Now that the hydrangeas are blooming and our local farmer’s markets are bursting with summer bounty, the weather finally calls for entertaining al fresco. I spoke with seasoned decorator Bunny Williams, the designer behind this year’s 2015 Southern Living Idea House and a namesake collection at Ballard Designs, on the very subject. Here, her tips on throwing a memorable outdoor party, being a savvy hostess, and combatting the nuisances of hot weather. If you missed the first part of my interview with Bunny, you can check it out HERE on The Love List.
1. What is the best al fresco party you’ve ever attended? What made it so great?
I have been to many wonderful outdoor parties, but I have to say, none are better done than the fetes that John and I throw in Punta Cana. We built the house with the idea that we would mostly live and dine outside, and we always have a constant stream of visitors. Setting the large stone dining table is one of my true joys. John and I have an extensive collection of tabletop pieces and I love mixing things together to create different looks.
2. What tips would you offer the younger set, who are entertaining in smaller yards and on smaller budgets in their 20’s and 30’s?
Don’t think you need a large yard, a big budget or even a dining table to entertain – especially outside. Instead of a sit-down dinner, invite friends over for afternoon tea. Make tiny tea sandwiches with brownies or cookies for dessert, and serve iced tea or lemonade and have some beer on hand.
3. What is your favorite summer flower for the table, and how do you think they are best displayed? Do you prefer a simple arrangement or something more intricate?
Keep things simple. I love to use dahlias from my garden in low arrangements around large glass hurricanes. Even if you don’t have a garden, use flowers that are in bloom. Or, small potted succulents down the center of a table are an easy alternative.
Watch Bunny Williams offer up her tips for outdoor entertaining.
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