12 Summer Table Essentials for Your Next Alfresco Event

Set your table for sunny days and fancy soirees with our favorite summer serveware and decor essentials.

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May 18, 2022

Summer calls for gathering around the patio table with fresh food, spirited sips and the company of all your favorite people. Summer also calls for strategic tablescape planning to ensure your loved ones remain happy despite the mosquito situation and alarmingly high humidity levels. Not sure where to begin to set your table for summer? Not to fret. We’re sharing our top tips and go-to products to get you geared up for all the outdoor dinner parties and backyard barbecues. Below, shop our water-wicking table decor, acrylic barware and shatterproof melamine serveware to get you through outdoor hosting without breaking a sweat.

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From $59

Create ambiance for your alfresco dinner party by dangling classic bistro string lights above your outdoor dining table. This French-inspired string light set features glass globe bulbs and comes in your choice of three cord colors: black, white or forest green. The lights are available individually in two lengths or sold as a set with standing or table posts to suit your entertaining needs.

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Lay the groundwork for a gorgeous, designer-worthy summer tablescape by selecting an outdoor tablecloth with punchy prints and a kicky colorway. We’re smitten with the summery blue-and-white Puebla tablecloth from Pottery Barn; the cotton oilcloth stands up to spills and harsh sun rays while creating an elevated base for simple melamine and paper serveware alike.

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Keep your dinner party going long after dishing dessert with this TerraFlame Tabletop Fire Bowl. The contemporary-style fire feature serves as a natural table centerpiece for any summer soiree; it burns up to three hours and produces a 7-inch flame that casts guests in a warm, inviting glow throughout the evening. The fire bowl comes in natural sand or antique white finish; natural smooth Mexican beach pebbles add texture to the vessel.

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$69 (Set of 4)

Never underestimate the impact of pretty placemats on your outdoor dining table. Placemats work overtime to protect your table and dress up modest serveware to ensure elevated results. Plus, mats are available in all colors and materials imaginable and come in styles ranging from polished to playful to suit all occasions. This fringed four-pack from Mark & Graham is our pick for summer; the sun-bleached raffia is outdoor friendly and invites coastal appeal to any table.

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From $39 (Set of 6)

We've accrued an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence that suggests that seasonal cocktails do, in fact, taste better when enjoyed from chic tumblers, goblets and cups. Snag one of these shatterproof acrylic drinkware sets from Food52 to put our theory to the test. The sets come clear or in a soft sage finish and feature trendy, fluted silhouettes perfect for summer. Snag a six-piece set of short tumblers, tall tumblers or goblets.

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Keep a well-stocked beverage tub within reach of your summer table to keep guests happy and hydrated throughout the event. This top-rated hammered aluminum tub from Crate & Barrel is our pick. The silver tub features a roomy interior to hold ice and bottles aplenty, plus two cut-out handles for effortless toting from the kitchen to the table. And if silver is not your favorite finish, snag the same five-star design in copper, gold or graphite to suit your existing summer serveware.

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Showcase your big batch cocktail mix at the end of your summer table with a streamlined drink dispenser. The Beau dispenser invites guests to help themselves to round two (or three) with a gleaming glass vessel, a stainless steel spigot and a handcrafted mango wood stand. Pro tip: Choose a cocktail recipe featuring fruit, herbs and other mixings in colors that coordinate with your event decorations for a cohesive look.

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Keep ice on hand with a tabletop ice bucket. This fluted acrylic ice bucket is budget-friendly and break-resistant, making it a perfect fixture for your outdoor summer table. Even better? The ice bucket comes with an airtight lid to trap the cold between use and a sleek pair of tongs to serve cubes like a pro.

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$79 (Set of 3)

Who says you need to pull out your precious porcelain to enjoy a fine dining experience? The Alice melamine serving platter set offers the elegance of its high-end (highly breakable) counterparts while simultaneously being shatterproof and dishwasher-safe. The three-platter bundle varies in size for versatility and features a traditional sage and powder-blue garden motif well-suited for backyard luncheons and beachy dinners.

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$110 (Set of 12)

We would be remiss not to include this summer table mainstay in our round-up. Melamine dinnerware sets are the backbone of every backyard barbecue, pool party and playdate between May and September. The shatterproof, dishwasher-safe material takes the stress out of serving guests and you can find a set in every size and style under the sun. The Mason Modern 12-piece melamine dinnerware set is our favorite because each bundle includes everything you need to host: four dinner plates, four salad plates and four bowls. Snag the streamlined design in the steel-blue hue pictured here to add a pop of color to your airy summer table or grab the white, ivory or charcoal colorstory for a classic look.

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$28

Cover your summer spread in style with this sleek collapsible food tent. The handmade woven food tent plays bouncer at the table, keeping flies and other pesky insects out of your party food so your guests can eat confidently when the time comes.

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The only centerpiece we love more than fresh-cut blooms is one comprised of fresh-grilled steak and all the festive fixings to make tacos, burgers and more. Enter: The barbecue serving board set from Mark & Graham. The oversized acacia wood board makes a crowd-pleasing focal point for any party with three ceramic ramekins for condiments or snacks, a ridged serving side for vegetables and an optional personalization with your choice of 55 engravement designs.

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