Take Your Labor Day Party from Drab to Fab with These Tips from Entertaining Expert Nathan Turner

labor day entertaining
Photo: Kimberly Genevieve

If you're planning a party for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, you may be scouring the interweb for some much-needed decor inspiration. As the unofficial last weekend of summer, it's one of our final chances to entertain outdoors, so it's only natural to want to host one last big shindig before we're forced inside for several months.

We chatted with designer and entertaining extraordinaire, Nathan Turner, who gave us his best tips for hosting a summer party. From flowers to drinks to table decor, he covered every little detail and then some. Read below to see what he had to say.

One of the first things Turner revealed is that he doesn't always use proper table cloths when entertaining guests. "I rarely buy table cloths. Instead, I opt for fabric by the yard. It can be something as simple as a linen that's $5 a yard or this gorgeous floral by Bennison. I just cut the ends and use double stick hem tape to finish off the ends."

labor day entertaining story
Kimberly Genevieve

We love the simple colors that he chose for this tablescape. "Blue-and-white is the perfect backdrop for pops of color in both decorating and table top. That's why I chose to mix in the hot pink peonies and dahlias in with white flowers as it pops off the fabric."

Speaking of flowers, Turner suggests using neutral tones with a pop of color here and there. "I mixed white peonies and dahlias for a clean look but added one or two hot pink peonies in the mix to give it a needed punch."

labor day entertaining story
Kimberly Genevieve

It's also important to take flower height into consideration when planning out your table, because there is nothing worse than trying to talk to the person across from you with a giant bouquet in your face. "I kept the flower height low to facilitate conversation but made sure to make plenty so they could run the entire length of the table."

For the tableware, Turner likes wicker and bamboo. They "add a chic factor to outdoor entertaining—especially when paired with the chinoiserie-chic of the table cloth," he shared. "That's why I used bamboo flatware from Juliska. The napkin ring is a great way to add a little detail, and so I used a bamboo ring here, as well."

Keep in mind that your decor doesn't need to be matchy-matchy, either. "For one more pop of color, I added a turquoise water glass. Things don't always have to match perfectly. Sometimes it's that one color that comes out of left field that can bring it all together."

labor day entertaining story
Kimberly Genevieve

If you are into handmade menus and name tags, we love how Turner made them his own. "For a little summertime whimsy, I watercolored the name tags and menu cards showing a few of the items that are on the menu." Painting these items yourself really makes them more personal.

When it comes to the bar (a very important factor, if you ask us), it always helps to mix things up ahead of time. "Whether you have a bartender or not, I love pre-made drinks. Be sure to always have some alcoholic versions, as well. Here we did a champagne bar with two options: crushed blackberries or pear purée. I also had an iced tea and a fresh limeade that was also served with vodka."

Labor Day Entertaining
Kimberly Genevieve

And how can we forget about everyone's favorite part of a meal: dessert. "I always like to serve dessert on a self service table. People really like to help themselves when it comes to sweets especially when they're miniatures like small apple and peach hand pies or mini chocolate trifles served in small mason jars."

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