Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

This week’s guest blogger is Shannon of Fox Hollow Cottage

Summer: a glorious season full of friends, family and fun. Oftentimes, during the long sunny days, impromptu gatherings come up. Be it a pool party or a BBQ, with a few key items on-hand, you can set a pretty table in a hurry, indoors or out.

1. Serving Trays

These hard working helpers are crucial for getting goods from the kitchen to the entertaining area, en masse. Enlist a few trays and a few helpers and you’ll be done in a jiffy. Woven trays, metal and melamine are perfect for indoors and outside. There are so many fun options available, in a variety of shapes. Whether galvanized or painted wood, there is something for every taste. I think I’ve got a few of everything. I love them for decorating and entertaining.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

2. Paper Straws

I keep several of these in multiple colors in my kitchen. They just scream “fun  and festive!” From soda to sweet tea, it just tastes better when sipped through one of these cuties!


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

3. Paper Goods

HomeGoods has become my go-to for really fun patterns and prints. I always find something unexpected. Last Christmas I set our breakfast table with a gorgeous Spode pattern that made cleanup a breeze and gave me time to take a breather before starting on dinner. Check in often, you can always find something new.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

4. Table Linens

I often mix and match paper and fabric. The burlap napkins and the paisley table cloth are finds I know I’ll enjoy for years to come. You can find a great assortment of table runners as well! A great way to use them is to layer a colorful runner over a solid table cloth. It’s a nice way to add new linens, and a great alternative to a full print table cloth.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

5. Drink Pitchers

These are another really great double-duty item. A simple lemonade or tea can be served in style, and they make wonderful flowers vases as well.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

6. The Centerpiece

For the centerpiece, I used a rustic wood table runner, then piled it with a lantern, a hurricane, mason jar and candles. I am crazy for lanterns. I use mine year-round and adore the versatility. They are often safe to use indoors and out. Lanterns look great stuffed with numerous things and you don’t have to stop at candles.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

7. Serving Pieces

Pretty bowls and platters can be used to serve everything from fruit to salads to main courses. I like the softness of the wood bowl and the pretty aqua paint color. It’s perfect layered with a grain sack-inspired dish cloth and filled with summer peaches. But always be sure that each piece you buy is food safe and not just decorator-only.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

8. Dishes

I’ve been collecting dishes for years. If you don’t have room for several sets, buy your favorite color, or just get it in white. With white, it’s easy to buy and store salad and dessert plates to add a punch of color without keeping several sets of full-size plates.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

9. Pillows

I’ll use a pillow anywhere I can get away with it! This beauty is an indoor version, and in a chair, offers great lumbar support. Outdoor-friendly fabric pillows and cushions are wonderful on the deck, patio or around the pool. When I was at HomeGoods, I saw some really cute stripe and print options.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

10. Bring in Nature

Chances are, if you’re pulling something together last minute, you don’t have time to procure fresh flowers. No worries! A few fern fronds, or a some clippings from a flowering tree or even a lively green branch or two in the right container will add just the touch of nature you need to make your setting come alive. Here, I added a whimsical wicker sailboat to help fill the space.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

My dessert and coffee dishes are ready and waiting for the main meal to be over.


Photo by Fox Hollow Cottage

I hope these ideas can make your next summer gathering a little simpler and more enjoyable. And while it’s wonderful to be surrounded by beautiful things, it’s even better to be surrounded by wonderful people. Cheers to both!

Do you have any tips for making impromptu gatherings a success? Share your ideas in the comments.

Shannon is the heart and mind behind Fox Hollow Cottage. On her blog she shares ideas and inspiration on how to create and decorate on an everyday-girl budget.

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