brand dedicated to creating dinnerware that’s both beautiful and functional. Splurge on their core 16-piece set ($240)--which will keep your table (and, let’s be honest, your food Instagrams) looking fabulous whether you’re hosting or not. If you want to play it extra safe, but still celebrate in style, melamine is a perfect, difficult-to-break dinnerware material. Anthropologie’s poppy bamboo melamine plate set is chic enough to break out when you’ve got friends over, but it also happens to be a kid-friendly pick. And, at just $24.95, it’s the ultimate save.

The Core Set

Year and Day

The Core Set

Poppy Bamboo Melamine Dinner Plates


Poppy Bamboo Melamine Dinner Plates

Image via @vietriinc

Rule #3: Go All Out on Glassware

A pale glass of summer rosé is gorgeous enough on its own. But pouring it into one of Vietri’s rainbow wine glasses really takes things to the next level. At $15 per glass, a set of six comes in at under $100–and, given their fantastic quality, this is a serious save. If you’re looking to indulge, the spiral stemmed glasses from Moda Domus are certainly a splurge at $135 each, but an absolutely beautiful (and worthy) one.

VIETRI Rainbow Wine Glass


Rainbow Wine Glass

Moda Domus Spiral Stemmed Glass

Moda Domus

Spiral Stemmed Glass

Image via The Last Line

Rule #4: The Table Sets the Tone 

A funky tablescape is the ultimate conversation starter–and, since most table linens are machine washable–it’s a statement piece that happens to be very easy to care for. If you’re looking to save on your tablecloth, Hill House Home’s beautiful botanical range comes in at just $95, and the matching placemats and napkins are just $75 each, a bargain for linens of this quality. When we’re dressing our table to (majorly) impress, we always opt for The Last Line. The $198 for a set, the Zodiac Napkins are a splurge, but also the ultimate conversation starter. Pick up a set for each summer zodiac season (Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and Virgo), and swap out accordingly based on your party’s date. Pair with the matching placemats ($365), and the star linen tablecloth($195) for the ultimate starry night.  

Image via @rosannafalconer

Rule #5: Thoughtful Touches Never Hurt

Before we leave you to host, consider a few more thoughtful touches from our favorite hostesses. 

Menu Mementos:  British hostess extraordinaire Rosanna Falconer, known for her tablescapes, always provides a handwritten menu, for guests to stow as a keepsake (and even frame, if the dinner is that epic). On that note, personalized place cards are a go-to for avoiding any awkward conversations or feelings of exclusion when the time comes to sit for dinner. 

Common Scents: You may have heard of the phenomenon of scenting a wedding, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t extend to your dinner party, too. With that said, we never recommend scenting the area where you’re eating, because the delicious aromas of your food wafting through the air should be the star of the show, but there’s something to be said for a lightly perfumed appetizer area. We recommend a summer-forward orange blossom scent (our favorite comes from French brand Lola James Harper) or a fresh aroma that calls clean linens to mind, like Apothia’s famous BRONZED scent.  

Think before you bloom: We love a gorgeous floral tablescape as much as the next person. But there’s really nothing more awkward than straining to make conversation with a vision-blocking vase in your way. If you’re putting flowers on your table, opt for single blooms in small bud vases. Flowers should be an accent on the table, not the star of the show.