Set the Perfect Summer Table

Three amazing tips to transform your table for a party.

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The Kitchen hosts Set the Perfect Summer Table with Kardea Brown, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Photo by: AJ Wilhelm Photography

AJ Wilhelm Photography

The first step in summer entertaining should always be to make sure your guests will be as comfortable as possible as they enjoy their meal outdoors. We recommend lots of cushioning; be sure to use outdoor pillows with synthetic fibers, which are made to wick away moisture in bad weather, and are also easy to wipe down when that inevitable glass of red wine takes a tumble. Setting colorful and cozy blankets on seats for when the sun goes down and the night gets a bit chilly is an extra-thoughtful touch.

Jeff Mauro helps Set the Perfect Summer Table with a new Patio Lighting Idea for your next outdoor party, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Photo by: AJ Wilhelm Photography

AJ Wilhelm Photography

Next up is lighting! When the hot summer sun finally sets, use solar-powered lanterns to brighten your nights. These LED lights charge up during the day using small solar panels. They also have clips so you can place them anywhere throughout the yard, like the edges of your patio table umbrella.

Sunny Anderson helps Set the Perfect Summer Table with a Patio Umbrella Centerpiece, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Photo by: AJ Wilhelm Photography

AJ Wilhelm Photography

Every perfect table needs a perfect centerpiece; but when you have a table umbrella, where is the centerpiece supposed to go? We've solved the problem and made a planter that wraps around your umbrella pole!

Take an old ring mold and drill holes into the bottom for drainage. If you don't have a drill, you can use a hammer and nail, and then remove the nail. Fill the bottom with potting soil. We planted succulents, which are very low-maintenance and don't need much water. Add plants around the ring and top with some more potting soil. Finally, cover the soil with river bed gravel, available at craft and home-improvement stores. This helps lock in the water in the soil.

For a finishing touch, add citronella tea lights in between the succulents. They are a great alternative to the big bulky candles, and they do a great job at keeping pesky bugs away from your food and guests, all while creating ambiance.

Geoffrey Zakarian makes a Garnish Garden for an Outdoor Bar Cart with Kardea Brown, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Photo by: AJ Wilhelm Photography

AJ Wilhelm Photography

The table is set, so why not treat your guests (and yourself) to an ice-cold drink? For easy outdoor entertaining, a bar cart takes the pressure off you, since guests can help themselves. A new way to add a fresh twist to the traditional cart is with fresh potted herbs. Your guests can snip their own herbs and add them to cocktails, water or non-alcoholic drinks like iced tea or lemonade. Mint, basil, and thyme are versatile and flavorful options for this "garnish garden".

The table is set, the yard is lit and the drink are being poured. Let the party begin!

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