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Summer parties and dinners: How to wow guests this summer per expert

Make your summer event perfect using ideas for an expert with the latest book by Southern lifestyle and food expert James T. Farmer III.
Courtesy of Gibbs-Smith and James T. Farmer III, Emily Followill and Maggie Yelton.

The Houzz website prides itself on bringing homeowners and home professionals together in a collaborative setting, and one of the popular ways in which it does this is by showcasing certain products and people. On June 25 the home site published a piece by Laura Gaskill, which gives readers "20 Ideas for Easygoing Summer Parties" they can follow.

Gaskill is spot on with her recommendations, which include whipping up an extra table using sawhorses and turning a wooden crate into a drinks container, or using whatever you have as one, like a wheelbarrow, and using soda bottles as vases. But if you have read any books written by James T. Farmer III, you've likely already learned all those tricks of the trade and more.

In his most recent publication, Dinner on the Grounds: Southern Suppers and Soirees, readers are given great decorating, entertaining and menu ideas to try from the Southern lifestyle expert for upcoming dinners on the dock, dinners in the garden, fireside dinners, opening night dinners, summer picnics, rehearsal dinners and even family reunion dinners.

And if you are wondering how this Southern male came to become known as the "go to" expert in the South for decor, entertaining and food, then page 45 of his latest book partially explains it, as he credits his grandmother for her influence.

Mimi always said, 'We eat with our eyes first,'" James writes, "Thus, feasting visually in the garden is a fantastic appetizer to any meal."

So if you are looking for ways to be able to feast with your eyes and your mouth from one reputable source, this is a resource book you will want to make your own. It will provide you with unlimited ideas about how to "feed all of our senses during dinner in the garden," or on the dock, or near a fire; I promise.

And you will also come away with a whole lot of easygoing summer party ideas too, especially when it comes to delicious food menus and recipes to try from the kitchen of great Southern chefs, like James T. Farmer III and his Mimi. And James has even written a book on how to make the perfect wreath for any occasion for your dock, door or garden.

If you pick up his latest book or any of his others, you don't have to worry about whether you will be able to tell if your attempt at recreating his recipes or decorations have succeeded or not, as the Gibbs-Smith publications boast beautiful photos of what the finished products should look like, food or decor, so you can have a visual confirmation after you are done. And maybe that's why Dinner on the Grounds made the Top 25 Best Sellers list of Gibbs-Smith: because, like always, his books deliver!