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.


Summertime Entertaining

AND to help get you started on your summertime entertaining this year… leave a comment below telling us your favorite summer #LifeHack for a chance to win a $100 JCPenney gift card!


Let’s get this summertime party started!


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    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Sheilasu says

    Why does the site not accept my comment? I clicked “Submit” twice, in error and I got a message that I already submitted the comment…but, it doesn’t appear. Oh well! 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.

  6. Brenda Calicott says

    My summer #LifeHack is taking fishing line and weights from my husbands tackle box, beads from my craft supplies and clips from the electrical dept. and making them in to weights to keep my tablecloth from blowing off my table. I also keep cans and cover them with twine to use for utensil holders or flower vases.

  7. Michelle S. says

    I absolutely LOVE the soap dispenser idea. Condiments are necessary, but their bottles are so unattractive, so this idea is perfect.

    Most of the other hacks I use have already been mentioned, but I do love making fresh lemonade ice cubes, which are perfect to chill both lemonade and iced tea without watering them down, and I freeze plenty of grapes to keep wine cold. Plus, they are delicious.

  8. KarenJ says

    For more than thirty years I’ve been using the Pommery mustard crocks for tableware and flowers. They have a wonderfully rustic look and are way too heavy to blow over. Pretty flowerpots hold napkins upright for a buffet table. A vine runs up my umbrella pole with white Christmas lights to illuminate for nighttime festivities (and our daily dinner. ) Hint: be sure to use a light colored umbrella or awning to increase the light factor.

  9. christy m says

    I love idea using the tissue cover for a napkin dispenser. They are always blowing away when the winds pick up. I also love the utensils caddy idea and using the bowl for condiments.

  10. MJ says

    Picnics are my favorite thing to have in the summertime. I have always used a fitted twin sheet to stretch over our picnic table for easy clean up and better wind resistance. Love your condiment dispensers!

  11. Rebecca B says

    I have been using a heavy blanket in my car for years! In the winter, the reason is obvious, but in the summer, it turns every not so perfect park table into a cozy retreat, great if you’ve packed a lunch, but also works if you’ve just picked up fast food. I also love the paper towel napkin dispenser. So cute and practical.

  12. Elizabeth says

    I use recycled tomato cans for plastic utensil holders. I use small, high-powered magnets under the table to keep them in place. To keep from losing the magnets in the grass (when little hands cannot resist testing the “magic” cans), paint the magnets with bright nail polish).

    • Sherry says

      Great idea! My (not original) use for these magnets is to hot glue canning jar lid inserts to the inside of a cabinet, then use magnets to keep ‘often-used’ recipes and favorite Jillee’s tips close at hand.

  13. Robiin M says

    I am a huge fan of the soap dispensers turned condiment dispensers! They are so much prettier than the plastic squeeze bottles. I also like the utensil caddy. So much nicer than the plastic square boxes I am used to seeing. Great job, Jill!

  14. Maureen says

    I have my own summer entertaining hack. We don’t have a large table on our deck, so when we entertain, my husband sets a large piece of plywood on top of two saw horses. I cover the plywood with a very large table cloth I bought on sale a few years ago and suddenly we have a nice large table for entertaining.

  15. Nancy says

    I liked your hack for your umbrella tablecloth.

    Also, I have another thought. Your condiment dispensers were made to dispense soap, lotion etc. Are you sure their interior components the condiments go through as they are being dispensed are food-grade and safe?

  16. Nancy says

    You are an inspiration to looking at everyday items and use them in a different way! I have the perfect ‘tablecloth’ packed away and barely used! Thank-you for the idea to dress up my humble screened-in-porch table!

  17. Lisa says

    Oh my! Love it all! But with several small grandchildren, my favorite has to be the napkin dispenser. My summer hack is to freeze pink lemonade with a cherry in each ice cube well. Once frozen, add the cubes to a glass of lemonade or tea. Doesn’t dilute your drink and the kids love to find a cherry in their glass!

  18. Brenda Rice says

    For a picnic or party, use a small inflatable swimming pool filled with ice to place your bowls of salads and chilled foods for a buffet. They will be festive for a summer bash and keep food safer to eat. Thank you, Jillie, for your blog~


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