When I heard that Texas tastemaker Camille Styles was heading to Houston to throw a summer-ready shindig with the help of Target, I was all in. The event-planner-turned-lifestyle-guru's site is all about #partygoals, so I knew it would be an amazing event. True to form, I sampled cones full of fresh fruit in patriotic colors and star-shaped bites of grilled cheese, geeked out over the twee ice-cream-shaped strung lights and watched the parade of kiddos get airbrushed tattoos of summer foods before sitting down with Styles to get her thoughts on how anyone can throw an easy, Instagram-ready party without breaking the bank.
Tell me about how this collaboration with Target came together?
It's been such a wonderful partnership. For one, I've been a Target shopper all my life. I love Target. For me its the perfect merging of style and accessibility, which is something that my brand is always trying to do, to make style something that everyone has access to. To me that's what Target really is all about.
The other thing is I have two kids, and especially as a mom I'm so busy. To be able to get a great outfit for Phoebe and myself, all of our party supplies, food and drinks for the party, stop and get a lipstick, just to get everything I need in one place is huge.
For me the partnership has been such a dream because it just feels so organic. I love to be able to incorporate all of the new collections into the parties we're designing—so far on the site we've done a spring Easter brunch using all Target's spring home collections, which was really beautiful and kind of girly, and then we just did our backyard barbecue that was really festive and fun and gave me so many great ideas for the Fourth of July barbecue I'm about to hold at my house.
What's the aisle at Target that you can't resist every time you pop in?
I have so much Threshold in my own home, so for me I can't walk down the aisle of the Threshold collection without finding something new that I didn't know I needed, whether it's serving pieces or throw pillows or outdoor rugs. This summer I'm really loving the Poptimism collection that Target just launched, too. It's full of outdoor entertaining must-haves and you'll see so many of them at this party, from all the cute, festive disposable festive plates and serve ware to the string lights that are all kinds of fun motifs. For the party today we've taken some of these iconic summer symbols of the Poptimism collection that Target's designers created and blown them up into these huge backdrops around the party.
What I love about your parties on the site is that they always seem really fun, not like you're working hard.
I refuse to be away from the party in the kitchen. I want to be having fun with my guests. So one thing that Target and myself are trying to do is really inspire people with how easy and affordable it can be to throw a great party. I think so many people are intimidated by the idea of hosting in their home because they think it's going to be tons of work or really expensive or both and it absolutely doesn't have to be.
At the backyard barbecue, we used all disposable dishes, which in the Poptimism collection adds such a fun element. I think people used to think they were sacrificing style if they went with disposables, but when you have this well-designed collection and these cute prints it actually becomes one of the cutest parts of the party. And then the best part is you can just throw it away at the end.
What are some of your go-to recipes to impress guests without feeling that stress and pressure of trying to cook while everyone else is relaxing?
With my background, a lot of what I learned was tips and tricks for planning a menu that can be prepared well in advance of guests arriving, so at the last minute you're not standing over the stove. In the summertime I love grilling everything. It's such an easy way to not even turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen, clean up is a breeze because you're just serving everyone off the grill, and it's fun and delicious.
For the barbecue we did chicken and veggie fajitas, which is definitely a summertime staple around our house. But we grill pizzas, we grill fish tacos. And then we just serve it at the table. For me that's one of the things that makes summer entertaining a snap. People shouldn't feel like it requires weeks and weeks of planning to have people over for a casual, spontaneous get-together, but you can still add in a few cute, well-designed pieces to make it feel like a party.
I am a huge fan in the summer, of either family-style service or putting the food right in the middle of the table on big, beautiful serving pieces—and then that becomes a décor element as well. Beautiful food is one of the best centerpieces, I think. Or setting up a great buffet, which is what I'm doing for the Fourth. Just being able to set up the food in a pretty way and let people serve themselves ... It makes things really casual and fun.
What's a party element that most people overlook?
I would say lighting. I think that lighting at an outdoor party in the summertime is the easiest, most inexpensive way to make it feel so magical. Whether it's stringing up some beautiful string lights or placing a couple great lanterns, votive candles. It doesn't take a lot of effort but it really transforms a backyard space.
And the big question: How do you plan a party where both the kids and the adults will be entertained?
I've learned so much since I had Phoebe a few years ago! I used to never give it a second thought but it really is true that when you have families over you want some kind of activity to keep the kids busy and having fun so the adults can actually have a conversation. I love lawn games in the summer ... over here we have this fun cornhole game, and Target has some really fun lawn games, like badminton. We also threw a bunch of hula hoops in the yard, which is very little effort but it kept the kids entertained for hours. Even throwing some beach balls out in the yard, getting a little creative.
How do you come up with a fun theme for your events?
I think it's just finding something simple. For the backyard barbecue we used the watermelon motif from the Poptimism plates as our launching pad so I think it's rally fun to get inspired by summer fruit. You can also choose something that's an activity at the party, like our snow cone stand. It's such a fun theme that you can repeat as a motif throughout. We just bought a snow cone machine from Target, the Cuisinart, it's bright red, you can make homemade syrups, everyone can choose their favorite flavors, the adults can spike them with alcohol. It's a really fun summer activity for kids and adults.