Everything You Need to Know About Throwing a Backyard Party, According to EyeSwoon’s Athena Calderone
For more tips and tricks from social media stars, pick up a copy of InStyle's July issue, on newsstands and available for digital download now.
If you catch a glimpse of her dreamy Amagansett, N.Y., home on her décor, food, and lifestyle blog, it's reasonable to think that EyeSwoon founder Athena Calderone resides in a Pinterest feed come to life. Here, she explains how to bring this effortless aesthetic outdoors. So ditch the paper plates this Fourth of July and snag her tips for transforming your barbecue into an ultra chic (and fuss-free!) affair.
What's your approach to alfresco entertaining?
It should be effortless and unfussy. I live for the days when I just spend hours at the beach with friends, then we all tumble into the car, stop at the market, and cook dinner at someone's house.
What essentials should you have ready for those spontaneous moments?
Store fresh herbs like basil, mint, and parsley in your fridge. In a pinch, add olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, and use it as vinaigrette, or drizzle it over a steak after it comes off the grill.
Is there an easy way to dress up your patio table?
For last-minute gatherings, fill Mason jars with trims of everything growing in your garden. Branches of lavender or overflowing mint leaves look holistic and smell amazing. If you have time to prepare for your event, I love the idea of putting a mini espresso cup at each setting and potting little individual herbs in them. It's something nice for guests to take home.
How do you use lighting to set a mood?
Mini string lights, which you can buy inexpensively from Home Depot or Lowe's, and candlelight are so flattering. I try to avoid scented candles when people are eating, but Carrière Frères makes herb-scented options that complement food.
What's the best way to plan ahead for guests' needs?
Set out drinks, especially water, so that people don't have to feel uncomfortable asking for it. Stock up on flip-top glass vessels in a variety of sizes from Saveoncrafts.com. I always have four or five filled with filtered water to take out of the refrigerator when people pop in.
Favorite décor trend this season?
The Scandinavian influence. There's a light-wood moment happening now, which pairs well with white, pale pink, pale blue, and nautical-striped linens.
Any tricks for capturing great photos in outdoor settings?
I am a stickler for good lighting. I could be at the most beautiful evening event where the lights are dim and the setting looks warm, but I simply won't post anything because low light never quite translates in photos taken with a smartphone. Here's my test: I shoot a few pictures with and without flash, then upload each one to Instagram without actually posting to see how well they can be edited.
Thyme candle, Carrière Frères, $45; shop.bmooredesign.com. Heirloom cutting board in white oak, Jacob May, $300; quitokeeto.com. Linen table napkin, Linge Particulier, $29; jennikayne.com. Porcelain basket, Heirloom Home and Studio, $65/set of 3; food52.com. Extra virgin olive oil, Ila, $42/15 oz.; ila-shop.co.