Outdoor Alfresco Entertaining
Summer is the ideal time for outdoor parties and gatherings. With a sophisticated outdoor space and a little planning, you can entertain your guests alfresco all summer long.
Set Up the Space
Always start with planning your entertaining space. You will need to decide if you want your guests sitting at one large table, or standing around a few small occasional tables in cocktail party fashion. Alternatively, you could create a casual picnic feel, by placing various size rugs under shady trees for relaxed dining. Remember to get comfortable patio cushions for your guests to relax on.
Set up a main buffet table with a sumptuous selection of entrees, side dishes and salads. Have plenty of ice-cold drinks on hand for guests to serve themselves at leisure. You could fill a wheelbarrow or wine oak barrel full of ice and drinks for a novel effect. Similarly, a large crystal bowl with sparkling punch and floating summer fruits is a timeless classic that always goes down well.
An outdoor table setting should be simple but still elegant. Dress up the table with colorful cloth napkins and napkin holders. Place your silverware in ‘self-serve’ containers and experiment with a mix of bright colored plates and dinnerware. Make your centerpiece bright and summery. A sturdy container displaying gerberas, impatiens, or bowls of fresh fruit, all make a bold statement. Alternatively, several small glass bowls filled with candles and flowers add an enchanting touch for evening soirees. The right patio umbrella will really set off your table.
The foods you choose for your alfresco feast need to suit the outdoors. Grilled meats, pasta dishes, chicken wings, and salads all work well, and are still delicious at room temperature. Remember to place your buffet tables in the shade to prevent the food from spoiling. Likewise, only bring out the fresh salads and creamier dishes, just before your guests are ready to eat.
No party is complete without lighting. Create a magical mood with strands of fairy lights draped through the trees, shrubs, and over your patio shading. Similarly, groups of candles in small glass jars or vases look romantic. Strategically place them in protected corners, windowsills or displayed on tabletops. Additionally, gas or oil-filled tiki torches add a dramatic effect. Set them up through your garden to create meandering walkways and separate little outdoor relaxing areas for your guests to enjoy.
Outdoor entertaining can be delightful and simple with just a bit of planning and a few personal touches. Make this summer one you can enjoy outdoors entertaining your friends.