For backyard picnics, I have seen red wagons repurposed as movable beverage stations. Burlap fabric or white bedsheets spread out as tablecloths. And clear glass Mason jars used for, well, just about anything.
With Memorial Day weekend kicking off the summer entertaining season, let’s talk some decorating ideas. Whether your outdoor gatherings are big or small, it’s easy to add some fun touches.
“I’m loving canning jars right now. It’s my new thing,” said Suzy Redino, a local interior designer who runs Cherry Tree Design.
Among the things she uses them for: Beverage glasses.
“I like spritzers and flavored seltzers, and I like to add fresh fruit like berries or even herbs. You can set up a tasting bar with the canning jars, your spritzers, juices, fruits and whatever else you want people to be able to add to their drinks. It looks great and tastes great,” said Redino, who also has spotted beverage dispensers in acrylic or glass that look like big canning jars.
“You can also freeze fruit in ice cubes,” she added.
Some other ideas:
• Raid your linen closet for outside table linens. “A quilt or bedspread is so pretty on a table. It adds so much color, and you probably have several of them right around the house,” Redino said.
Sheets also can work as a tablecloth in a pinch; they’re the right size and already hemmed. You can even put the pillowcases to work.
“The pillowcases slip over the backs of your chairs as chair covers and can be tied with raffia or ribbon. I love the new burlap ribbons,” Redino said.
• Pick up some colorful bandannas. You can decorate the table with them, use them as napkins, place them down the center of the table as a “runner” or line a basket with them for serving chips, rolls or cookies.
• If you want to go red, white and blue, try this: Start with a red-and-white-checked tablecloth. Wrap eating utensils in white napkins and tie with blue ribbon. Plunk some red gerbera daisies in a small galvanized bucket, or mix them with blue delphinium and white daisies in a glass canning jar. White daisies in cobalt blue vases are pretty, too.
• If it’s bright color you’re after, choose gerbera daisies in a combination of hot hues – maybe yellow, pink and orange – and buy a mix of solid paper products in the same colors. Party City offers a rainbow of colors. Use a white tablecloth or a leaf-green one.
• Looking for an outdoor vase? Besides canning jars, you can also use watering cans or bottles and cans stripped of their labels.
• Herbs, succulents and small topiaries in pretty pots also can be used as centerpieces on your picnic or buffet tables.
• Bugged by bugs? Charles Viancin offers a line of silicone lids in colorful designs such as hibiscus, cherry blossoms and sunflowers. MJ Brown of Tangled Twigs home and garden decor in Ellicottville showed them to me in March at Plantasia, the garden and landscape show at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. The lids come in different sizes and can be used to protect anything from wine glasses to fruit bowls.
Mesh food covers are another option. Pier 1 sells one in a colorful raffia-like leaf and floral design; it measures about 15 inches in diameter.
• Martha Stewart reminds us that “floating candles add instant atmosphere to a casual summer table.” You’ll find them shaped like flowers, flip flops and other summer themes.
You can also snip the stems off of a few gorgeous flowers and float them in a clear glass or plastic bowl. Just add some water to the bowl.
• This from the Better Homes and Gardens website: Use inexpensive white dish towels as oversize napkins when serving messy foods such as barbecue sandwiches and ice cream cones. For a July 4 gathering, one photograph shows the white towels rolled and tied with red-and-white or blue-and-white patterned shoelaces and set up on a blue tray. How do people dream up this stuff?
• Spring for a piñata. They not only are colorful, but as Country Living once put it: “A playful piñata ensures the party will end with favors that drop from the sky.”