10 Tips to Easy Outdoor Dining
Summer is here!
Whether you’re hosting an intimate patio party or a birthday celebration for the whole family, these helpful tips will have you kicking back and enjoying outside dining with family and friends all summer long.
Invest in furniture
The foundation of any outdoor dining space is the furniture. Outdoor furniture should be practical and long lasting to withstand everyday dining and entertaining needs.
If you love to entertain, investing in a large table with benches and chairs is necessary to seat plenty of party people. If you prefer intimate affairs, then look for a bistro set with sturdy, comfortable chairs or opt for lounge chairs—like Adirondack chairs.
Choose furniture that is well constructed, durable, and fits the weather in your area. Popular material choices for outdoor furniture are wood, synthetic resin, plastic, and metals like aluminum, steel, and wrought iron.
Thick, comfortable cushions will encourage your guests to linger at the table. They also add colour and design to the space. Choose cushions that are constructed from weather-proof material so they last longer than one season of sun, wind, and, yes, rain.
Tablecloths come in a wide variety of patterns, colours, and materials that suit every budget. They style up your table while providing a layer of protection to your table. Cloth napkins are a great way to add pops of colour at your table and avoid paper waste.
An umbrella provides much needed shade, but it also helps to define your outdoor space. Ensure that you have a large enough umbrella to cover your main dining area.
If you have an uncovered yard that gets full sun, set up multiple umbrellas (or shade sails) with food and drink tables beneath. You can also set up shaded retreats with a few seats to encourage mingling. Setting up separate spaces will also encourage your guests to roam. If they have to cross the deck to grab a drink or a snack, they’re more likely to strike up a conversation along the way.
Need extra seats? Take your kitchen chairs outside! You can also borrow an entry hall bench and camping chairs if needed.
Even during the summer, it can get a little chilly after the sun goes down. A fire pit or chiminea will keep everyone toasty long into the night—and it’s essential to serving s’mores for dessert!
For added coziness have plenty of blankets on hand to keep everyone wrapped up and extra warm.
Pots and planters of your favourite foliage are an excellent way to bring more greenery to any outdoor dining space. They help create fluidity between the wood or stonework and the grass in a garden, and also help create a more intimate, secluded section for entertaining.
Stick with a simple menu that won’t leave you stranded in the kitchen. Grilling is a great way to mingle with your guests while you cook the main dish. Better yet, spread the work load and host a potluck. Themed parties are never boring, so get creative!
Simplicity also goes a long way when it comes to centerpieces and floral arrangements. Floating peonies and gardenias make a statement without much fuss. Fill a large glass serving bowl with water, trim off the stems of each flower, and place in the water.
Don’t get fussy about your dishes. Setting the table with an eclectic mix of tableware gives off a relaxed vibe, so go ahead and pair those crisp white plates with those with patterns.
If you don’t have a table covering that is large enough to cover your table, pick two to three of your favourite tablecloths and layer them across your table. Keep in mind that floral patterns mix well with stripes and polka dots!
Light it up
The best parties often carry on after the sun sets, so invest in portable lighting to brighten things up. Strings of lights, inexpensive tea lights in glass jars, and a variety of lanterns will all help set a glowing ambiance. Use the branches of nearby trees to hang outdoor wireless lights or battery-operated paper lanterns.
If you’re planning to have a lot of young children and/or pets running around the backyard, battery-operated candles are a great option to traditional candles. They give off the same warm glow without fear of wind, fire, or spilled wax.
Just because you’re hosting, doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Encourage self-serve with a buffet style menu and a drink bar stocked with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cocktail mixes, ice, and glassware. Also make sure you have a solid supply of water on hand.
If you need a great selection of beer, spirits, and wine, click here to see all the fabulous Comox Valley producers. All of their products are available on-site, as many are available in local liquor stores.
During the summer, no one is ever realty in any rush and wants to stay late on the weekends. Pull out the beach chairs, the beach blankets, and all the throw pillows, so everyone can lie back and enjoy the evening.
If you prefer a more casual approach to dinner—and don’t have an outdoor table that will fit all your guests—go low. Spread out a few blankets, place coffee tables (or pallets) in the middle, and use a selection of cushions for seating.