Summer entertaining isn't complete until you set the mood with lighting.
Invite friends over at twilight, brighten tables with a centerpiece of candles, and string several strands of garden lights through the trees. Line the backyard with citronella tiki torches, keeping the bugs away, and highlight a path or stairs with luminaries. Luminaries can be assembled by carefully placing candles in paper sacks filled with sand, or you can use old aluminum paint cans as an alternative. Use an ink pen to mark where holes should be on each can, and bore holes with an electric drill. Candlelight will twinkle through the holes in the cans, allowing light to bounce and flicker inside through the evening.
Lanterns are another great way to lend a romantic atmosphere to your backyard. Buy metal and glass lanterns from a home décor store, or make your own by placing small candles inside old mason jars or recycled tin cans. Drill two holes at the top of each can or jar to add a rustic wire handle, and hang the jars and cans through branches in the trees over the backyard. If paper lanterns are more your style, craft your own Chinese lanterns by using patterned tissue paper, construction paper and a pair of scissors. Cluster the paper lanterns over your outdoor dining table to make a unique chandelier.