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Living Beautifully:
Summer Entertaining for Real People

by | Jun 12, 2009 | Seasonal Decorating & Entertaining, Summer Decorating

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Living Beautifully: <br>Summer Entertaining for Real People

I am having another wonderfully busy week getting my girls all settled in Washington (oh happy week for me!) so I’ve asked my good friend Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer to share some beautiful life inspiration for us today — which of course for her involves entertaining! If any of you are slinking out the back door right now thinking entertaining beautifully is only for people like Martha, stick around.

Through Reluctant Entertainer, Sandy inspires her readers to find beauty in connecting with people rather than focusing on impressing them. Once we make that adjustment in our thinking, we are free to care about our neighbors and get to know new people in spite of our imperfections, busyness and whatever else stands in our way!

A beautiful life is about the authentic LIFE we live and how we share it with others!

So, as we head into another weekend, please welcome Sandy to inspire us with her idea of a perfect summer evening! I love that it involves inviting me over to dinner!

Living Beautifully: <br>Summer Entertaining for Real People

{the rest of this post was written by Sandy, Reluctant Entertainer}

Let’s imagine that my friend Melissa Michaels and her family is coming for dinner tonight!

For several years our families only lived 4 hours away from each other.  That 4 is now 7 since Melissa has moved to Seattle, so our chances of getting together have become slim.  We regret that we didn’t try harder when we lived closer to each other!

Yes, entertaining does take effort.  Yes, you have to make it happen. It just doesn’t happen FOR you!

So I’m going to pretend …

It’s beautiful in southern Oregon right now.  Cool nights and very warm days.  Perfect for entertaining.

Living Beautifully: <br>Summer Entertaining for Real People

I’m setting the table with one of my favorite oilcloth tablecloths made in France. Can you imagine a table cloth you don’t have to wash?  These beauties are made to wipe off with a wet sponge – and then they look like new!  They’re nothing like the old vinyl or plastic tablecloths that our mother’s used to use.  They are gorgeous and so practical for entertaining. You can find oilcloth tablecloths here (no,we are not paid to show you these!)

So I’m setting the table for our family, and for Melissa and her husband and son. But if her daughters and son-in-law happen to pop in later, that would make our dinner party even more fun! I can be spontaneous! The more the merrier!

Living Beautifully: <br>Summer Entertaining for Real People

Simple table set – a few votive candles and snips of iris’ from our yard.

Food prepared – halibut that melts in your mouth and fresh salad from our garden.

Melissa’s bringing dessert (power of delegation!)

Backyard ready for guests – easy ambience.

Kids ready to hang and play with Melissa’s son.

Music is playing.

The night is young.

More than the ambience or the tablescape though, what makes entertaining real for me is the connection.  The conversation that will take place, relationships that will be forged, and the intimacy that is shared.

It’s how we make a difference in this world — by reaching out to new families that come into our lives.

It’s called real entertaining for real people.

When is the last time you invited a new family over for dinner?

Living Beautifully: <br>Summer Entertaining for Real People

Please share YOUR thoughts in the comments and your beautiful life links on Mr. Linky!

{photos: Paul Coughlin}


  1. Lynne

    Wow! I can’t believe I’m first!!! Well, it’s 3:45 am and I’m up with a not so tired newborn! Love this post – full of great ideas. Have a beautiful weekend! I just want a little sun!

    Lynne @ Our Happy Homes inspiring blog post..Class of 2009 Graduate

  2. janmary, n. ireland

    That sounds like a perfect relaxing evening with friends.

    Can I fly over from Ireland to join you?!!

  3. Chie

    Always enjoying this time of the week. Been inspired of how we can be a better person .

    Great & simple ideas can make a big difference for a beautiful & simple life. That’s how I been doing. Make the best of it.

    Thanks again for never ending sharing of all you ideas & advices to each & everyone of us in the cyberworld.

    Have a blessed week-end!

    Chies inspiring blog post..A Simple Wooden Heart, Am I?

  4. Jasmine

    What a great post! It’s so easy (or common) to get carried away with getting things just right, fussing about the food and the things on the table. But it’s really not about that, is it?

    I love how Sandy sums it up:
    “…what makes entertaining real for me is the connection.”

    Thanks Sandy and Melissa. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Jasmine @ The Suburban Sentiments inspiring blog post..Hooked on: Terrariums

  5. abeachcottage

    love entertaining for real people, we so don’t have to be Martha do we…

    I am trying to make life beautiful here down under


    abeachcottages inspiring blog post..Flowers, Vintage, Sunshine & Snubs

  6. Burning Bushes

    This is great and so practical. Simple mom is hosting a post from me today about this very thing-focusing on people and relationships. Thanks for the great insights.

    Burning Bushess inspiring blog post..5 Ways to Get Rich Quick

  7. Liz

    What a timely post! I’ve just been organising my garden so I can throw lots of BBQ’s and dinner parties as I am a somewhat reluctant entertainer. But this year I’m going to make more of an effort, so I’ve been choosing garden lighting to add to the ambiance. Thanks for such a lovely post x

    [email protected] inspiring blog post..Garden Lighting

  8. Kristen

    I love backyard entertaining and the picures are so beautiful. More than both of those – I really appreciate the concept of connecting wtih people instead of trying to impress them. It really is our little imperfections that make us unqiue and we are definitely more approachable when we aren’t trying to convince folks we’re perfect. Thanks, Sandy, for sharing such a simple, but fantastic, idea!

    Kristen @ Beautifully Imperfects inspiring blog post..On This Day I Married My Best Friend…

  9. Debbykay

    Great post filled with ideas for sharing our lives together by sharing a meal or two!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas for summer fun!

    Debbykay at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm

    Debbykays inspiring blog post..Vintage Artisan Bread Bags {les sacs de pain

  10. Cathy

    Sandy sounds like a wonderful friend, which I am sure you will miss. I hope your family is settling into life in Washington. Moving often myself, I can relate and my motto is “Bloom Where You Are Planted”. It can be difficult leaving friends and family, but I find it exciting to visit new places and meet new friends. Wishing you a nice weekend! ~Cathy~

    Cathy @ The Stylish Houses inspiring blog post..Meadow Brook Hall & Gardens!

  11. Rhoda

    Now that all looks wonderful, Sandy. I think I’ll invite myself over for dinner too! :) You’re the primo hostess.

    Rhoda @ Southern Hospitalitys inspiring blog post..Making your own Window Treatments

  12. Astrid

    I honestly can’t remember the last time we had somebody new over. It used to be that I’d invite people over and they would turn me down. There are only so many turn downs I can take before deciding not to invite people over. (and no…I didn’t make a big production or make it stressful- either a nice, easy dinner or a yummy dessert). I’d love to have friends over but it’s hard getting turned down soooo many times.

    Astrids inspiring blog post..Fourteen Years ago today….

  13. Shannan

    I’m gearing up for my annual outdoor soiree. This is just the kick in the rear I needed to get moving on it! :)

    Shannans inspiring blog post..Thursday in Review

  14. Lauren

    To connect instead of impress…love it! I added my site b/c my art shows the real me…nothing fancy, pricy or professional. :) I love your site and love your table setting!

    Laurens inspiring blog post..For Art’s Sake

  15. V and Co

    this year i’m working on my back yard and making it an extension of my inside. i focus so much on the inside that i feel like i’ve always neglected the back yard in etertaining. but we are slowing making head way. i’ve enjoyed your back yard posts a lot!
    i’ve even re-did a picnic basket so we can have a picnic in the back yard and enjoy it with more ambiance!

  16. abbie

    I actually invited friends over about a month-ago. With young children, it is sometimes hard to remember that you once had a social life, and you are right, it isn’t going to happen for you. I also feel our home needs a lot of work before we have guests, but I forget that they don’t mind, it is the company that they enjoy, regardless of the fact that your home is a work-in-progress!
    I love that your menu was so simple! It must make shopping, prep, serving, and clean-up so much simpler! Thanks so much for a wonderful, inspiring post.

    abbies inspiring blog post..Organizing Link Friday – June 12th

  17. Gina

    We usually try to have new folks from church over often, it usually works out to be about once a month or so. It’s always fun and a great way to get to know new friends!

    Ginas inspiring blog post..Summer Goals

  18. teresa

    Thanks for sharing- I love to entertain- but don’t do it enough- you have inspire me to get on the stick and invite friends over. =)

    teresas inspiring blog post..An almost new Kitchen for $104

  19. AnNicole

    Great post. I’m terrible about inviting people over because I always feel like the house isn’t clean enough or I have too many projects going on. Thanks for a little healthy perspective.

    [email protected] inspiring blog post..Let’s Play Pretend Shall We?

  20. Brenda Leyland

    I was so inspired by your posting, both Melissa and Sandy, I had to highlight it today on my own site — you’re most welcome to come and see!

    Brenda Leylands inspiring blog post..Further to Robert Fulghum Quote

  21. Liz

    I’m a terrible reluctant entertainer, but this year I’ve vowed to turn over a new leaf. So I’ve tidied up the garden, given the furniture a lick of paint and now I’m choosing garden lighting to add ambiance to BBQ’s and outside dinner parties. I can’t wait to have some friends over now :)

    [email protected] inspiring blog post..Garden Lighting

  22. Lisa

    Such great ideas! Entertaining does not have to too complicated. I love what you did and you’re right – it’s about having people over. Trying to plan a dinner right now sounds like a lot, but I can certainly invite some friends over for an evening and just serve dessert and coffee/tea!

    Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolatess inspiring blog post..Would You Like Chocolate With That? ~ Guest Post: The Brownie Criminals

  23. Pearl Maple

    Beautiful, you do know how to pull together a entertaining and inspirational setting, just perfect for spending time with special friends. Thanks for sharing the inspiration and ideas.

    Pearl Maples inspiring blog post..Sky Watch Friday

  24. ToddandJen

    Outdoor entertaining is one of our most favorite ways to spend a summer evening. This post was the reminder we needed to get our outdoor living room spruced up and ready for fun!

    ToddandJens inspiring blog post..Jun 6, Framed Wall Art: Refine Your Style

  25. sandy

    Dear Melissa,

    Thank you for a great night at dinner last night! I wish …

    Thank you for hosting me today. We’re all here to encourage and inspire and help each other to become better people.

    I love it when we can do it around food!

    Love to you this weekend, Sandy

    sandys inspiring blog post..Melissa’s Coming for Dinner!

  26. Karin

    I love this post and your entire blog. We love entertainging all the time. New friends, family and old friends. There is just something so relaxing about having people in your backyard and grilling up something good and enjoying the company of many friends and family members. It makes for such sweet memories. I love your pics. We just did a graduation party for our youngest and had new friends over as well as many family members from all over and we had a blast. Can’t get enough of it. :) Thanks for all your tips and advice.

    Karins inspiring blog post..Hopspitable Pursuits Giveaway Ends today!

  27. Claudia

    Im in love with our little blogging world — helps remind us how every day we have such a beautiful life RIGHT in our own back yard.

    Wonderful post — dang.. now im hungry.


    [email protected] inspiring blog post..Hooked on Clouds

  28. Shannon

    I am inspired! I’ve been wanting to have some friends over for a long overdue visit, and this gives me lots to think about! I want to create a cozy tent-like atmosphere by attaching a big white sheet to four bamboo poles, then hanging battery-powered lanterns in the corners. And maybe grilled pizza for dinner? Oh the possibilities…

    Shannon @ AnchorMommys inspiring blog post..Goodbye newsroom, hello backyard

  29. Tara

    We just had a new family over last evening– funny enough I should stop here today at your post! It is so wonderful to see the efforts you have out into your yard (it was a BBQ) through the eyes of people who have never seen it before–they were so gracious and it made me step back and say, hey, it IS nice here!

  30. Beach Vintage

    You have posted alot of things for me to think about this weekend.. Many thanks xx



  1. Melissa’s Coming for Dinner! - [...] guesting over at The Inspired Room today.  Visit me there, as I use my imagination and I invite Melissa and…

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