Growing up, it seemed as if my parents were always entertaining. A couple of times a month, they and their friends would gather around the table outside in our backyard for quality food and quality conversation. My sisters and I would always help with the prep, but then we never got to join in the fun. Those adults and their rules! Now that I'm older, I've tried to follow in my mom's footsteps when it comes to the Alfresco dining situation. Here are a few of my fave simple tips on how to pull off your own Alfresco dinner party!
Keep your guests warm by offering an assortment of blankets. You can line each chair or bench with one, or have baskets of blankets on each end of the table. This will prevent the good conversation from ending early because your pals are getting chilly!
Add in some color! Stick with a fun and unique color scheme to bring something new to the table. (pun intended.) We actually have a table outside that we paint regularly. The purple you see above? It was orange last month. And it's lavender this month. And it will probably be aqua next month! Our dinner guests love being surprised by the new table color each time they come over! If you don't have the time (or desire!) to paint a new table each time, change things up with a unique tablecloth or favorite blanket!
Start with appetizers! Keep a giant charcuterie available for guests to pick from as they please. Don't worry about serving fancy and expensive meats! Fruit, cheese, and bread can be the triangle of success!
Serve a signature cocktail! Throw an assortment of beverages in buckets of ice, and also have a signature cocktail to serve your guests! It could match your desired color scheme or include an herb you'll be serving a lot of that night!
Light things up! Nothing sets ambiance like candlelight. Light an assortment of votives and place them all over the table to keep things bright throughout the evening. If you're worried about lights over head. String a few light strands through the trees or hang up some LED paper lanterns around the yard!
There is beauty in simplicity. While I love gorgeous, long tables filled to the brim with flowers, candles, and other adornments, I believe in letting good food speak for itself. That doesn't mean you can't have a pretty table! Skip the arrangements and opt for a small bloom or twig to place on each plate. Forage through your own yard and cut snippets from a bush to add a little greenery.
Enjoy yourself! No matter how simple or extravagant you style things up, the important thing is to have a good time. Cherish the memories you are making with your friends and family at these dinners!