July 1, 2018
A rolling island and a few occasional chairs brighten up weekends away at the cottage.

Summer is in full swing now. We all have our favourite ways to while away holiday weekends. I find that in order to take full advantage of free time, or time away from work, or whatever I consider a break in routine, is to do some clever planning ahead. If the holidays equate to hosting family and guests for a few days, thinking ahead really pays off. Here are some pointers that will make summertime entertaining easy and fun.

If the holidays celebrate a specific event, then you have a built-in focus for your plans. A birthday, anniversary or graduation are personal fetes that honour individuals; civic holidays are set up to commemorate important historical events. Do some background research to discover what type of food and entertainment fits the party. Shop for lawn games – bocce ball, ladder toss and lawn bowling are popular choices for all ages. Relax or play in the water with water floats; not just noodles but inflatable shapes including watermelons and flamingos. Set up a hammock and comfy chaise in the shade for those who wish to escape the direct sun.

Fresh air and play always build hearty appetites. Stock up on plenty of unbreakable dishes and glassware. Melamine and acrylic tableware come in sunny colours and patterns that offer instant decoration for your outdoor table/s. Check your serving dishes too. Have large salad bowls and platters on hand so that guests can help themselves. Clean up is easy when tableware is durable and lightweight.

A rolling kitchen island, such as the one shown here from HomeSense, is equipped with wheels so it can be easily rolled outdoors onto the patio or deck. With a butcher block top, you have mobile kitchen prep for last minute chopping and service straight from the cart. Line up condiments and extra dishes on the lower shelf. When it’s time to clear the table, dishes can be loaded onto the island and rolled back inside.

Keep footsteps to a minimum by arranging outdoor storage. Utilize flea market finds including armoires, dressers, trunks and recycled wood planks to create outdoor spaces for everything from extra seat cushions and tableware to games and water toys. Apply exterior paint or stain to give storage pieces a finish that can withstand sun and rain.

Inside and out, a few extra chairs will keep everyone comfortable. Look for stackables that can be tucked away when not in use. Or choose a few seats that add a blast of colour and some modern character to your home away from home. The lightweight moulded red chair shown here is a welcome extra in the kitchen, dining room and patio.

A few well-placed lanterns and lights have a magical effect in the evening. Wind battery operated fairy lights around branches and plants. These tiny strings make a pretty centerpiece grouped together in a bowl or vase on the table and makeshift buffet. (Think wood planks set up on crates for extra surface space.)

The time is right for summer sales. Visit your favourite shops and peruse the internet for irresistible bargains. Stock your cupboard with essentials. Extra towels, bed linens and blankets are always in demand. With all these items accounted for and packed up, your holidays are worry-free.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to Follow Debbie at,,