Summer gatherings are some of the most anticipated events of the year. And what better way to impress your family and friends than to entertain a la alfresco. This year, go beyond the basic BBQ or standard picnic and create an elegant outdoor dinner party instead, with these gorgeous alfresco entertaining ideas.
1. Allocate a dedicated dining space
Eating alfresco is even more pleasant when you've taken care to make your space as comfy as possible. Choose an outdoor area overlooking the garden or pool, or if entertaining on a terrace or balcony, make it more intimate with a framework of lush green pot plants. Go with the biggest table you can fit in your space — lots of elbow room is best for leisurely meals. Add plump cushions to soften hard outdoor chairs, or to upgrade the elegance, bring your dining chairs outdoors for that extra dose of chic.
2. Set the mood with lighting
Twinkling lights are an easy way to instantly add a summery, romantic feel to outdoor entertaining. Choose from a variety of stringed fairy lights, colourful lanterns and whimsical garden lighting to illuminate the scene.
3. Create a stylish centrepiece
Just like when dining indoors, a centrepiece is the focal point of a dining table. For a lovely relaxed feel, go with a nature-inspired centrepiece and table settings that compliment your garden or outdoor decor. For a more glamorous approach, add touch of glimmer or gold. If your party has a special theme, then highlight this throughout your centrepiece and matching table settings.
4. Choose one flower for your decor
Using the same bloom, in the same shade throughout your decor, keeps your al fresco party looking elegant and effortless. Collect a few flowers from your garden, or pop by the supermarket, or florist for bunch of beautiful blooms. Display them in striking containers to compliment your table decor.
5. Add luxury touches to impress
The secret to flawless alfresco entertaining is to ensure your guests feel special and completely at home. Make them feel pampered with luxury elements such as linen tablecloths and napkins, sparkling glassware and polished silverware - rather than the plastic or paper variety. A gorgeous candelabra and tall candle holders also add a touch of glam to the occasion.
6. Scatter an abundance of comfy cushions
Adding pillows to an outdoor space instantly gives it a fresh, updated feel. Bring indoor comfort outdoors, with a scattering of your favourite cushions. Alternatively, revamp those tired outdoor cushions with new covers, or invest in a bunch of new ones to add some pops of colour to your soiree.
7. Keep mozzies at bay
The only downside to outdoor entertaining are those uninvited guests - mosquitoes. A week before your event, remove all stagnant water. Areas such as kiddie pools, gutters and rainwater collected in plant pots - are all hot spots where mosquitoes love to breed. On the night, set up a few citronella candles or torches, to keep the nasties at bay. Offer mosquito repellent wipes to guests, and your guests can stay comfortable and pest resistant into the wee hours.
8. Feed them fresh and fabulous
When it comes to choosing a summer dinner menu - keep it fresh! Nothing says alfresco dining more than fresh seafood, crunchy salads and big bowls of fruity punch. Begin with no-fuss appetizers that can be prepared in advance, so you’re free to mingle and chat with your guests. When it comes to choosing the mains, think of cuisine that compliments the warm weather and outdoor setting. Mediterranean, middle eastern and beachside fare, are all perfect alfresco feasts for a balmy summer’s night.