Summer nights are upon us, which means it is time for outdoor entertaining. I don’t know about you, but I just love eating outside and soaking up the summer air with friends and family. Today I will share my favorite tips and tricks for al fresco dining and entertainment. I recently redid my outdoor furniture that you can read about here, so it’s time to entertain! Let’s look at my list of tips for dining al fresco. Also, be sure to read until the end where I have a list of everything I used to decorate my table in the photos above as well as the salad recipe!
Tips for Dining Al Fresco
1. Location & Lighting
It is so important to pay attention to the location and lighting of your outdoor dining space. If you are eating lunch in the middle of the day, definitely make sure you are in the shade. I love this outdoor umbrella for covering the table. If you are dining past sunset, be sure there is ample lighting. You can always add candles to make sure everyone can see each other as well as the food. Also be sure to note the weather. If it is potentially raining, be sure you have an undercover option. You can never be too prepared. You know Texas weather… just wait 5 minutes and it will change.
2. Stick with a Theme
It is much easier to decorate your table and outdoor space if there is a theme in mind. If you are doing more of a picnic theme, then definitely use gingham napkins and use wicker trays for serving. If you want more of a rustic theme, then use more muted colors and use cutting boards for serving. I went for a fresh summer look and stuck with yellow and blue shades for the theme in the photos above. I love how the yellow lemons play off of the blue. Just have fun with it!
2. Use Different Table Settings for Outside than Inside Dining
I prefer to use different items outside than I would inside. For one, I use plates and glasses that are not glass to avoid anything breaking. I love these glasses and these Juliska plates because they look like glass, but are not. You don’t lose the sophistication of your table setting, but the material is much more practical. I also use completely different decor outside than I would inside. You don’t want to compete with the beauty of the outdoors by going too over the top with your table settings.
3. Get Creative with the Centerpieces
Add some summer fun to the center of your table! Serving lemonade? Decorate with lemons. Have fresh herbs growing in your garden? Add those to the centerpiece! I also love to add fresh flowers. Learn some gardening tips so that you can make your centerpiece garden fresh. Candles are another great option for as long as it doesn’t become too cluttered. Feel free to get creative and really run with whatever theme you are using.
4. Try Colorful Napkins
Once you have a theme in mind for your al fresco dining, choose the napkin that goes best with that theme. When you dine indoors you have to be conscience about matching your home decor, but outside the sky’s the limit! I love these beautiful floral linen napkins or this set of mix and match napkins. I love these napkin holders that can be used as seen above, or as a bud vase for a single flower.
5. Have Comfortable Seating
This part is so important! Most outdoor furniture is really hard and cannot be sat in for very long. I use these outdoor seating cushions for a deeper chair and these cushions for a normal chair to ensure that my guests have the most comfort as possible. I also love to add these outdoor pillows for extra comfort. If it’s a nice night out, then you definitely want to be able to enjoy the night air for as long as possible!
6. Plan the Menu According to the Weather
It is so important to note the weather when deciding what to serve. If it is going to be a hot day, then plan a light and fresh menu. I love to serve fresh salads on this Vietri serving dish. The gold border highlights all of the beautiful colors in the salad. I love this watermelon salad with feta and cucumber recipe. It is easy, tasty and perfect for any outdoor summer gathering.
3 cups cubed watermelon
1 1/2 cups sliced cucumber
2 T mint leaves – thinly sliced
3 T olive oil
1 T lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup feta cheese
Combine the watermelon, cucumber and mint in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad and toss. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve!
7. Wear the Right Outfit
Whether hosting or attending an outdoor dining event, you can never be sure of how much time you’ll spend in the sun. I highly recommend Cabana Life clothing because the clothing material is all UPF 50+. Above I am wearing this navy and white terry tunic in a size S and Laura is wearing this navy wrap romper (also comes in this preppy palm color) in a size S. Both of these pieces can double as a cover-up if there’s swimming involved. Read more about the company and other cute looks they offer here.
You should also check out my tips for entertaining indoors with ease here. You can never be too prepared! How did we do? Do you have any outdoor entertaining tips to share?
xoxo – Tanya
Photo: Audrie Dollins
Glasses: Le Cadeaux Fleur
Circular Placemats: Crate and Barrel
Silverware: Crate and Barrel
Napkins: Not available, but you will love these napkins (plus more listed below)
Large Martini Glass Centerpiece: Not available, but you will love this large martini glass
Serving tray: Target
Seat cushions: Frontgate
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Tags: al fresco dining, outdoor furniture, recipe