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Set the Mood for Summer Outdoor Entertaining

05/12/2014 02:51 pm ET | Updated Jul 12, 2014

Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Aren't you just longing for relaxed evenings on the deck with good friends, good food, and good drinks? Here's how to set the mood for summer outdoor entertaining and host a smashing soiree.

Set the Mood for Summer Outdoor Entertaining with a Welcoming Seating Arrangement

Design a welcoming seating arrangement. Think of your outdoor furniture as you would your indoor living room furniture, and arrange your chairs, sofas, and tables in a way that's conducive to conversation. Create a focal point (more on that below) and ensure that seating is no more than 8 feet apart. Put a table within reach of each seat to allow for easy access to drinks, and leave 14"-18" between your coffee table and sofa and enough space to easily walk around the furniture.

Set the Mood for Summer Outdoor Entertaining with a Focal Point

Create a focal point. If your exterior space doesn't have a natural focal point like a beautiful fireplace or stunning view, create one with a patio umbrella or a richly textured outdoor wall fountain. A focal point draws the eye in and makes the layout of a space feel intentional. Here's why an outdoor fountain is a great decorating solution.

Set the Mood for Summer Outdoor Entertaining with an Outdoor Ceiling Fan

Control the climate with a ceiling fan. If your porch or patio is covered, an outdoor ceiling fan can help beat the heat. While not absolutely necessary to outdoor entertaining, this extra level of climate control helps to create a comfortable space for your guests on hot and sticky summer nights.

Candle Lanterns for Outdoor Summer Entertaining on the Deck Porch or Patio

Set the mood after dark with candles. Nothing says ambiance like candles. An array of gorgeous outdoor lanterns -- the more, the merrier -- creates an intimate atmosphere and encourages lingering late-night conversation. Lighting is key to setting a mood when entertaining, so be sure to check out my tips on how to layer lighting outdoors for more ideas and inspiration.

Cheers to warm nights and summer parties on the patio!