Hi! It’s Emma and I’m excited to be back on the blog. You might remember me from this post all about how to decorate for Valentine’s Day, & how to spice it up after dark. Check it out for my full intro & my whole background in the event space.
If you missed it, let me re-introduce myself. I’m the owner of The Emma Edit, a full-service event production and design firm located in Los Angeles. Today I’m here to give guys my tips on how to host a breezy summer soirée.
One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to have a few of my girlfriends over for dinner. Everyone knows how to host a girl’s night but I’m going to give you some easy additions to kick your evening up a notch.
Let’s get into it.
How To Host A Summer Soirée
First, let’s talk about personal style. This is something that’s developed for me over the years and continues to evolve on the daily. My sun, moon, and rising sign all are in the Earth element so I find a lot of my inspiration from nature.
My father was a science teacher growing up and I’ve had a rock collection since I was a little girl that we started together. In fact, my love for collecting rocks, crystals, and exotic stones continues today.
My event designs are commonly inspired by the things I come across when spending time outside. I find incorporating earthy elements like ceramic urns, wooden bowls, and raw materials into my design translates so beautifully.
I like sourcing items that look unfinished and imperfect. And certainly, things that radiate a living essence. Lately, that’s been an obsession with moss which I’m tucking into every nook and cranny found on a table scape.
It’s so textural, vibrant, and full of life.
Your home should be somewhere where your personal style and your story collide. For me, that means guests walk into a space that evokes a peaceful spirit full of natural light and crisp air with various pockets of blooming plants and fresh flowers. Very grounded energy comes from raw and refined pieces full of texture and color. Details like candles, incense, and a great playlist support movement and provide soul.
I encourage you to think about what you want to come across when guests walk into your home! And to find unique ways to incorporate your personal style into hosting an event.
The secret to making guests feel comfortable is when the space truly feels like an extension of the host.
One of my favorite hosting hacks is to prepare for your guest’s arrival before you personally get ready.
You don’t want to find yourself hair and make-up ready but struggling to ice the drinks, set the table, prepare the food, and light the candles as your guests walk in.
Make sure you position yourself where drinks are on ice, the table is set, food is prepared, and candles are lit before your guests arrive. This will ensure no one walks in and immediately feels inclined to ask if you need any help.
Creating an ‘outdoor room’ for a summer party is one of my favorite things to do. Find a space outdoors to clear out what is typically a sitting area year-round and move your informal dining table outside.
I always keep an eye out at thrift shops, flea markets and estate sales for cost-efficient outdoor tables, side tables, area rugs, table ware, etc. The table I used here typically serves as a desk inside, get creative!
If you’re a city dweller, with little to no outdoor space, no worries! Incorporating some house plants not only promotes clean energy but will make your space feel much more like summertime.
If you are hosting outside, always be forward-thinking about the weather.
If you’re anywhere on the planet currently, you know that means it’s going to be hot. I ordered these precious paper fans to set at each place setting and they ended up making the entire tablescape come together. If you’re located somewhere with lots of insects, make sure you have citronella candles on hand.
Some fun tips for jazzing up your table:
They are making a big comeback in the event world. You can find so many unique options and the functionality speaks for itself by keeping your table nice and clean.
A table isn’t set for me without fresh flowers. I went to the wholesaler’s flower market (every city typically has one) and grabbed a few bunches of baby’s breath and white cosmos the Sunday before having friends over. I was a floral designer for three years before moving to LA. So for me, this is an exciting DIY.
I set a floral frog at the base of little ceramic vases (fun fact they’re actually tea cups) and then made a grid across the top with floral tape. I place the baby’s breath into the grid until I have a good base. And after, pop in the white cosmos one at a time. I like to keep the stems of the cosmos long, so they look unruly. Don’t forget to make a couple of extra arrangements to place in the restroom and wherever you greet guests with a welcome drink.
My favorite tip for creating a multi-dimensional tablescape is to incorporate unique, exotic foods. I ran to the farmer’s market a few days before and picked out things that grabbed my attention. I fell in love with these green patty-pan squash, striped Pepino melons, and purple dragon tongue beans. And I knew heading to the farmers market that I wanted to play on the green tones found outside and use lilac as an accent color, so these were perfect.
A taper candle never disappoints. They are so romantic as they melt and come in a million different colors. I decided to keep things light and airy for this tablescape so I went for hues of taupe, and off-white. Get creative with your taper candle holders here too.
♡ Place Cards
Nothing is as personal as a hand-made place card. Paper Source always has a variety of colors to choose from for about five bucks and instead of writing a name only – try to draw a name framing design of sorts. Place cards take the pressure off guests to sit somewhere specific and everyone always likes to take them home.
For smaller events, I always set my table starting with the place settings. Placemats, china, stemware, and flatware go down first. Then I can spatially see where I have room for florals.
I place my taper candles in clusters of odd numbers surrounding the flowers and decorate the base with my squash, melons, and beans. The final touches are always tucking moss here and there and sprinkling handfuls of delicate or dried flowers across the table.
I recommend preparing the food, setting the table, and designing the florals the day before the event. Store the florals in a cool room that can get fresh air overnight and set out the day of.
Just before guests arrive, fill each water glass halfway and set a carafe of fresh water on the table. For a casual event, one of my favorite things to do is use an all-purpose stemless wine glass for water and use a water glass for cocktails. I recommend stemless glassware for a summer event.
Light your candles and turn on a playlist. Music is a must! It sets the tempo and is the backbone of the energy.
*Alexa play Althea by Grateful Dead*
I love to host a little cocktail hour as everyone’s arriving.
It’s nice to greet guests at the door and show them to an intimate area separate from the dinner table where you can enjoy catching up and sipping a welcome drink together.
If you’re introducing anyone new, a great ice breaker is to have everyone read the same book a few weeks before getting together and chat about it during this chummy time.
It’s always fun to serve your welcome drink in separate glassware than what you’re serving at the table. This can be something festive that ties into your dinner tablescape.
I was going for a raw but elevated look by incorporating lots of ceramics and frosted sea glass on the dinner table, so these ceramic glasses were perfect for a spicy margarita with a half rim of tajin.
Typically, in the same area you have welcome drinks is where I will set out a favor for my friends to take as they leave. I always like a little something to hand out as a parting gift.
A quick and easy idea is to grab a few organza bags and fill them with lavender and some palo santo. Not only can your friends use the palo santo at home, but they can also place the bag of lavender in an intimate drawer or around the house to naturally scent their space.
After the welcome drinks are flowing, bring out a starter.
This should be something handheld, no knife required but also satiating. You can’t go wrong with some bruschetta.
I served mine here with a base of whipped feta, sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and a balsamic glaze.
So quick to prepare and always a crowd pleaser.
After a half hour or so, show everyone to the dinner table. As they get settled you can go grab dinner from the kitchen. Make it easy on yourself and have everything pre-plated on serving dishes or in the warming drawer before anyone arrives.
If you’re hosting close friends, you will typically know their dietary restrictions but it’s always nice to ask. Family style is my favorite for nights like this with an intimate group.
For summer you want to keep your menu nice and light.
A heavy meal is uncomfortable in the heat and won’t age well sitting on the table.
I made a gorgeous melon salad with mozzarella marbles, shaved prosciutto, and cantaloupe. And also brought out a delicious homemade pesto to the table which can be placed alongside any protein.
Not to forget my favorite summer dessert – berries and cream.
Your menu for the evening should be an extension of your tablescape. Think about foods that will look beautiful next to your florals and decor.
An easy way to achieve this is by selecting one region to celebrate. White wine and pasta would look beautiful with heirloom tomatoes and potted basil scattered across the table. And fish tacos and margaritas would be perfect for a table filled with dahlias and chili peppers.
I always keep extra-virgin olive oil on the table for guests to drizzle over dinner. This is the intended way to consume olive oil as it keeps all the health benefits found within preserved, as opposed to using it while cooking against high heat.
As dinner is winding down, ask guests if they would like any coffee or hot tea. I love these petite ceramic teacups to serve either in.
With a group of close friends, you’ll most likely be swept away in conversation, but a fun tip is to have an activity nearby. My friends and I are suckers for Scrabble and have never met a Polaroid we don’t like.
That about wraps it up!
I hope you enjoyed these hosting tips for a summertime soirée and if you find yourself taking any of my advice, make sure to tag me on Instagram @themmaedit. I love connecting with people and seeing what you all dream up.
If you want to work with me for your next event or design project, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florals & Design: Emma Baker
Photography: Mariposa Pictures by Beth Hawkes
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