Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley has a flair for fun, whimsical touches. She says that summer parties should be relaxed, laid back and just kind of thrown together. Check out her best ideas for entertaining at home.

Throw a Backyard Beach Bash
  • Designate a space (a closet, drawer or storage bin) to store all your party decorations—fun tablecloths, napkins, lanterns, etc. You never know when party people might stop by!
  • Think color. Mix up stripes, patterns and bright solids—the more the better! Cynthia likes to stock up on vintage tablecloths she finds at garage sales, then mixes them with pieces she already owns.
  • Regular old kitchen chair cushions make a hard wooden picnic bench more comfy. Look for fun summer stripes or bright colors to keep with your theme.
  • Plan your party around an activity. Cynthia recommends croquet or pulling your Ping-Pong table out of the basement and into the yard.
  • Set up party stations that allow your guests to move around. Pitch a tent, hang a hammock, or throw a grouping of straw mats on the grass so your guests can hang out.
  • Use things you have around the house. A wheelbarrow can hold party favors like disposable cameras, and your guests can help themselves.
  • For a cool treat, mix up your favorite summer cocktail, then pour it into Popsicle molds and freeze to make Pop-tails!
  • If you're feeding your guests, fire up the grill and set out some shish kabobs. Load up the skewers with chunks of chicken, shrimp, fruit and veggies, and let everyone throw them on the grill when they're hungry.
  • Don't forget to get yourself ready for the party. Wear something cute and simple, like a sundress that you can just throw on. You have to look good for your guests!
  • Remember, when it comes to a party, it's not what's on the table, it's what's on the chairs. Invite a good mix of people, and let the mingling begin!


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