Nine Summer Party Style Tips for Your Al Fresco Fête

We asked the Dîner en Blanc experts how they make their festivities look so darn fly.



We know it’s summer and everyone’s all about dark tans right now, but we’re seeing the light. By that we mean fair ladies (and lads) rockin’ cool shades of pearl and cream as a chic way to beat the heat, which makes it the perfect time of year for the ultra-elegant annual party-of-the-summer, Dîner en Blanc. If you’re in the dark, it’s a membership-based event that brings an ivory-clad ensemble of Honoluluans out to a gorgeous location (kept secret until that day!) for an evening of al fresco dining and networking. This year, there will be a table décor contest, in which partygoers will compete for the most beautiful spread.


We tapped the stylish mind of Dîner en Blanc host Aubrey Akana, of event planning and design company Savoir Faire Events, for tips on gussying up our own on-point outdoor summer party, from food and décor to D.I.Y. projects and atmosphere.


Pale imitation? Guilty.


Find out when the Dîner en Blanc is happening at



1. Make your food platters your décor and display your food fabulously. Create elevated platforms using extra-long wooden cutting boards, frames or mirrors, propped up with a few LED pillar candles. Incorporate cake stands (or create makeshift ones with white plates and white ramekins). You can even use grill mesh/metal racks covered with a piece of parchment paper, with food arranged on top.


2. Use hardy potted plants or herbs as your centerpieces. Wrap a white paper bag around the pot and use a rubber band to hold it together, fluffing the folds of the bag for drama. You can even add a few air plants, like Pele’s hair, dotted throughout the table to create your own textured, nature-inspired table runner.


3. Bring a D.I.Y. chalkboard to use in your selfies: Spray chalkboard paint onto a cereal box panel by cutting a large square with scalloped edges, and spray one side of the panel with paint. Don’t forget to spray the panel edges! Use masking tape to affix a piece of chalk to the back. At the event, you can write messages on the board for photo props.


4. Make a quick textured runner: Using butcher paper and gray/black calligraphy pens, write all the words to your favorite song, words in different languages or even just random letters in a variety of sizes. Tape both ends down on your linen so it doesn’t blow away. Your handwriting doesn’t have to be perfect!  It’ll all come together as a chic, visually textured, modern design. A good measurement to use is generally 12 inches wide by 34 inches long.


5. Add magical lighting to your table by using battery-operated twinkle lights. Place them in mason jars with silk, craft-store butterflies for a whimsical feel or place them loosely around your centerpieces for more drama. Multiple twinkle lights work well in larger apothecary jars.


6. Drop a little lavender or grapefruit oil on a candle and the indirect heat will diffuse a refreshing, welcoming scent.


7. Don’t forget white spray paint! Bring your old toys to life by spraying them with a few coats of white glossy paint. Ideas: plastic dinosaurs, superheroes, thrift store finds, candle holders, wide bowls, shells, a large globe, tiki mugs, books. You can even spray fruit: Pineapples or bananas are great choices. If you want to leave the top of the pineapples green, use painter’s tape and newspaper to loosely cover the pineapple tops while spraying. Take the spray idea a step further by stenciling a design (your initials, 2016 or a word like “ALOHA”) on your glass vases or wooden props.


8. Food can be your décor, too. Beautiful fruits and vegetables mixed with edible florals make a functional and gorgeous setting. Or, bring a decked-out two-tier cake (fondant frosting is best for outdoor weather, as it won’t melt) as your centerpiece. Don’t forget extra cake plates!


9. Create boho-chic gold-and-white vases using clean tomato sauce cans. First, run a line of hot glue around the top as protection from sharp edges. Spray paint the entire can white, then create a patina by spraying with a layer of gold spray paint, letting it dry, and scrubbing the surface. These will look beautiful arranged next to an LED candle to enhance the shine.