Shades of lavender and Asian accents set the scene with style to spare.
Punch Up Your Outdoor Party
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

Bring sparkle to your next party by using a favorite color all around. We chose lavender because it has such a wonderful springtime feel. Chinese take-out containers in the same hue and a pretty screen inspired the Asian accents that add to the fun.

Easy Tablecloth
A bedsheet and a little fabric make a great table covering. Simply fold the sheet to suit the size of your table (larger tables need larger sheets), and let it puddle a little on the floor. For the topper, use bright burlap (ours was $4.99 per yard) cut to fit the table. Fringe the edges by pulling out threads of the material. It's very easy, and you can make the fringe as wide as you want. This does take some time, so don't wait until the last minute. Add pattern to your table with place mats.

Pretty Favors for Everyone
Little touches always make parties more memorable. Delight your guests with a small treat to remind them of the occasion. Here, lavender Chinese take-out boxes hold tiny vases (in purple, of course). The boxes can also serve as place cards; just tie a name tag to the handle of each one with purple raffia. Add pattern to each place setting with coordinating cloth napkins. Inexpensive paper fans make a stylish statement tied to the chair arms with more raffia.

Instead of Flowers, Try This
Simple glass vases can be customized to match your color theme. Wrap a few with patterned art paper in varying shades of your chosen hue. Float candles in colored water for an unexpected look. A floral centerpiece is a party standard, so why not try something new? A petite plant makes a lovely adornment for the table shown here, and it can be enjoyed for a long time after the party.

Be a Clever Hostess

  • Outfit a rolling cart with a variety of iced beverages and glassware. Guests will enjoy serving themselves, and it will save you time.
  • Use a screen to create a cozy and private atmosphere outdoors.
  • Want to take care of guests and enjoy your party too? Stash supplies behind the screen so you don't have to keep going to the kitchen.

Sources: Burlap fabric (#589-16) from King Cotton, Birmingham, (205) 322-5878; place mats from West Elm,; paper lanterns, umbrellas, takeout boxes, black charger plates, white square plates, chopsticks, chair pillows, square glass vases, and folding screen from Cost Plus, (R); purple art paper from Alabama Art Supply, Birmingham (205) 322-4741; striped napkins from Table Matters, Birmingham (205) 879-0125; glasses on table and gift vases from A'Mano, Birmingham (205) 871-9093 (R).

This article is from the April 2005 issue of Southern Living.