Simple Table Setting Ideas for a Breezy Summer Dinner Party

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It’s official: backyard party season is here, and I know I’m not the only one who wants to shout “hooray!” rooftops every time I go out and feel the sun on my skin. We’re in that early summer blissful time where I want to eat every meal out. And this year, after a winter that has dragged on as we huddled behind masks and zoom calls, we’re feeling especially festive. As we emerge from our socially distanced caves and begin to reunite with friends and family, I focus on bright seasonal recipes and simple table setting ideas to elevate the mood. It doesn’t take much: think a nice tablecloth or a set of handmade bowls that take center stage on an otherwise minimal table.

I’ve stocked up on a few pretty things to elevate my table setups for brunches, BBQs, and dinner parties. For me, the table is a place of creativity and expression of my personal style through cuisine and aesthetics that bring me joy. And it doesn’t take much for a table to be truly special.

My formula for a perfect table? Simple linens, a few candles, dishes that look handmade, and a decorative touch inspired by the natural world.

By stocking my supplies with a few different twists on these four elements, I can change things up with the seasons and the gathering, and my table will always be fresh and inspired. Read on for a dinner table I set up in my garden last week – I’m breaking it down with my design process and the exact products I used. Then head over to my Instagram to see the video in action later tonight.

A table inspired by the “farm-to-table feast”

The concept: This table is a distillation of everything I love: crinkled linen napkins, handmade terracotta tableware, textural details in neutral tones. My inspiration is the richness of spring herbs and vegetables, and they play a starring role in decorative touches as well as in my dinner menu.

These August Sage bowls are inspired by the heavens and earth of West Texas with a desert vibe that I’m mostly feeling this season. They have such a beautifully heavy weight, and I love that each one is unique. Buy it here:

whiskey and clay ceramic ramen bowl - simple mise en place ideas

Keep it simple. Really.

When setting a table for a dinner party, I usually lay the foundation with favorite items I already own (like this linen tablecloth and ceramic pitcher), then add a few special new items that I add to my collection. each season. The advantage of sticking mostly to a palette of neutrals is that you can mix and match seamlessly – if you only have 3 or 4 of a certain type of bowl or cup, alternate with each others and it will look intentional. It’s about embracing imperfections, so don’t overthink it, just go with the flow.

summer table decoration ideas for a garden dinner, tulips and limes, camille styles backyard

What’s on my summer menu

A pasture board featuring local cheeses and artisanal jam; a loaf of sourdough bread with good salted butter, a large salad filled with lots of summer herbs and baby lettuce, and a bowl of simple pasta with peas, pesto and burrata.

This stoneware pitcher looks handmade and upscale, but it’s a total steal at $15. It was the perfect craft container for the spring tulips I found that morning at the flower market. Buy it here:

Stoneware Large Cream Glazed Pitcher - Simple Placement Ideas

rustic setting for a backyard dinner with ceramic plates

Location settings

Here is that mix of neutrals I told you about. I was determined to use these desert-inspired stoneware bowls I’m obsessed with, but I didn’t have any other pieces in the collection. So I paired glazed dinner plates from Anthropologie and loved that it created a unique combination all my own. These upcycled glasses, handmade by artisans in Morocco, are my new summer must-haves: they’re the perfect versatile size for white wine or sparkling water, and I love that they add a bit of texture while keeping things very simple. Each glass has natural variation, a recycled glass tint and the most subtle bubbling. They’re also a total steal at just $8 a glass.

Buy them here:

moroccan recycled glassware by august sage

rustic setting for a backyard dinner with ceramic plates

Table linen

I’m usually the type to take care of sheets – you’ll never see me ironing a starched tablecloth, that’s for sure! That said, especially in warmer months, there’s just something about a crinkled, stonewashed linen tablecloth draped over a table. It’s breezy and makes me feel like I’m at a long, lazy lunch in an Italian villa.

Since I didn’t have a tablecloth big enough to pool on the floor like I imagined, I used two simple white sheets I’ve had for years (one of them is actually an old curtain!, then I laid them opposite directions, so there was a drape on all four sides of the table.

Let’s talk about these gorgeous washed gray linen napkins. I love the warmth and earthiness they brought to our mise en place. Handwoven in India, they’re made from Belgian linen and you can feel the quality in their soft, substantial drape. Swoon.

Shop then towel set here (shown in blush, I used gray):

blush frayed linen napkin set - simple place setting ideas

summer table decoration ideas, Camille Styles summer dinner table in the backyard with trees

Another Total Theft are these soapstone candle holders I found at Target. I honestly couldn’t believe how heavy they felt for being so affordable. This is a timeless piece that I know I will bring out again and again for holiday get togethers and everyday dinner parties.

Sopastone Candle Holder - Simple Placement Ideas

summer table decoration ideas, Camille Styles summer dinner table in the backyard with trees

The centerpiece

My original plan was to skip the flowers and instead let the transport from my farmer’s market serve as the table setting – I love placing fresh fruits and vegetables in a wooden bowl or woven tray for a centerpiece that’s effortlessly beautiful. But then I spotted these tulips at the flower market, and I was doomed…

summer table decoration ideas, Camille Styles summer dinner table in the backyard with trees

The tulips were so stunning I wanted to let their beautiful color and ruffled edges take center stage, so I placed them in this simple white pitcher (above) and then kept the rest of the table minimal with a simple snack board and a large bowl full of limes.

summer table decoration ideas, Camille Styles summer dinner table in the backyard with trees

These hand painted plates are made in Portugal with a beautifully glazed pattern that is subtle enough to mix and match with other pieces. The mix of taupes and beiges (with just the most subtle hint of shine) makes them really special, while still staying true to my neutral palette all over the table.

Buy them here:

estremoz dinner plate - simple mise en place ideas

light up white summer dress for a dinner party

Ok ok, the DRESS

Major “summer on the riviera vibes”, right? I walked into the new LoveShackFancy store in Austin the other day and immediately fell in love with no less than five white dresses. I had to choose one (alas, the ole budget), so I finally landed on this sun-ready Lupita Midi Dress in Antique White. It’s a worthy splurge, since I could wear it to every gathering all season long. (Price per wear, do you feel me?)

summer table ideas, Camille Styles summer dinner table in the backyard with trees, grapes and candlesticks, spring flowers

Another necessity for any outdoor diner is a sturdy tray to carry food and supplies back and forth from the kitchen. This chunky seagrass tray fits my beach style so much – when I’m not using it to carry glassware, it usually lives on my dining table full of citrus fruits.

Hope you have some simple table setting ideas to host your own summer dinner party! It’s such a fun and inspiring way to kick off the season with friends, and I promise it doesn’t have to be complicated. Use what you have, be inspired by the seasons, and see table setting as an opportunity for creativity and beauty. Don’t forget to jump on my instagram where I will post the video today.


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