One of life’s simple pleasures is outdoor dining at home or in one of your favorite restaurants. A lovely back yard patio or a welcoming deck can be the perfect setting to entertain family and friends during the relaxed days of summer. By following these design ideas and tips, outdoor entertaining can be easy, creative and fun!
When planning, use the opportunity to design a space around your lifestyle, rather than designing your lifestyle around the space. Your dining table should be as near as possible to the grill or outdoor kitchen allowing for easy access and serving.
Keep shade and shelter in mind when laying out your space. Umbrellas, awnings and gazebos can aid in keeping the sun at bay and make all the difference in comfort for you and your guests. If you live on a hilltop, the world below will look dazzling in the evening from an outdoor dining table. Other great views include a lovely garden or an illuminated water feature.
Thick, comfortable cushions on your chairs encourage guests to linger at the table and enjoy the evening. Outdoor lighting has become extremely popular in the last several years and adds so much to the ambiance of your space. Strands of small, clear lights looks beautiful when woven through trees, shrubs, and fences and are available in many shapes and sizes. Deck lighting strung overhead will make any space pop and provides great ambience. Candles can also be placed in groupings and citronella varieties will keep the mosquitoes from ruining your evening.
Let your personality shine through when setting the table. Feeling fancy or informal? Either will work depending on your mood. Outdoor tablecloths can be stylish and colorful and are also great for hiding an imperfect table. Centerpieces can be as simple as small glass canning jars filled with flowers from your garden.
Dress things up by using pottery dinnerware or explore some of the great Melmac patterns that have resurfaced in the past couple of years featuring bright and cheerful patterns. (Definitely not your Grandmother’s blue and white Melmac of yester year.) Utensils in plastic, stainless or silver along with your choice of glassware complete your tablescape.
Getting a head start on prepping the meal is one of the best tips to follow when planning a dinner party. Stock up on charcoal or make sure the propane tank is filled the week before your gathering. Clean and season the grill rack the morning of the party, and set grill utensils and serving platters on a nearby table. Plan your menu with side dishes that can be made a head of time, freeing you up so that you may enjoy your guests and the wonderful summer evening that you’ve planned.