Southern Soiree with Draper James + 5 Summer Entertaining Tips

At the beginning of June I got together with my southern girl friends Jessica of Frapps & Frills and Lauren of Going for Grace to host a fun southern soiree! As soon as we started planning we knew there would be no better place to host this party than at McAlister-Leftwich, a local historic venue filled with southern charm. The front lawn was the perfect location to host this event & the gorgeous home was a quintessential southern backdrop! We had so much fun planning the design and style of the party, working with local vendors & enjoying each other’s company! We all donned Draper James dresses and embraced the warm southern summer while enjoying desserts, porch sits & lots of laughs! You can read more about it on Draper James’ blog Love, Reese. Continue reading below to see more photos from the events and a few summer entertaining tips. At the very bottom Lauren is sharing her Lemon Tart recipe and it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss.

Stripe Midi Dress (Lauren) | Floral Maxi Shirtdress (me) | Embroidered Gingham Dress (Jessica)

Five summer entertaining tips

Summer is officially here which means there are plenty of opportunities to entertain! Whether you’re having guests over for the Fourth of July, throwing a barbecue for friends or if you have a fun brunch planned with girlfriends, be sure to read these summer entertaining tips to ensure a successful event! Sure paper plates and plastic cups work for some gatherings (although we should all do away with single use items!) we think going the extra mile and gathering items that help add to the atmosphere makes for an even better party! Have any other entertaining tips? Be sure to leave them in the comments so we can all see them!

1. Be flexible when it comes to weather

If you’re from the south then you know weather can be pretty unpredictable in the summer. Between the humidity and those pesky afternoon storms, make sure you have a plan B if you are planning a party outdoors. Your best bet when planning an event is to have an indoor-outdoor option (like with McAlister-Leftwich) so that your guests can mingle outdoors if the weather is nice or pop back indoors for a reprieve from the heat.

2. Keep the menu as seasonal as possible & use fresh ingredients

There’s nothing better than fresh, seasonal ingredients to make a delightful appetizer, dish, or dessert. Head to your local farmer’s market to see what items are in season and plan your menu from there. There are always so many fresh produce options to choose from in the summer. Since it will likely be a mix of hot & humid try to plan out refreshing dishes, like salads, chilled pasta salads, light desserts, and even a delicious cocktail made with fresh fruit!

3. Wear something you will be comfortable in

Since you are hosting the party, you will likely be serving, cleaning, prepping & doing endless entertaining throughout the evening. Be sure to wear something that you truly feel comfortable and confident in. You have enough on your plate (pun intended!) you don’t want to worry about being uncomfortable or insecure in what you’re wearing. I loved wearing this floral maxi shirtdress for our event. It was breathable, it was functional and comfortable, and it even had pockets in case I needed to quickly grab something from the kitchen on my way out to the table.

4. Incorporate season flowers on your table

In my mind there is nothing better than a gorgeous floral centerpiece anchoring your table together. If you’re working on a budget head to the farmer’s market – the local market typically has gorgeous arrangements filled with seasonal flowers. Some vendors even will make a customized version and put it in a vase for you. I am always amazed by how gorgeous the flowers are at the farmer’s market. If you’re looking to work with a local florist – be sure to specify the type of flowers you want, whether it’s a specific kind or color. This will help guide them and allow you to continue planning your tablescape.

5. Have fun with it!

Perhaps the most important entertaining tip of all – have fun with it! One of my favorite parts about entertaining is that you have the freedom to do exactly what you please. If you want a soft color palette in an intimate setting, go for it! If you want to be bold and bright for brunch with your gal pals – do it! Have you been wanting to try your hand at doing your own florals for a party – give it a shot! As long as you have the essentials down, feel free to play around with the table, the menu & the location. Even if things don’t turn out perfectly, your guests aren’t going to know (or care!) so have fun with it and don’t let the stress of planning an event get to you! 

Sweet Lemon Tart recipe

2 sheets pre-made pie dough
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3-4 lemons)
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup blueberries for garnish
*makes 12-14*

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-On a lightly floured surface, spread out pie dough & begin cutting 3in. rounds.
-Gently press each round into the tartlet pan.
-In bowl, combine eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice & heavy whipping cream.Whisk until fully incorporated.
-Add mixture to each prepared tartlet, filling the bottom of each cup.
-Bake 12-15 minutes, or until the filling is set (doesn’t jiggle).
-Let cool. Add blueberry and greenery to garnish.
-Can be served immediately, chilled, or placed at a pretty place setting!


happy entertaining! xx

Photographer – Megan Travis Photography  | Location – Mcalister-Leftwich House, Greensboro, NC | Flowers – Flora | Table, chairs, tabletop – The Prettiest Pieces | Wooden chairs – Party Makers Event Rental | Cake – Artsy Cakesy

Shop the post

Leave a Reply


  1. All of these photos are just beautiful!! Love all of the pretty dresses too!

    Posted 6.26.19 Reply
  2. Whitney | Whit Wanders wrote:

    wow love Draper James! they have so many cute options! This setting looks like a dream!



    Posted 6.26.19 Reply
  3. Annie wrote:

    This looks incredible! What a fun set up!

    Posted 6.26.19 Reply
  4. These pictures are perfection and your table is gorgeous! Serious summer backyard goals!

    xoxo Sarah

    Posted 6.26.19 Reply
  5. Jessica wrote:

    Loved getting together with you girly! Cheers to next time! 🙂

    Posted 6.26.19 Reply
  6. Y’all nailed this set up!! Also, that’s my wedding venue and you’re making me all kinds of excited for our wedding there!

    How 2 Wear It []

    Posted 6.26.19 Reply
  7. Lydia wrote:

    What a stunning tablescape! I just love the low floral arrangements and the blue and white dishes. Though I would hate to worry about having to get those gorgeous wood and velvet chairs back inside if it suddenly started raining!

    Posted 6.27.19 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you so much! Luckily we had a plan B & there wasn’t a cloud in the sky 😉

      Posted 6.27.19 Reply
  8. Stephanie wrote:

    Talk about the dreamiest photos of all time. This event looks spectacular. I don’t get to host things very often, but you’re making me want to begin!

    Posted 6.27.19 Reply
  9. Anna English wrote:

    What a fun way to celebrate summer! Y’all look so cute in Draper James.

    Posted 6.27.19 Reply
  10. Megan wrote:

    Wow, this looks amazing! You guys look great and you definitely stepped your game up. This is super fancy compared to my get togethers!

    Posted 6.27.19 Reply
  11. All of these photos are just beautiful! Love the florals

    Posted 6.28.19 Reply
  12. Lindsay wrote:

    This looks incredible! And I am obsessed with your dress!

    Posted 7.2.19 Reply

follow along @emilynwilkinson