A Few Handy “Hacks” For Summertime Entertaining

Summertime Entertaining

Last weekend we FINALLY pulled the patio table and chairs out of storage (the corner of our yard) and set them up on the patio. I can’t tell you how EXCITED I was about this! I absolutely LOVE when the weather finally gets nice enough to start dining outdoors. There’s just something about dining al fresco that is good for the soul! :-)

As I got to thinking about outdoor dining and entertaining this summer, there were a couple of things I decided I really needed to improve the overall experience. One was a functional tablecloth and the other was a utensil caddy! So with those two must-haves in mind, I headed over to our local JCPenney to see what I could find. Little did I know how many more things I would find that I MUST HAVE! :-)

Summertime Entertaining

My first find of the day was in the bedding department where I found my “tablecloth.” I had bought a tablecloth for our patio table before, but I grew frustrated with it because it was so lightweight it would blow off at the slightest breeze. This Everyday “Spring Fever” quilt was just the ticket! Thin enough to set your tableware on without it falling over, but heavy enough not to blow away. It just needed a little “modification” to make it work on our umbrella table.

Here is how I modified my quilt/tablecloth for an umbrella table:

Summertime Entertaining

Find the center of your cloth/quilt by folding in quarters. Cut from one side of the cloth to the center. In the center, trace around something roughly the size of your umbrella pole, then cut out that circle. You could conceivably use it just like this, but you would most likely be sorry after the first time you washed it. I decided to finish off the cut edges with some fabric binding, but you could also just zigzag stitch along the edges as well.

Since I didn’t have any binding handy (and didn’t want to run to another store) I made some “homemade” binding using an old cotton pillowcase. Here is a good tutorial on how to make your own seam binding. You can also use fusible seam binding if you don’t have a sewing machine.

Summertime Entertaining

After sewing on the binding, I added 4 small velcro strips to keep the cut edges together once they were on the table and I had just created the umbrella patio table tablecloth of my dreams! :-)

Now to dress up the REST of the table! The idea of making a quilt into a tablecloth captured my imagination and while I was at JCPenney browsing, I came up with a few more summer entertaining “hacks” that I love!

Summertime Entertaining

Summertime Entertaining

Tissue dispenser turned Napkin Dispenser

I found this adorable little Casa Tissue Cover in the bathroom accessories area at JCPenney and turned it into a napkin dispenser by cutting a paper towel roll in half and pulling out the cardboard core. Voila! A quick and easy way to make sure everyone has a napkin at hand!

Summertime Entertaining

Summertime Entertaining

Soap Dispensers turned Condiment Dispensers

I fell in love with these cute green glass lotion dispensers, also found in the bathroom accessories department! I was a little concerned whether they would dispense my condiments easily, but they worked like a charm and look so pretty on my summer table!

Summertime Entertaining

Summertime Entertaining

Washcloths turned Cloth Napkins

Why spend money on fancy cloth napkins (which I never can seem to find in a color or pattern I like anyway) when you can pick up a whole package of crisp, clean white washcloths that are INFINITELY more absorbent anyway? :-)  I also found these napkin rings that coordinated nicely with the dispensers above.

Summertime Entertaining

Summertime Entertaining

And last but certainly not least…..

Metal Rack with Bowls turned Utensil Caddy!

This caddy ended up serving TWO purposes!  I took the beautiful white bowls that came with the metal rack and re-purposed them for salad topping bowls and replaced the bowls with some inexpensive flower pots. TWO tabletop solutions in one! That’s my kinda deal!

Summertime Entertaining

None of these summer tablescape “hacks” required any modification like the tablecloth did, but I still think they are so fun and functional!

Summertime Entertaining

Summertime Entertaining

One final “find of note” that I picked up during my JCPenney excursion… this wonderful tray that is covered with little rubber “polka dots” which keep cups, glasses, or what have you, from slipping and sliding when transporting from kitchen to outdoor table and back again. I can tell I’m going to get LOTS of use out of this!

Summertime Entertaining

So what do you think? I just love how my updated summertime table turned out!

If you’re looking for some fun and functional ideas for summertime entertaining, head on over to JCPenney or JCP.com and check out the great Memorial Day deals going on now.



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  1. Nicole C says

    I use small galvanized tin flowerpots as utensil holders when I’m entertaining.
    Another idea for a tablecloth that’s a little heavier is a fabric shower curtain. I’ve saved my old ones with that intention, but unfortunately all of my outdoor tables are too long.

  2. Vicki F. says

    I turned a small cleaning caddy into a holder for plastic silverware, napkins, and cups. It is handy inside or out, and especially the napkins are less likely to blow away outside.

  3. Sheilasu says

    My favorite “hack” is to use a jumbo cupcake tin and fill it with all the condiments for a great burger … onions, pickles, relish, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, grated cheese, mayonnaise, etc…..
    What makes this great is that you only have ONE dish to clean for all your condiments.
    I do love your tablecloth idea, Jillee…will have to search one out next time I am in town (we have no J.C.Penny here.

  4. Lynne J says

    Another very clever idea is to fill up water balloons and freeze them, then use in place of ice in an ice chest! Colorful and fun!
    Love your quilt idea! Thank you Jillee


    Love the fresh take! Love the tablecloth idea! I’m going to replace chair pillows this year and plan to cover them with pillowcases to keep them nicer longer. Easy to remove, wash and replace. I use 16 oz. mason jars for ice tea glasses. They don’t blow over in a breeze. I also freeze lemon slices in ice cubes made of lemonade. Pretty ice and doesn’t dilute tea or lemonade.

  6. Jennifer A. says

    My favorite summer time “hack” is using repurposed coffee cans as planters. It’s just a different type of recycling.

    • Vicky S says

      I like to use brightly colored sand pails with shovels for chips or side dishes. Easy to carry and pretty.