Outdoor Entertaining

New to the party-throwing scene? You can still create a refined backyard affair in less than an afternoon. Try these eight simple ideas for instant elegance.

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Ice Bucket and Glasses
Chill Out

    These bottled drinks were chosen for their bright red color. Display and chill them in a clear glass bowl with plenty of ice. Of course, guests are welcome to help themselves!

Mixed Company

    Mix things up a little when you set the table. Heavier blue bowls sit atop delicate white china, and refined wineglasses stand by chunky blue tumblers. Orchids add bright, contrasting color to the tabletop.

Table Trim

    What could be easier than iron-on trim? Using fusible webbing, press your favorite trim on the edges of a tablecloth and napkins. Here, aqua blue grosgrain ribbon and embroidered daisy trim pull the pool colors to the table for a refreshing look.

Classy Candles

    Dress up a plain glass votive holder with ribbon. Use hot glue to secure blue grosgrain ribbon (about 1 1/2 inches wide) to the glass, then tie a narrow red ribbon around it. Put one votive at each place setting.

Cards of Clouds

    Blue sky and white clouds on place cards continue the table's color scheme. To make this project, take Polaroids of the sky, and jot each guest's name on a photo. Or print out digital photos on white paper or pretty note cards.

Easy Escape

    To create this dreamy look, use sheer white curtains as walls for your outdoor room. Stretch thin wire between support posts on your porch, then drape the curtains from wires hung on either side of the table. (Try hanging the wires from tall metal pipes if you don't have an existing structure.)

Berry Refresher

    Thanks to natural flavors, the water in the pitcher is especially refreshing. Float raspberries, blueberries, and scented geranium leaves or other herbs in water for a fragrant, nonalcoholic drink.

Center of Paradise

    The blue bowl serving as the table's centerpiece matches the pool's brilliant color. Vibrant orchids rest on pale white stones, with a little water to keep the blooms fresh. Try zinnias, daisies, or other garden blooms for a casual cottage feel.

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