Julianna McIntosh’s entertaining philosophy goes beyond what she’s serving up. “Setting the table is so important for creating the right vibe, and it doesn’t have to be difficult,” says the founder of Join Jules, an online destination for visually driven drink recipes. For her, hosting a party is all about creating a cohesive experience. With cocktails as the starting point, she uses Anthropologie to then curate a specific look. The retailer is her go-to for elevated and practical items—think: sparkling glassware, beautifully woven linens, and eye-catching serving platters—that let you throw the most fun event ever.

Here, find McIntosh’s expert tips for setting the scene, plus three of her summer-bash starter packs that include everything from what to serve to the must-have Anthro items for bringing a vision to life.

How to Throw a Party

Step 1: Start With the Basics

When it comes to creating a cohesive vibe for a party, it’s all about location and theme. Will it be inside or out? In the afternoon or evening? A theme will influence the music, tabletop decor, drink pairings, and menu (and also help streamline your grocery shopping).

Step 2: Curate the Menu

For cocktails and bites, I try to only use what’s in season—when an ingredient is at its peak, the flavor is the best. Summer is abundant with fresh options; some of my favorites are mangos, watermelon, peaches, cherries, and, of course, berries. I love using tropical fruits in margaritas (who doesn’t enjoy a blended mango version?) and making tiki drinks with fresh pineapple. The cocktail I decide to serve tends to influence the glassware I serve it in (or vice versa). If there is a specific vessel I’m dying to use, I will create a drink based on the look it gives off and the amount of liquid it can hold. 

Step 3: Set the Table

Creating a visual experience is key. First, I set the table with a tablecloth or, if the base is a natural wood table, I’ll use a runner. Then I add candles, foliage or flowers, and fresh ingredients like cut lemons or limes to the center. From there, I work my way outward, styling plates, cutlery, and placemats. After that comes the final touches, like dinner napkins or a cute handwritten menu.

Steph 4: Prep Ahead of Time

Have everything ready before guests arrive—aka make sure to get out of the kitchen and enjoy your company. A pitcher for drinks, a one-pot dish, and even a charcuterie board can all be prepared early on.

Join Jules’s Summer Party Ideas

Seaside Sips

Cocktail of choice: Summer Martini Spritz
Light bites: Oysters, a light salad

Play off a menu of fresh crustaceans with whimsical, ocean-inspired stoneware and one-of-a-kind shell-shaped vases. This refreshing setup doesn’t just lend itself to a light and airy dining experience—it brings that seaside feeling to wherever you are.

The Happiest of Hours

Cocktail of choice: Jammy Gin Gimlet
Light bites: Charcuterie board

Use a tropical hardwood and cane board to display the ultimate spread of local cheeses, jams, and crackers. Pro tip: Add some of the jelly to your shaker (bonus points for a raffia-wrapped version) for a delightfully fresh cocktail creation that cuts down on waste. Don’t love gin? Charcuterie also pairs well with a crisp, cold glass of Chardonnay.

From Dusk to Dawn

Cocktail of choice: Pitcher Margarita
Light bites: Fish tacos, chips and guacamole

What better way to cool off from the summer sun than with an overflowing beverage dispenser of margaritas? Let guests grab a fun-colored goblet and snack on some chips and guacamole that will take the party from afternoon to evening. With a rose gold juicer on hand, it’s safe to say there’s no such thing as having too many limes.