8 Picnic Party Decorating Themes and Ideas

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As someone who lives in New York City, I know firsthand how precious private outdoor space is, especially now that outdoor dining is the most popular social activity. And since I still don’t have a balcony, patio, or terrace to call my own—but still want to enjoy spending time outside with friends despite indoor dining reopening—I’ve gotten very good at making myself at home in the city’s parks for picnic dinners and tea parties. Yes, this requires me to be a little scrappier when it comes to setting the mood since transportation enters the equation, but that’s part of the fun. So I came up with eight outdoor portable schemes to ensure that every outdoor picnic you “host” this summer feels private, public park notwithstanding.

Whether you’re still more comfortable socializing outdoors, you simply prefer to take advantage of the weather, or you want to throw an outdoor get-together or picnic for your friends for the fun of it, the stylings ideas and templates below inspired by designer tablescapes will prove that you can dress up any old park bench and picnic table with the right items and decor scheme. Ready, set, choose your own decorative dining adventure, and then pack your picnic basket accordingly.

Tooty Fruity Refresh

Design by Charlotte Moss

Charlotte Moss

Cheer up with lemon-themed everything. Above, a brunch party hosted by interior designer Charlotte Moss is animated with woven rattan place settings and garden pots of dainty, unpretentious yellow flowers on a lemon-printed tablecloth. The mix reads classic and upbeat, while the splatter-painted green plates add a modern art feel.

Set the Citrus Table:

Plastic Cherries Serving Bowl

Sun Squad
target.com

$10.00

Citrus Embroidered Napkins

Citrus Embroidered Napkins

Williams Sonoma
williams-sonoma.com

$23.99

Handcrafted Wood Utensil Caddy

Handcrafted Wood Utensil Caddy

JK Adams
food52.com

$110.00

Mango Candlestick Holder

Mango Candlestick Holder

Mercedes Salazar
modaoperandi.com

$185.00

Hopelessly Romantic

blue outdoor floral dinner party

Styled by Loveshack Fancy

Loveshack Fancy

Think sweet and innocent florals, like a Picnic at Hanging Rock vibe without the sinister undertones. You could even add some butterflies to the mix (as long as they’re pastel, of course). Lace touches will elevate it even further.

Set the Romantic Table:

Silicone Wine Glasses

Silicone Wine Glasses

Shark Skinzz
totalwine.com

$14.99

Tablecloth Weights

Tablecloth Weights

4GreenDoors
etsy.com

$35.76

Heart Picnic Basket

Heart Picnic Basket

Katie Kuo Home
kathykuohome.com

$160.00

La Vie En Rose Tablecloth

La Vie En Rose Tablecloth

Loveshack Fancy
loveshackfancy.com

$195.00

Blue Bayou Enchantment

rustic french dining scheme

Deigned by Wendy Owens

MARION BRENNER

Throwing an outdoor dinner or picnic at twilight? A midsummer night get-together hits differently and calls for some moody atmosphere, like the rustic chateau-meets-mysterious-bayou ambiance on display here. All that’s missing is the Spanish moss.

Set the Twilight Table:

Solar Candle Lantern

Seagrass Cage Pitcher

Seagrass Cage Pitcher

Kiss the Frogs
juniperhouse.com

$31.70

Fold Up Bench/ Cot

Fold Up Bench/ Cot

Best Made
duluthtrading.com

$280.00

Rattan Round Tray

Rattan Round Tray

Texxture
food52.com

$75.00

Laid-back Southwestern

southwestern outdoor dining style

Design by Kathryn Ireland

House Beautiful

Whether you’re eating tostadas and chiles rellenos or just a well-composed cheese plate, the sunset colors of a Southwestern theme is perfect for a summer hang. Layer on some sarape-style blankets and incorporate richly hued florals as well as mini succulents and found objects to anchor a more whimsical desert-chic tableware set and tablecloth.

Set the Southwestern Table:

 Hot Sauce & Spicy Honey

Hot Sauce & Spicy Honey

Red Clay
food52.com

$46.00

 Faux Antler Candle Holder

Faux Antler Candle Holder

Melrose
target.com

$43.74

Succulent Assortment

Succulent Assortment

The Sill
thesill.com

$30.00

Frazada CLI  Blanket

Frazada CLI Blanket

Vintage
stfrank.com

$540.00

Tropical Punch Kitsch

tropical tablescape outdoor dining

Design by Ann Koerner

House Beautiful

Set your clocks to island time with vibrant colors, plenty of tropical plant motifs, and an overall low-key but energizing look. You can go full-on kitsch with wild prints, or simply introduce touches of the tropics with more subtle sea-inspired decor. But whichever you choose, just make sure the tiki drinks are flowing.

Set the Tropical Table:

Orchid Jungle Picnic Blanket

Orchid Jungle Picnic Blanket

Society 6
society6.com

$71.99

Tropical Drink Umbrella Picks

Tropical Drink Umbrella Picks

Faux Palm Plant Leaf

Faux Palm Plant Leaf

West Elm
westelm.com

$25.00

Animal Acrylic Glasses

Animal Acrylic Glasses

Mark & Graham
markandgraham.com

$49.00

Rustic Farm Fresh

garden outdoor dining table

Design by Lisa Bynon

House Beautiful

The earthy textures of ceramic tableware and warm wood serving pieces blend in beautifully with a garden setting, and using bunches of (edible) wildflowers and potted plants down the center of the table will impress everyone you invite. Want to really up the aesthetic ante? Bring along mason jars and aged vases and pitchers you don’t feel too precious about to contribute to the historical feel.

Set the Farm Table:

Fold-Up Picnic Table

Fold-Up Picnic Table

Mikel Customs
food52.com

$180.00

Picnic Cooler

Picnic Cooler

Weston Table
westontable.com

$575.00

Weck Jars With Lids

Teak Tree Root Bowl

Teak Tree Root Bowl

Vintage
stfrank.com

$40.00

Neon Garden Party Pop

neon garden party idea

Styled by Alicia Lund

Cheetah Is the New Black

If you’re drawn to bright and bubbly things but also love soft pastels and dainty florals in equal parts, recreate this bold garden-party remix table setting from Alicia Lund of Cheetah Is the New Black. And do throw some shade with a kitschy tasseled umbrella.

Set the Garden Party Table:

Flower Pressed Cookies

Flower Pressed Cookies

Loria Stern
loriastern.com

$48.00

St. Tropez Umbrella

St. Tropez Umbrella

Pottery Barn
potterybarn.com

$199.00

Twisted Taper Candles

Seashell Coasters

Seashell Coasters

Mercedes Salazar
modaoperandi.com

$55.00

New England Classic

outdoor dining scheme

Design by Libby Cameron

House Beautiful

Whether you’re a Connecticut- or Maine-style lobster roll loyalist, a classic New England atmosphere will set the right backdrop for a clambake-inspired picnic. We’re talking oyster and shellfish motifs, patriotic color schemes, old-school gingham prints. Maybe just skip the chowdah.

Set the New England Table:

Blue & White Stripe Picnic Basket

Blue & White Stripe Picnic Basket

Picnic Time
food52.com

$54.95

Everday Classic Melamine Dinnerware

Everday Classic Melamine Dinnerware

Tarhong
food52.com

$41.01

Maine Lobster Kit

Maine Lobster Kit

Weston Table
westontable.com

$617.00

Blue and White Stripe Tablecloth

Blue and White Stripe Tablecloth

Cackleberry Home
amazon.com

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Senior Editor
Hadley Mendelsohn is House Beautiful’s senior editor, and when she’s not busy obsessing over all things decor-related, you can find her scouring vintage stores, reading, or stumbling about because she probably lost her glasses again.

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