As the weather heats up, with summer well under way, we love gathering with friends and family in an elegant environment. Man-about-globe Jake Gaines shares his personal hosting insight that applies to a terrace in Cote D;Azure, or your every own poolside patio.

Thick, comfortable cushions on the chairs will encourage guests to linger at the table. Create cozy conversation settings in odd numbers so that no one is compelled to stand.

Don’t get overly fussy with china since an eclectic mix always feels more welcoming. Pair your grandmother’s Royal Crown Derby with Crate & Barrel for variety in shapes and color.

Repurpose indoor furniture to create an outdoor “room.” A den’s ottoman layered with bright pillows, or a 70’s faux marble side table, will add dash to any exterior.

Colorful beach balls floating in the pool, or large, fresh floating flowers like peonies or gardenias, always create an aquatic statement. They can also be used as a table centerpiece by pouring water into a large serving platter, then trim the stems off each flower so they will float.

On a steamy night, your guests will be happy with simple fare: sparkling drinks and savory little bites, crudités, sweet treats, and other light items to go with heavier BBQ.

To keep dairy-based dips chilled and fresh, fill a large bowl with ice, sprinkle it with kosher salt and lace the dip bowl on top.

Set up a lemonade stand to keep guests hydrated on hot afternoons. Place garnished glasses within easy reach on a dessert stand. How about getting the kids’ in a hosting spirit and have them hand out the drinks in the front yard as guests arrive?

Set up tables in separate areas with drinks in one spot, desserts in another. It encourages your guests to roam around the venue. You can also stock a vintage bar cart with essentials: glasses, plates, ice, a cocktail shaker, and vintage swizzle sticks.


At twilight, make sure you provide plenty of lighting. Paper lanterns draped from tree limbs, or lit lanterns 12 inches from limbs (with dark extension cords that blend in).

Add battery-operated candles that provide you with the same glowing light, with no worries of wind or dripping wax. Also, consider hanging an outdoor chandelier to a mighty oak to add more sparkle to your scene.

To protect your guests from pesky visitors, encircle your party area with citronella candles or incense sticks to light when night falls. Mosquitoes? What mosquitoes?