susan's style tips

6 designer party tips for summer entertaining


Summer entertaining is as easy as taking as few hints from the master, Susan Taylor of Black-eyed Susan! Get the party ambiance every host craves with her expert tips.

1. Start with lighting

Let’s face it, any party speaks the language of style when it begins with lights! Any season of the year lends itself to outdoor patio lights, Christmas lights…lights! You name it, put lights as your number one item to begin with.

2. Add color

I little trick that I have used for many years is water colored with food coloring. I am beginning with this…ONE drop of blue food coloring in a pitcher of water…yes, just one. It creates the most magical color!



Here, I have taken a collection of assorted glass cylinders and stacked them inside each other. Small within larger, and occassionally a taller one within a shorter one — as seen on the right, second from the end. Choose your sizes carefully for a varied look. Then, fill each outer container with water in a range of heights. (You can see the slight tint to the water. Too much is garish. ONE drop!)

If your glass containers are not flat on the bottom, use Kosher salt to level the candle. It’s also quite pretty! I used our very popular Luminara candles in varying sizes to create my magic. Think buffet table, poolside, front porch, mantel. This is always a delightful way to add instant atmosphere. Try pink for a toddler girl’s birthday, blue for summer pool parties, and green or yellow for summer graduation parties!

3. Raid your garden

Vintage containers filled with garden cuttings are quick and easy party decorations too! Float an abundance of David Austen rose heads for a beautiful effect. Now, go raid your garden…or a neighbor’s!

4. Cascading centerpieces

I gathered this collection of themed glass and candleholders from my store inventory. Black-eyed Susan speaks the language of party style! Note the assorted sizes and they are all connected by the silver bands and chrome finishes. Fill these with candles and flowers…succulents, simple ferns or hostas. You will find three sizes of the chrome and glass candlesticks and three sizes of the glass vases. A series of assorted sizes spread down your island or dining table will create pure drama!

Here’s a closeup of the vases I used…they look gold, but it must have been the light of day! Pure silver. Just fabulous and I’m saying these won’t last long! Think spring, summer, or even the holidays….totally versatile!

5. Use vintage plates

Nothing says party and festive like pulling out your vintage china to celebrate! I love this lovely petal pink set I recently uncovered while unpacking my new house! I. Love. Pink. This set is bound to make anyone feel special. Party on.



This is another of my vintage sets that I love to pull out for dinner parties, birthday parties and cake tastings! Chartreuse laurel wreaths say it all….pure style! Try serving dessert in a tea cup! Chocolate mousse, ice cream….it tastes divine in these beauties!

6. Save cake for breakfast

One last hint…when the party’s over and the cleanup complete, I look forward to this little bit of heaven. Yes, eat cake for breakfast! (I always try to stash a piece away in hiding to reward myself the next morning). I recommend it! It’s all about me and the motto on my Kate Spade mug the next morning!