6 Hacks For Hosting The Perfect Summer Garden Party

At the Passalacqua hotel on Lake Como, NET-A-PORTER and La DoubleJ hosted a special event in celebration of the brand’s exclusive new capsule

From golden-hour drinks against a sunset backdrop to drawn-out dinners under the stars, an alfresco feast holds a particular kind of enchantment. Here, JJ MARTIN, founder of fashion and lifestyle brand La DoubleJ, shares her expert advice for elevating any garden party

Designer JJ Martin (right) and NET-A-PORTER ad interim CEO Alison Loehnis wearing pieces from the exclusive La DoubleJ capsule. Tableware for the event was also by La DoubleJ

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 we recently introduced our scalloped placemats in more subtle hues with matching linen napkins, which 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 – the effect of the greens from the linens set against all the greens around Lake Como was subtle but totally romantic. Yes, sometimes I can do subtle!

“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.”

A palette of yellow and warm neutral tones perfectly captures a summer mood, while darker accents of black and navy elevate the overall look
Fresh flowers are a must for any table setting – use an assortment of colorful vases, such as these styles by La DoubleJ, plus complementary glassware and crockery

Go bold and mix things up

“I’m a maximalist, so, for me, more is more. At La DoubleJ, we’ve designed all our homeware collections to work perfectly together at whatever level of maximalism you choose. 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.”

Situated on the shores of Lake Como, Passalacqua is a former 18th century private home transformed into a beautiful 24-room hotel with seven acres of gardens, including centuries-old cedars, magnolias, an olive grove and rose garden

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.”