How To Host The Perfect Summer Party, By Designer JJ Martin

Summer is the season when diaries should be filled with alfresco soirées. From golden-hour drinks against a sunset backdrop to drawn-out dinners under the stars – a beautifully designed outdoor gathering holds a particular kind of magic. Here, JJ MARTIN, founder of the vivid fashion and lifestyle brand La DoubleJ, shares her six tips for elevating any garden party

Delightful details, such as wild flowers and a colorful array of La DoubleJ glassware in incredible jewel tones, will bring any summer party to life

Be generous with the details

“For me, this is all about bringing the inside out; there’s something so luxurious about a garden table laced with layers of beautiful linens, candles and cushions. The key is making the details seem generous: drape tablecloths over every table – even your drinks or serving tables – and make your main tablecloth a smidge oversized so the fabric really waterfalls off. Bring your silver candlesticks outside and mix them with chic tapered dinner candles – wind-dependent, obviously. I like to set La DoubleJ’s Murano rainbow glasses as I usually would indoors, with one for water and one for wine. They’re in incredible jewel tones, so they cast fantastic shadows on an outdoor table. Flowers are also key here – bring whatever abundance you have around you onto the table.”

“I like to put together a drinks station that looks elevated,” says JJ Martin of creating the perfect welcome for guests
Coloful patterned linens – a La DoubleJ signature – create a warm and convivial setting

Set a drinks station

“I like to put together a drinks station that looks elevated. Setting up a bar with all our colored champagne coupes, wine glasses and water glasses together feels super-special but also warm and elegant. I like to elevate it by adding in layers of linens – the minute you go from basic white to something patterned, it already feels great.”

“I truly believe in the energetic power of color,” says Martin, who recommends choosing a base color for your table setting, such as green, and then layering in contrasting shades

Consider your colors

“I’m always one for clashing prints and colors, but our scalloped placemats in more subtle hues with matching linen napkins feel really fresh and can throw more focus on the space you are in. We used the emerald versions for a lunch at Passalacqua hotel last summer – the effect of the greens from the linens set against all the greens around Lake Como was subtle but totally romantic.

“I usually begin with one color schematic, starting with the plates, then I build the linens’ story around them. It doesn’t have to be totally match-matchy, just so long as there’s one fil rouge. I truly believe in the energetic power of color. The lighter and brighter the hues on your tabletop, the lighter and brighter the mood – guaranteed. Choosing pieces to work together is an act of creativity and pretty much instinctive. When a combination works, I can feel it in my gut; it’s like an oven turning on in there.”

Coloful patterned linens with complementary glassware and crockery create a striking and convivial setting
A palette of warm yellow and orange tones perfectly captures a summer mood

Go bold and mix things up

“I’m a maximalist, so, for me, more is more. Our dessert-plate set is my favorite for layering that looks expert but is actually easy-peasy. Each plate in the set comes in different Mediterranean hues and prints, so it’s already mixed and matched if playful plating doesn’t come naturally to you. Just place them on top of your white plates at home and you have a ready-made tablescape. The main thing is to have fun with it.”

Fresh flowers and colorful bowls of fruit are a must for any summer table setting

Take care of your garden

“The most important thing is ensuring your alfresco background has enough vines, leaves, plants – just general abundance. The more you can care for your garden, terrace or balcony, the better. If you have flowers blooming on your terrace, by all means use those on the table. I find displaying them in a mix of bud vases, printed ceramic ones, Murano glass and so on makes a real impact.”

Don’t forget the cushions

“I’m only half-joking – no one likes a picnic-bench butt. I feel like alfresco affairs really need linens. The way to make it feel cozy is to bring fabrics and textiles from the inside out: printed tablecloths, placemats and cushions you’d usually scatter on your sofa indoors, rather than ones specially designed for outside. Play with textures like linen or velvet for a more summery and decadent feel.”