4 Easy Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

From a paper lantern canopy to how to make grocery store flowers look chic, these affordable ideas are perfect for summertime soirées.

1. Layout Your Fine China

Grab some pretty porcelain pieces and bring them outdoors for a sophisticated alfresco tea party, suggests designer Rachel Ashwell. Stacking the plates makes for easy family-style dining with any number of guests. Plus, using what's already in your china cabinet, rather than paper plates, is good for both the wallet and the earth.

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2. Rethink Grocery Store Flowers

Buy a big bouquet of flowers from the grocery store and break it down into smaller arrangements. Then place large blooms into teacups and put out as table settings, like designer Joe Nye did. (Pick up vintage cups at a flea market, and your guests can even take them home as favors!)

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3. Crank Up the Color

Borrow an idea from Judi Roaman of the accessorator.com for sunny festive table settings. Use two brightly colored napkins, instead of just one, to created a layered look. She also suggests staying away from paper napkins, as they don't give the same effect.

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4. Hang Paper Lanterns

Illuminated or not, these inexpensive lanterns shake up a with a touch of whimsy. Mixing up the sizes and colors of the lanterns also adds to the carefree summertime style. There's no need to fuss with ladders to reach a tall tree branch to hang them from either! Mimic Todd Klein's design and hang the lanterns from skinny wooden posts held securely with sea glass or pebbles inside a glass vase.

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What are some ways you set your table in the summer?

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