Sitting down to the table still in damp swimsuits and towels. A tray of something delicious just pulled off the grill. Summer dinners are at their best when the rules are relaxed and everyone is having a grand time. Vow to make the most of your warm months by adopting a few (or all eight) of these rules of summer that put the good stuff at the top of your to-do list.
1. I will toss cheerful textiles on the table with abandon.
Whether you’re hosting a big summer dinner party or it’s just you and the family, having something colorful on the table makes the occasion feel more festive. Try a fringed fouta-style beach blanket or lightweight coverlet for a casual, beachy vibe. Or for something a little different, toss a canvas painter’s dropcloth over the table and let guests doodle on it with fabric markers.
2. I will be open to seeing the dining room in a different light.
With a table tennis net and a few paddles, your dining table can play host to many a fierce tournament this summer. Not into table tennis? Top your credenza with caddies of arts-and-crafts supplies, cover the dining table with an easy-clean oilcloth cover and you’ve got a mini art studio that can easily hide away at dinnertime.
3. I will set up a summer bar, alcohol not required.
Life is more fun with festive drinks, and we all know staying hydrated is extra important in summer. Put together a summer “bar” with spa water (add fresh fruit, cucumber or sprigs of mint), sparkling water, juices and sodas. Gather your items on a serving tray, along with a glass filled with paper straws and a tiny bud vase for some life.
4. I will consider damp swimsuits and towels acceptable dining attire.
Because a day at the beach (or pool) is something to be celebrated, even if that means a bit of sand on the floor. There are three other seasons for worrying about outfits; let’s leave summer out of it.
5. I will fill the table with unfussy flowers.
Fresh flowers on the table can make even the simplest meal feel special — and thankfully, the abundance of summer blooms makes it easy (and affordable) to keep those vases filled all season. Divvy up a mixed bouquet by placing one or two stems in each of a row of bud vases. Short on vases? No problem: Glass soda bottles, jam jars and cream pitchers work beautifully as well.
6. I will break out the board games.
When was the last time you played Scrabble or Backgammon or put together a puzzle? As the biggest surface in the house, the dining table makes a natural place for hosting game night, so dust off that board game collection and keep it handy. If you can see your games, you’re a lot more likely to find the time to play them.
7. I will say yes to one more at the table.
Summer seems to attract drop-in visitors. Make it easy to add one more place at the table by storing everyday dishes right in the dining room. Bonus: With a self-serve setup like this, you can skip setting the table (and squeeze in an extra few minutes of fun).
8. And if we skip the dining table all summer? That’s fine by me too.
If grilling (and eating) in the backyard or picnicking in the park sounds more appealing than staying cooped up indoors at suppertime, go for it! We have the rest of the year to get cozy inside — summer is meant be lived out in the open.