Valerie Rice On Successful Summer Hosting Alfresco

We're all about summer in all of it's glory — beach hopping, lounging by the pool, sailing, etc. We love nothing more, however, than hosting friends and family at our home. Entertaining is always a great time when in good company, but dining al fresco and enjoying the fabulous weather at the same time makes it all the better. Valerie Rice is all about summer hosting as well. Rice has a reputation for being quite the entertain extraordinaire on topics from gardening to cooking to party planning — all down to the last detail. She's sharing her fantastic go-to summer soiree tips with us! 

Here's what Rice has to say on warm-weather hosting: 

I love hosting evening dinners outside. Something about the candlelight and fresh air gives a little magic to the night. Bigger events are fun to host every now and then, but I always find that the smaller, more intimate gatherings are the most memorable.

Here are a few of my go-to entertaining tips for making the most of an al frescoevening with friends: 

• Create an outdoor entertaining space near your kitchen. That way your food doesn't get cold hauling it out across the backyard, and if it's in close proximity you will use it more.

• Again, let the style of your home speak to the furniture and tablelinens you select for the space— if you truly approach it as another room in your home it will be consistently used and enjoyed.

• In lieu of flowers, find some pretty pots and plant them with succulents. They will look beautiful and last all summer long. When it's party time, add some votives to the table and you're set.

• I like to use linens and dishes in shades of cream, white and flax, layering a variety of textures. This neutral backdrop is elegant, but also allows the colors and beauty from theflowers, food and wine to take center stage.

• Room temperature dishes make for more enjoyable entertaining. You can prep most of the menu beforehand and you aren't setting yourself up to being a slave to the kitchen. Always keep your fresh garnishes for the last minute, that way they won't wilt pre-meal time.

• Dress to enjoy the evening. My go-to for summer entertaining is a pretty shift dress. It looks pulled together but lets me eat all night without fear of my pants exploding. Wear shoes that are easy to move back and forth from kitchen to table whilestill maintaining at least a little grace.