As I continue on my summer mission with Skinny Cow ice cream to find my perfect WoCave (aka “woman cave”—or the place I feel my best), my second challenge was to create an outdoor spot to relax and visit with friends. (You can read about my first WoCave mission here.)
I love the thought of summer entertaining on our patio, but most of my friends have lots of busy kids like me, and it’s usually hard to plan far in advance. So, often, the best summer get-togethers are those that are casual, after kids’ bedtime hours, and easy to throw together at the last minute. I created this little impromptu girls’ night in less than half an hour.
Parties don’t have to be elaborate, expensive, or even Pinterest-worthy. Casual summer nights on the patio should be more about the company and less about the fuss. Here are a few tips for how to set up a simple outdoor spread for guests—even if you only have 30 minutes to pull it all together:
Bring the indoors out. For this set-up, I shopped my house and brought out the chalkboard that hangs in our hallway, orchids and a basket for texture. Using indoor accessories is a great way to quickly set up a cozy, living room feel under the stars. You might also use artwork, lamps, pillows from your sofa, or even a pair of favorite chairs. . .
Think outside of the box when it comes to displaying and serving. You don’t have to use any item for its intended purpose. Here, I used a ceramic planter instead of an ice bucket (to hold my favorite Skinny Cow treats) and blue mason jars instead of plastic cups.
Add color by shopping your fridge. Fruit is a colorful and inexpensive way to accessorize your party table.
Add pattern with a colorful table cloth. (I picked up this one on sale at IKEA and draped it over the indoor console table we use under the covered part of the patio during the summer months.) Fabric remnant bins are also a great place to shop for a yard or two of fun fabric to use this way.
Use outdoor lighting for a festive feel. Just a single strand of string lights makes it feel more like a party. I used these.
Capture the moment. In the age of digital everything, printed photos are a novelty. Skinny Cow sent me this Polaroid camera in my mission box, and it’s a fun way to remember the fun times and send guests home with photos in hand. (My kids are totally amazed by this new/old technology.)
Keep it simple. For casual girls’ nights, the less prep time, the better. I just laid out some favorite dessert treats and made my mom’s fruit tea. This is one of my favorite summer drinks that you can make ahead of time and keep in the fridge:
Stay tuned. I’ll be wrapping up the WoCave program with mission #3 in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a little look at what was in final surprise box and some of what I’ll be working with:
Thanks to Skinny Cow for sponsoring this post.