With warmer weather and later sunsets here at last, there’s no better time than *right now* to throw an outdoor summer party. And nobody knows that better than Aerin Lauder, founder of the lifestyle brand Aerin, who spends much of the summer season entertaining in her garden. As the reigning queen of the casual-meets-elegant summer soirée, she’s introducing a new tabletop collection with Williams Sonoma that has literally everything you could possibly need to host the same sort of shindig in your own backyard.
“Outdoor entertaining in the summertime is my favorite,” says Lauder, a businesswoman and the granddaughter of Estée Lauder. “When entertaining, my goal is for guests to feel as comfortable as possible—I always consider incorporating elegant, unexpected touches to do so.” Since I sadly don’t have any plans to hang out in Aerin Lauder’s actual garden this summer, I did the next best thing and picked her brain to find out the best ways to recreate her easygoing vibes in my own backyard.
Keep scrolling for Lauder’s tips on how to throw a summer bash in the backyard.
Mix up the colors and textures
“Blue and white are my favorite color combination and are a part of my design DNA,” says Lauder, whose Williams Sonoma collection is filled with color combo. “Recently, I’ve been more drawn to classic blue and white with accents of green—a pairing that is a big part of my collection with Williams Sonoma. The colors reflect the landscape of the sea, sky, lush greenery, and bright white beachside homes. For textures, I gravitate towards incorporating wicker—it has a casual elegance.”
Turn cocktail “hour” into an actual cocktail “party”
“I use a tray to create an instant cocktail party,” says Lauder. “It quickly becomes a portable bar space that can move with your guests. I usually place flowers, a crystal carafe and glasses, my favorite spirits and our footed deco bowls filled with nuts and chips for guests to snack on while they pour themselves a drink. It’s elegant and relaxed.” If you’re looking to mix up something summer-y and refreshing, check out Jonathan Van Ness’s “Apple Cider Frosé” recipe for inspo.
Nothing gets a party going quite like the right soundtrack. Lauder’s go-to jams? “Maroon 5 and Coldplay are always on my playlist,” she says, noting that she likes to stick with more modern music. “Most importantly, if you are enjoying yourself and are relaxed, your guests will be too!”
Make everyone feel like they’re at home
The best summer parties are the ones where guests feel so chilled out and comfortable that they never want to leave. Lauder’s trick? “I serve sangria in beautiful pitchers that I put down on the table so guests can help themselves,” she says. “I keep the table setting simple and casually elegant.”
When it is finally time for everyone to head home, send them on their way with a little something. “My grandmother [Estée Lauder] loved sending her guests home with a small gift,” says Lauder. “I love to incorporate a little something for each guest into the place setting—a personalized handwritten note or small gift are always memorable takeaways.”
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